GREEN BAY – If the Green Bay Packers keep an undrafted rookie on their roster for the 13th straight year, the punter position appears to be the most likely spot.
The Packers announced Thursday they were releasing Jacob Schum, their punter from 2016, leaving undrafted rookie Justin Vogel as the only punter on the roster. Schum had yet to participate during OTAs because of injury and was ultimately waived injured.
“That’s kind of the nature of the NFL,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said. “I think everybody gets in that situation one time or another. You’d like to be status quo there, but I think change is human nature. People resist change, but it is what it is in this league and you deal with it to do what you’ve got to get done.”
Vogel was a second-team All-ACC selection as a senior at Miami last season. He built a reputation for having a big leg, averaging 43.8 yards per punt in 13 games last season. He was a directional kicker for the Hurricanes, and that’s what Zook will ask him to do in Green Bay.
Vogel went undrafted and chose to sign with the Packers despite interest from a handful of other teams. One of his deciding factors was the team-friendly contract situation for Schum, who received a tender from the Packers as an exclusive rights free agent. Schum could be released without a financial hit.
“It was one of the reasons why I came here,” Vogel said. “There were other teams that asked me to come out of the combine after the combine was over. But with the veterans that are either strong veterans or guys that are on big contracts, there’s more incentives than just playing incentives to keep guys around. I knew that with the current contract that Schum had, there was an equal opportunity to let the better punter win.”
With Vogel currently facing no competition on the roster, the Packers' starting punter job is his to lose. The Packers' roster stands at its maximum 90 players, but the front office could always make a move before training camp to bring in another punter for competition if Vogel struggles.
Schum, who replaced Tim Masthay late in training camp a year ago, signed a one-year exclusive rights tender this spring. He punted in all 16 regular-season games, ranking 27th in the league with a 43.2-yard average and 24th with a 39.1-yard net average. Schum improved in the Packers' three playoffs games, averaging 47.6 yards per punt with a 43.5-yard net.
The Packers filled Schum’s spot on the roster with Colby Pearson, an undrafted receiver out of BYU. They also signed fourth-round running back Jamaal Williams, leaving third-round defensive tackle Montravius Adams as the only unsigned draftee.