Packers Cut Specialist in Favor of Fresh Face Connected to New Coach

Matt LaFleur

Getty Matt LaFleur coaches against the Lions.

The Green Bay Packers had three men at a position on their roster one just two would do, and the odd man out was told the unfortunate news Friday.

The franchise will head into OTA offseason workouts on Monday and mandatory minicamp on June 7 with only two kickers on the roster after cutting ties with J.J. Molson. The move was made despite Green Bay picking up the 25-year-old Molson at the end of 2020 and keeping him tethered to the franchise via its practice squad for the entirety of the 2021 regular season.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported the news on Twitter May 20.

“The Packers were never going to training camp with three kickers,” Demovsky wrote. “Now it’s Mason Crosby and Dominik Eberle.”

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Hiring of Rich Bisaccia Likely Led to Release of Molson

Ryan Winslow, Green Bay packers

GettyRyan Winslow (left), Joe Fortunato (center) and JJ Molson (right) of the Green Bay Packers ride bikes to training camp at Ray Nitschke Field on July 28, 2021 in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The considerations Green Bay made over the course of the last year (and then some) to hold onto Molson suggest that the team believed in his abilities and may have even thought tentatively of the former UCLA prospect succeeding the 37-year-old Crosby at some point.

However, Packers writer Jason Hirschhorn of SB Nation offered educated speculation Friday that the change of special teams coordinator from Maurice Drayton to Rich Bisaccia is what led to the team parting ways with Molson.

“The Packers used practice-squad protection on JJ Molson throughout the 2021 season, so they clearly liked him,” Hirschhorn wrote. “Cutting him now suggests that Rich Bisaccia, who didn’t join the team until February, felt differently.”

Bisaccia became familiar with Eberle during their time together with the Las Vegas Raiders, where Eberle served last season as the backup to starting kicker Daniel Carlson.

Bisaccia Joins Packers After Playoff Run as Interim Head Coach With Raiders

Rick Bisaccia Packers

GettyInterim head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders, looks on before coaching against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

It is fairly evident that whatever Bisaccia felt about Molson, he was more comfortable with his own guy in Eberle serving as Crosby’s backup heading into the Packers’ 2022 campaign.

Like Eberle, Bisaccia is also a new addition to Green Bay’s ranks this offseason. The Packers hired Bisaccia to run their special teams unit after he spent four years as the assistant head coach/special teams coordinator with the Raiders.

After the disgraced Jon Gruden left the top job on the sidelines in Las Vegas midseason over an email scandal — through which it was revealed that he had made racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments on several occasions — Bisaccia stepped in as the Raiders interim head coach. He helped lead the team to a playoff berth, ultimately losing narrowly to the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in the Wildcard Round.

Bisaccia was not hired as the head coach of the Raiders full time, leaving him open to join the Packers as their special teams coordinator. Drayton was dismissed following Green Bay’s disheartening playoff defeat in the NFC Divisional Round at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, by a score of 13-10.

Arguably the two biggest plays in that game were a missed Crosby field goal at the end of the first half and a blocked punt late in the second half that led to the Niners’ only touchdown of the game.

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