Final cuts in the NFL never fail to surprise, and Ted Thompson certainly delivered in that regard. Many moves left fans scratching their heads, and a few left the entire NFL scratching wondering what happened. Some moves seem brilliant and some seem certifiably insane, but let’s try to hold off judgement until we see how the season begins to pan out. For now, let’s delve into the most interesting moves made by Green Bay as they went from 75 players to the final 53.
For those of you who read my piece ranking the Packers’ wide receivers (shame on those who didn’t), I predicted that the team would keep only six. Never in the McCarthy Era has the team kept seven wideouts, and rarely is it done in the NFL. This is due to the trio of Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, and Trevor Davis making a strong case for the team. Usually team’s have no use for seven guys, but with Janis’ and Davis’ special teams abilities and Abbrederis’ skill to be as high as the third or fourth receiving option, it appears they left Ted Thompson with no choice but to keep them all.
No long snapper? Well played, Ted, well played
Many people were left scratching their heads when the Packers kept six undrafted free agents and released their only long snapper on the day of final cuts. However, after rosters were finalized and waiver claims were handed out, the team moved Makinton Dorleant to IR and signed long-time long snapper Brett Goode. Essentially, Thompson knew all along that Dorleant wasn’t going to make the roster, but rather than waiving him and allow another team to sign him, they held onto him for a few days before shutting him down for the season and re-opening a roster spot for Goode. Dorleant will be with the team through the season and the offseason in advance of next year, when he’ll have a better chance of making the roster for good.
Sitton and Barrington… What?
Let me be the first to say that both of these moves blindsided me and pretty much everybody else in the football world, especially Josh Sitton. Sitton may be 30 years old and in a contract dispute, but he is one of the best guards in the NFL and has been an incredibly consistent player for the Packers. Within hours of his release more than 10 teams were attempting to sign him. Now that he’s finalized a three-year, $21 million contract with Chicago, he basically got a raise and the chance to dominate on the line against the Packers twice a year. On the other hand there’s Sam Barrington. He was the presumed No. 1 inside linebacker last year before landing on IR for the season with an ankle injury. He was still expected to start or be a top backup while in the final year of his rookie contract, which makes his release all the more surprising. It’s not as though he was an expensive player and his absence has left the team with just three inside linebackers, unless of course Clay Matthews slides inside once again.
How many undrafted rookies?
Now that Makinton Dorleant has been moved to IR, Green Bay has five undrafted rookies on the current roster. Kentrell Brice, Joe Callahan, Marwin Evans, and Josh Hawkins were with the team throughout training camp, and Jhurell Pressley was signed after being cut by Minnesota. The haul of rookies here is impressive to say the least, especially because they can contribute, for the most part. Callahan hopefully won’t see anytime unless there’s a blowout while backup quarterback Brett Hundley is still nursing his injured ankle. The rest of the rookies could see time on special teams. Brice, Evans, and Hawkins aren’t likely to see much time in the secondary unless injuries plague the unit. Pressley, the unknown of the group since not many people in Green Bay saw his preseason performances, has been rumored to be the team’s third-down back. Don’t be surprised if he makes his way into the running back rotation with his strength and speed (benched 225 pounds for 25 reps at the combine and ran a 4.40 second 40 yard dash).