Second in a series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ unrestricted, restricted and exclusive-rights free agents in advance of the start of the 2017 league year and NFL free agency March 9.
GREEN BAY - Mason Crosby wasn’t the only player affected when Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett tried to ice the Green Bay Packers kicker before the final play of this past season’s NFC divisional playoff game.
True, the kicker defines a game-winning field goal. But he wouldn’t be worth much without a good snap and hold. Just ask Trey Junkin, the former New York Giants long snapper, how much one botched snap can impact a career.
Junkin’s wide snap that ruined the Giants' chances of winning a 2003 NFC wild-card game at San Francisco became the final — and most memorable — play in his 20-year career. He immediately retired after the game.
Brett Goode, the Packers’ veteran long snapper, avoided a Junkin moment in Dallas. Twice inside the final 93 seconds, Goode was called on to provide the snap for lengthy Crosby field goals. He delivered both times, including the game-winning, 51-yard kick after Garrett’s timeout.
Goode came through just as he has during his nine seasons with the Packers. Only this season was unlike any other.
Goode took a long road back after tearing his ACL against the Raiders on Dec. 20, 2015, at Oakland. He missed the season’s final two games and the entire offseason program and training camp, but the Packers re-signed him.
Inside the visitor’s locker room at AT&T Stadium, only minutes after the biggest snap of his career, Goode thought about his long journey.
“It’s just speechless,” Goode said. “There’s no words for it. It’s (been) an emotional ride. It’s a fun ride. I’m so glad and thankful to be a part of this team.”
Goode once again faces an uncertain future this offseason. He’s set to become a free agent next month.
If Goode re-signs for another minimum deal, his 2017 salary will be $900,000 because he has nine accrued seasons. It would be fine value for the Packers. Goode’s salary of $885,000 last season ranked 20th among NFL long snappers.
But the Packers ensured Goode will have to compete for his job. General manager Ted Thompson’s first move of the offseason was signing long snapper Taybor Pepper, a four-year starter at Michigan State between 2012-15 who did not play last season. Pepper, 10 years younger than Goode, is a better athlete for the position. His 2017 salary of $465,000 is also just over half of what Goode would be paid.
Pepper's presence won’t prevent the Packers from re-signing Goode to a minimum deal. There’s space to carry two long snappers on a 90-man offseason roster. Pepper also won’t prevent Goode from retaining his starting job, if Goode performs better this offseason.
Saving $435,000 isn’t worth it if a potential game-winning snap goes awry. In Dallas, Goode demonstrated that all 46 players on the game-day roster have value — even long snappers.
Brett Goode, 10th-year long snapper
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: Played 142 games.
2016 salary: $885,000.