Packers Sign Historic Specialist To One-Year Deal: Report

Getty The Green Bay Packers are bringing in some competition for veteran punter Pat O'Donnell.

The Green Bay Packers still have some question marks on their special teams units, and while there’s still plenty of uncertainty at kicker, general manager Brian Gutekunst brought in some competition for punter Pat O’Donnell.

With legendary kicker Mason Crosby seemingly not returning to Green Bay, the Packers took Anders Carlson in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. However, there’s no guarantee that Carlson becomes the team’s go-to kicker if he’s not able to perform in training camp or the preseason.

Meanwhile, the Packers have brought in some competition for O’Donnell at the punter position. Bill Huber with was the first to report that the Packers were bringing in All-XFL punter Dan Whelan to compete for the starting job.

An undrafted free agent out of UC-Davis in 2022, Whelan had a brief stint with the New Orleans Saints before making his way into the XFL. Growing up playing soccer and rugby in Ireland, Whelan has an opportunity to be the first Irish-born NFL player to see the field since 1985.

While it’ll be difficult to beat out an established veteran like O’Donnell, Whelan will have an opportunity to prove he belongs on an NFL roster.

Green Bay’s Punter Woes

While O’Donnell provided a more stable presence at punter in 2022, the Packers have had a revolving door of players at the position over the years.

The Packers have had six different punters over the last eight seasons, starting with the final year of a struggling Tim Masthay back in 2015. After two years of stop-gap options in Jake Schum and Justin Vogel, the Packers took JK Scott in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft in hopes of finding a long-term answer at the position.

Unfortunately, Scott only made it three seasons as the team’s punter before parting ways with the former Alabama specialist. The Packers turned to Corey Bojorquez in 2021, and after a very strong start to the season the veteran came back down to earth and ended his time in Green Bay with a game-sealing blocked punt in the divisional round of the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers.

O’Donnell is expected to hold down the starting job for the second straight year in 2023, but at 32 years old, the Packers could decide to go for a fresher leg in Whelan if things go a certain way in training camp.

Latest Packers Signings

Whelan isn’t the only move that the Packers have made since the 2023 NFL Draft, as Gutekunst continues to tweak the roster months ahead of training camp.

The Packers added even more competition to a crowded safety position, signing former Houston Texans starter Jonathan Owens to a one-year deal. As the husband of superstar gymnast Simone Biles, Owens is bringing another celebrity into the team’s fandom.

After surprisingly not going after a single offensive line prospect in this year’s draft, the Packers have instead looked for undrafted rookies to fill out their training camp roster. They were able to acquire an intriguing UDFA off the waiver wire, taking former Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman D.J. Scaife Jr., who had been waived by the Miami Dolphins.

With training camp still months away, expect Gutekunst to continue to make similar moves throughout the offseason.

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