Veteran Packers Who Should Be Worried
The NFL Draft changes the face of every team’s roster and the Green Bay Packers are no exception, even though they’re the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Several veterans will go into training camp to fight for a roster spot, while others will simply be let go during free agency. Here’s a look at which players from the 2010 Packers’ roster are most affected by the latest Packers’ draft class.
James Jones and Brett Swain
Although they haven’t stated it publicly, the Packers may already have decided not to re-sign Jones if he’s an unrestricted free agent. If Jones is a restricted free agent, which seems more likely, the team almost certainly would not match a big-money offer. Should the Packers re-sign Jones at a reasonable salary, then Swain suddenly looks like the odd man out. The Packers need room for second-round pick [intlink id="1616" type="category"]Randall Cobb[/intlink] and the team hasn’t kept more than five receivers on the roster since 2007. With [intlink id="138" type="category"]Greg Jennings[/intlink], [intlink id="76" type="category"]Donald Driver[/intlink], [intlink id="22" type="category"]Jordy Nelson[/intlink] and Cobb occupying roster spots, that leaves one spot for Jones or Swain. Free agency might answer the question for us and it might not. If there’s a ray of hope for another receiver, it’s this. The last time the Packers kept six receivers, one of them was [intlink id="18" type="category"]Koren Robinson[/intlink], who was the team’s primary kick returner. Cobb is expected to fill that role this season.
Brandon Jackson, Dmitri Nance, John Kuhn and Korey Hall
Something’s got to give at running back. The Packers added third-round pick [intlink id="1618" type="category"]Alex Green[/intlink] to the tandem of [intlink id="64" type="category"]Ryan Grant[/intlink] and [intlink id="1038" type="category"]James Starks[/intlink]. That could spell the end of the line for [intlink id="77" type="category"]Brandon Jackson[/intlink], who like Jones, has four NFL years under his belt and will be a free agent of some sort when the collective bargaining agreement gets figured out. The little-used Nance, who the Packers picked up off Atlanta’s practice squad last season, faces an uphill climb to make the roster regardless of what happens with Jackson. That brings us to two heads of the three-headed fullback monster. Kuhn will likely be an unrestricted free agent and while he expects to be back with the Packers, there’s no guarantee that will happen, especially with Green’s addition. Hall, who’s also a free agent with four years of service, was primarily a special teams player last season. Whether that’s good enough to keep him on the roster instead of a fourth running back, if the Packers re-sign him, remains to be seen. H-back [intlink id="1629" type="category"]Ryan Taylor[/intlink], who the Packers drafted in the seventh round, seems more likely to end up on the practice squad than the active roster, but his presence illustrates just how crowded the Packers’ backfield is.
Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee
The addition of [intlink id="1622" type="category"]Davon House[/intlink] in the fourth round will likely spell the end for one of these defensive backs. Lee simply hasn’t lived up to expectations as a former second-round pick. Underwood, meanwhile, fell off the map after starting training camp strong, last year. He was eventually moved to safety. The Packers top three corners are set with [intlink id="143" type="category"]Charles Woodson[/intlink], [intlink id="82" type="category"]Tramon Williams[/intlink] and [intlink id="1061" type="category"]Sam Shields[/intlink]. [intlink id="88" type="category"]Jarrett Bush[/intlink] played well last season as a dime back. Unless Bush regresses, Lee will have a hard time making the roster. And if Underwood doesn’t show something as a safety, he’s probably on his way out, too.
Tom Crabtree, Spencer Havner and Andrew Quarless
The Packers have one lock at tight end — [intlink id="209" type="category"]Jermichael Finley[/intlink]. After that, what happens is anyone’s guess. The team drafted Arkansas tight end [intlink id="1624" type="category"]D.J. Williams[/intlink], the 2010 Mackey winner, in the fifth round. While the Packers have shown a willingness to keep three tight ends on the roster in the past, two among this trio — Crabtree, Havner and Quarless — will still find themselves looking for a job after training camp. Havner, who was cut during training camp last year, seems as good as gone. That leaves Quarless and Crabtree battling for one spot.
It’s already shaping up as an interesting training camp. Let’s hope there is one.