FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Tim Masthay, punter
Season stats: 17 games; 64 punts, 2,854 total yards (44.6 average), 2,493 net yards (39.0 net average), 22 downed inside the 20-yard line, five touchbacks; 36 kickoffs, 2,394 yards (66.5 average), 17 touchbacks
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 14.3 (ranked No. 24 out of 32 qualified NFL punters)
Best game: Week 1 loss at San Francisco (six punts, 277 total yards with 269 net yards (44.8 net average); five kickoffs, three touchbacks; 4.4 PFF rating)
Worst game: Wild-card round playoff loss vs. San Francisco (five punts, 197 total yards with 177 net yards (35.4 net average); minus-2.8 PFF rating)
Looking live: As he entered his fourth season with the Packers, Tim Masthay had already done enough to earn his spot as a long-term piece of Green Bay’s roster. Masthay secured that status back in August 2012 when he signed a four-year contract extension worth nearly $5.5 million. But, still only 26 years old when he reported to the 2013 training camp, there was plenty of room for Masthay to continually improve. He had shown that by increasing his punting net average steadily over his first three NFL seasons (from 37.6 to 38.6 to 38.9). While kicker Mason Crosby was locked into to a battle for his job with Giorgio Tavecchio, Masthay had no competition to worry about. With the possibility that Tavecchio (who lacked great leg strength) could beat out Crosby, the Packers started working Masthay on kickoffs. By Day 10 of training camp, Masthay, Tavecchio and Crosby were all rotating with kickoffs in practice. Masthay showed that he had the strongest leg of the three (winning the first round by being the only one to kick it out of the end zone), but he followed it up with the main reason to be concerned about him in that role when he mishit the next ball and only got it to the 15-yard line. On Day 16 of camp, in a similar drill between the three, Masthay was the best among them by booting both of his kicks far out of the end zone.
Upon further review: "Tim has probably had the highest performance level of any kicker (on kickoffs) if you go through all the practices and things like that," coach Mike McCarthy said near the end of training camp. "It’s a real strength of his." It was with that in mind that, even though Crosby defeated his challengers for the role of field-goal kicker, Masthay began the regular season on kickoff duty. He started off the season strong, both on kickoffs and punts. But after a poor Week 7 performance at home against Cleveland, the Packers began to pull the plug on the experiment of using Masthay on kickoffs. Perhaps a tired leg factored in, or maybe it was just coincidental that it was nearing midseason and Masthay’s performance was slightly dipping. Either way, after Week 8, Masthay only had one more kickoff the rest of the season. It was clear, though, that Masthay could kick the ball farther than Crosby, as Masthay’s touchback rate was 47.2 percent and Crosby’s was 22.8 percent. In the punting game, Masthay once again topped his previous career high with a 39.0 net average. While that only ranks him 21st in the NFL among punters, take into consideration how often Masthay kicked outdoors in cold weather conditions, whereas the majority of his peers don’t have to deal with that.
Overall 2013 grade: B-minus
Status for 2014: One-hundred percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. Masthay isn’t going anywhere for quite a while. His cap number is $1.24 million in 2014 and will grow to $1.54 million in 2016 (the final year of Masthay’s current contract). By that time, Masthay will be 29 years old. For now, though, Masthay is a mostly steady punter who could really help Green Bay’s special teams if he’s ever able to show the same consistency on kickoffs. There would be a great benefit to McCarthy if he’s confidently able to choose on a situational basis between Masthay’s strong leg and Crosby’s directional kicking skills.