Packers signing former Bears punter Pat O'Donnell; Equanimeous St. Brown bound for Chicago
GREEN BAY - A day after dropping punter Corey Bojorquez, the Green Bay Packers have replaced him with former Chicago Bears punter Pat O'Donnell.
According to NFL Network, the Packers agreed to terms with O'Donnell, who has been the Bears' punter for the last eight seasons. A source said it was a two-year deal worth $4 million.
The Packers chose not to re-sign Bojorquez, who was an unrestricted free agent, because his performance plummeted in cold weather and his holding on place kicks was part of the reason kicker Mason Crosby struggled.
Three other teams were bidding for O'Donnell, including the Bears, according to a source. But the Packers appeared to be committed to him being their punter this year and made a strong push
Last year, O'Donnell, 31, averaged 46.2 yards per punt in 2021, which ranked just below Bojorquez's gross average of 46.5. His net average of 38.5 ranked below Bojorquez's 40.0, but he landed one more punt inside the 20 (19) than Bojorquez.
O'Donnell's performance in outdoor December games last year was essentially the same as it was during warm weather months. He averaged 45.5, 53.7 and 45.4 yards in three December games at Soldier Field, which is a notoriously tough place to punt because of swirling winds from the lake.
He also averaged 46.3 at Green Bay in Week 14 and 45 at Seattle in Week 16.
Bojorquez was inconsistent in the cold, averaging 42.7, 47 and 31.5 in Lambeau Field December games and 48.67 at Baltimore in a December game. His net averages in his last six regular-season games was 39.8, 10.0, 42.0, 41.8, 21.5 and 35.
O'Donnell, a sixth-round pick by the Bears in 2014, punted 62 times for 2,865 yards with a long of 72 yards last year. His career averages are 45.1 gross and 39. 3 net.
Almost as important as his punting was that O'Donnell served as the Bears' holder his entire career. The past two seasons kicker Cairo Santos was a combined 56 of 62 on field goals.
Bojorquez had to deal with poor long snapping from Hunter Bradley and Steve Wirtel, but there were times when a more skilled holder would have been able to get the ball into place despite a bad snap. The entire operation was a mess for most of the season and Bojorquez wasn't the only reason Crosby only connected on 25 of 34 field goals and missed two extra points.
The Packers traded a sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams before the start of last season, receiving Bojorquez and a seventh-round pick in return. Bojorquez, who almost won a position battle in L.A. against four-time All-Pro Justin Hekker, replaced former fifth-round pick JK Scott.
The change paid significant dividends early. Through 12 games, Bojorquez, a left-footed punter who could boom the ball when at his best, ranked fourth in the NFL with 43.8 net yards per punt
Bojorquez fell off steeply in the final six games, counting playoffs. He finished 18th in the NFL with 40 net yards per punt. Then came the NFC divisional round against the San Francisco 49ers, when Bojorquez's blocked punt late in the fourth quarter tied the score, eventually becoming the signature meltdown in a shocking loss.
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There were multiple destinations for Bojorquez to choose for his next team after losing the competition to Hekker last year. Bojorquez said he ultimately requested the Packers for the challenge of punting inside Lambeau Field. Now, he'll be searching for a new team for the second straight year.
EQ's exit further reduces Packers' receiving corps
The Packers' receiver position keeps getting thinner.
Equanimeous St. Brown, the Packers' former sixth-round pick in 2018, is signing with the Bears, a source confirmed to PackersNews. St. Brown is the second former Packers player to sign with the Bears this week, joining offensive lineman Lucas Patrick. Both will rejoin former Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy, who left Green Bay to become the Bears' offensive coordinator.
The Athletic was first to report St. Brown is signing with the Bears.
St. Brown's departure continues to dwindle an already shallow Packers receiving group. The Packers could also lose Marquez Valdes-Scantling after the 2018 fifth-round pick became an unrestricted free agent this week.
The Packers used a franchise tag on All-Pro Davante Adams, placed a second-round tender on Allen Lazard and retained Randall Cobb with a pay cut. None are under contract in 2023.
The only receiver on the Packers' roster under contract beyond this season is Amari Rodgers, a third-round pick last season.
Packers assistants get promotions
A day after the NFL's new year began, Packers coach Matt LaFleur announced a flurry of changes to his coaching staff.
LaFleur promoted defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery to defensive line/running game coordinator and assistant defensive backs coach Ryan Downard to safeties coach.
He also hired Ramsen Golpashin as offensive quality control coach, Quinshon Odom as a coaching assistant (minority fellowship) and Michael Spurlock as a special teams quality control coach.
Montgomery, entering his eighth season on the Packers staff, originally was hired by former head coach Mike McCarthy as a defensive front assistant. He has been the Packers defensive line coach the past four seasons. It is his first time with a coordinator title attached to his job duties.
Downard was hired by LaFleur in 2019 as assistant defensive backs coach. His promotion gives the Packers a coach specifically focused on safeties. Jerry Gray, who was hired as defensive backs/passing game coordinator before the 2020 season, will retain his role leading the coverage schemes.
Golpashin was hired from UCLA, where he was the defensive line analyst and offensive graduate assistant.
Odom previously worked for the Packers player personnel department in 2018. He was an offensive line graduate assistant last season at the University of Texas.
Spurlock was a senior analyst at Ole Miss the past two seasons.