Packers retaining Schum on exclusive rights deal
GREEN BAY - A strong playoff run was enough for punter Jacob Schum to convince the Green Bay Packers to retain him this offseason.
Schum will sign an exclusive rights deal with the Packers, a source said Thursday. An announcement will be made next week after he passes a physical.
It remains to be seen if the Packers will bring in another punter for offseason competition, as they did a year ago with predecessor Tim Masthay. But in early March, Schum is the favorite to be the Packers' punter for a second straight season.
Schum struggled at times during his first season with the Packers. He averaged 43.2 yards on 56 regular-season punts (27th in the league) with a 39.1-yard net average (24th), worse than Mathay's numbers in 2015. In the playoffs, Schum's averages increased to 47.6 yards on 11 postseason punts with a 43.5-yard net.
Despite shorter distance, the Packers favored the loft Schum put under his punts. Schum's 4.25-second hang time last season exceeded Masthay's 4.09 seconds in 2015, according to stats compiled by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It was an easy decision to bring back Schum. As an exclusive rights free agent, the Packers could sign Schum to a low-level deal no team could match. The minimum salary for players with Schum's two accrued seasons will be $615,000 in 2017.
There could be other deals announced in the coming days. The Packers are conducting several meetings with agents this week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Free agency starts Tuesday with the league's "legal tampering" period, when teams can negotiate with players outside their franchise. The first day to sign unrestricted free agents from other teams will be next Thursday.