The New Orleans Saints cut kicker John Carney loose Tuesday, begging the question of whether the Green Bay Packers should bring him in as competition for the struggling Mason Crosby.
Carney, who ranks third in NFL history with 2,044 points scored, returned to the Saints this past summer after the team learned Garrett Hartley would be suspended for the first four games of the season. He kicked in nine games, but couldn’t hang on to the role permanently after hitting just 13 of 17 field goal attempts and 50 of 52 extra point tries.
Hartley has made seven of eight field goal attempts and seven of eight extra point attempts since returning to the lineup at Washington.
“I understand that’s the nature of the beast,” Carney told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s really tough to carry that many specialists on a roster, and I knew when you get late into a season, rosters get tight. And it was time for the Saints to load up their guns again for a final push into the postseason.”
Carney made 150 of 180 field goal attempts during his first run with the Saints from 2001-06 and has also kicked for the Bucs, Rams, Chargers, Jaguars, Chiefs and Giants in his 22-year career. He made the Pro Bowl with New York last year.
Some say the Packers would be foolish not to give Carney a try, even with just two games left in the regular season. Green Bay is at a critical point right now, and Crosby has missed a field goal in each of the last four games, including a 34-yarder at Pittsburgh on Sunday that was the difference in the Steelers’ 37-36 victory. At the very least, Carney can’t be much worse than his younger counterpart.
Coach Mike McCarthy has stuck by Crosby, at least publicly, saying Monday he has “zero interest” in bringing another kicker into town. The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause praises that loyalty and says now isn’t the time for the Packers to hang their young kicker out to dry.
He cites Ryan Longwell’s disastrous 2001 season, in which he made just 64.5 percent of his field goal attempts, as proof that even the best kickers can have bad years. Longwell bounced back by converting 85.2 percent of his field goal tries over the next three seasons. He’s the Packers’ all-time career leader in field goal accuracy and scoring.
Vandermause also points to Arizona’s Neil Rackers, the most accurate kicker in the NFL the past two seasons, who also rebounded from a terrible 2001 season and a 73.1 percent average in 2006 and 2007.
Yes, it would be a bit unfair for the Packers to bring another kicker in this late in the season, but how fair would it be if Crosby cost Green Bay a wild card playoff spot by shanking a few more kicks over the next two weeks?