At the end of every summer, the Green Bay Packers end up cutting a couple veteran players whose release comes as a surprise. Last year, it was receiver Ruvell Martin and safety Anthony Smith.
Here’s a list of several players who could potentially be on that list this year.
Justin Harrell, defensive tackle — The former first-round pick has played in a total of 13 games in his Packers career and did not play at all in 2009. Injuries have derailed Harrell’s career and a recurring back injury kept him out last season. This looks like Harrell’s last shot to impress and he isn’t exactly blowing anyone away. Among the backups at defensive end, rookie Mike Neal has outperformed Harrell and C.J. Wilson, another rookie, looks like he has long-term potential. Harrell has been healthy for most of camp before back pain sidelined him earlier this week. If he can stay on the field, Harrell has a shot to stick. If he can’t, this is likely his last go round with the Packers.
Chances of being cut: 60%
Will Blackmon, safety — Blackmon is coming off a torn ACL and he’s practiced only sporadically during training camp. In the offseason, the Packers moved Blackmon from cornerback to safety, even though the team’s cornerback depth is questionable. That alone is a bad omen for Blackmon. The one factor working in his favor is, when healthy, Blackmon is the Packers top return man. Of course, if his knee keeps acting up and the team doesn’t feel like they can count on him, that doesn’t do him much good. The Packers seem find with Brandon Jackson as the kickoff returner and could use Jordy Nelson or Tramon Williams as a punt returner. At last glance, Blackmon was third on the depth chart at strong safety, behind Morgan Burnett and Charlie Peprah. Atari Bigby, who’s injured, also plays the position.
Chances of being cut: 55%
Derrick Martin, safety — Martin has been a core member of the Packers special teams units, but he hasn’t done much on defense. He currently sits behind Nick Collins on the free safety depth chart and may stick only because the Packers don’t seem to have another serviceable free safety on the roster. That being said, Martin hasn’t distinguished himself in any way other than special teams coverage since coming over in a trade with Baltimore prior to last season.
Chances of being cut: 35%
Jarrett Bush, cornerback — We’ve all been waiting for the day when the Packers finally release the worst cornerback to ever play the position. This may be the year. Like Martin, the Packers like Bush for his special teams play, but he’s atrocious on defense. If they didn’t know it before, they saw first hand how bad Bush was in the playoff loss to Arizona, last season. The Packers will keep six cornerbacks and Bush is currently fighting for that last spot with rookie Sam Shields.
Chances of being cut: 50%
Allen Barbre, guard/tackle — It probably wouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who’s seen him play if the Packers cut Barbre, but we’re including him here because he was an opening-day starter last year. The Packers have always been high on Barbre’s potential, but he’s done nothing to reward their faith. Barbre is now toiling at left guard, where he sits behind Daryn Colledge and Bryan Bulaga. His chances of making the team are slim.
Chances of being cut: 90%
Quinn Johnson, fullback — In typical Ted Thompson fashion, the Packers drafted Johnson in 2009 when they already had two solid fullbacks. Thompson then decided to keep three fullbacks on the roster for the 2009 season. That won’t happen again this year. Johnson is third again on the depth chart behind Korey Hall and John Kuhn and he’s been outperformed by both during camp. On top of that, both Hall and Kuhn are valuable on special teams — an area Johnson has made no impact. If Johnson doesn’t start knocking incoming linebackers back five yards during the remaining preseason games, he’ll be getting a pink slip.
Chances of being cut: 85%
Another interesting scenario to watch will be the one that unfolds along the offensive line. It appears highly likely that Bulaga will beat out Colledge for the left guard job. Jason Spitz was also supposed to compete for that job, but he’s been shuffled all around the line. Under normal circumstances, we’d put both Colledge and Spitz on this list, but being former starters, both have trade value. Look for the Packers to move one of the two in order to keep a developmental player like Marshall Newhouse or Evan Dietrich-Smith. The smart money is on Colledge being traded, since Spitz can play multiple positions on the line.