The Green Bay Packers are making another change in their kicking room as they continue to look for talent to push veteran Mason Crosby in training camp.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for Monday, June 13, the Packers have claimed rookie Gabe Brkic off the waiver wire from the Minnesota Vikings and waived one of their backup kickers, Dominik Eberle, from the 90-man roster to make room.
Brkic had originally signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie following his four-year collegiate career at Oklahoma. During his final season with the Sooners, he made 20 of his 26 field-goal attempts (79.6%) and was one of the nation’s most prolific long-distance kickers, making five of his seven tries from beyond 50 yards with two of his successes coming from at least 56 yards away. He was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award and also received All-Big 12 second-team honors.
Meanwhile, Eberle had been added to the Packers’ specialist room back on February 22 as a third kicker to compete alongside Crosby and fellow back JJ Molson, who spent the majority of the 2021 season as a member of the team’s practice squad. After Molson was released in late May, the kicking competition was set to be centered around Eberle and Crosby, but now the rookie will have the opportunity to challenge Crosby.
The Packers’ roster moves were corresponding and will keep the roster at full capacity. The transaction wire also showed that wide receiver Allen Lazard officially signed his second-round restricted free agent tender with the team on Monday.
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Is Crosby at Risk of Losing His Roster Spot?
Nobody is expecting the rookie Brkic to come in and immediately threaten to replace Crosby as the Packers’ starter, but it is important to understand there are some other factors at play that could compel Green Bay to head into 2022 with a new placekicker.
Crosby has been the most reliable piece of the Packers’ special teams over his 15 seasons with the team, hitting 81.1% of his field goals and 97.5% of his extra points and never missing a single start with the team. Still, he will be turning 38 before the start of the regular season and is coming off an up-and-down year that saw him finish with his second-worst field-goal make percentage (73.5%) of his career, missing nine of 34 tries.
There is also the financial component of Crosby’s current contract. The Packers restructured his deal last offseason to lower his 2021 cap hit, but it also raised his cap charge to $4.735 million for the 2022 season with the potential for $3.4 million in savings if he is released before or during training camp. The Packers would still have to carry $1.335 million in dead cap for the season and another $335,000 for each of the next three seasons — due to void years added in his 2021 restructure — but it could be worth it if Crosby is outshined in camp or another need arises that requires cap space.
The Packers, however, still seem most likely to keep Crosby for at least the final year of his contract given his strong record of availability throughout his cold-weather career. The dead-cap hits in future seasons are going to come due regardless of whether he stays, so keeping him might make the most financial and competitive sense unless there is an overwhelming need to address elsewhere that costs more money.