With the regular season only a week away, every team had to cut their roster down to 53 players. Every year a few players make the team when they shouldn’t have or promising players get cut. This time out was no exception, as several moves were pretty bad head-scratchers in the eyes of most fans. Today we’ll be breaking down the top 3 players that got cut, and the bottom 3 players that made the roster.
Bad Cut #1: Punter Pat O’Donnell
The Packers special teams have been horrible for the past decade. No big returns or elite performances ever, until last year. The resurgence of the return game with Nixon and a steady, consistent punter drastically improved the special teams unit from the year prior. Not only that, O’Donnell added a great veteran presence in the locker room that will be seriously missed with how young our team is this year. I understand the youth movement, and I have faith in Whelan as our punter for years to come, but I feel like they could’ve kept O’Donnell around for the last year of his contract to have a smoother transition into the future. Overall, I’m not too upset about it because I know Whelan has a huge leg, but it was for sure surprising to see O’Donnell let go this off-season.
Bad Roster Spot #1: Guard Royce Newman
Royce Newman is the epitome of mediocre. I genuinely have no idea how this guy is still on the roster. He’s had a million opportunities to prove he could be a solid rotational guy at worst, and he has somehow done even worse than that. I think I can speak for the vast majority of Packer fans when I say this guy stinks. Truly a turnstile on the offensive line that doesn’t deserve a spot on this team. There are plenty of young guys here who can easily overtake him if they play at an average level. It’s just so mind-boggling to see this guy play because he either commits a penalty or gets blown by. The Packers for some reason have an incredibly hard time getting rid of bad players like Newman (Amari Rodgers/Darius Shepard I’m looking at you) and it’s so frustrating. Hopefully, he proves literally everybody wrong and turns into an absolute stud this year, but I have zero faith in that happening.
Bad Cut #2: ILB Tariq Carpenter
Tariq Carpenter was by far in a way one of our best special teamers last year. Carpenter, McDuffie, Leavitt, and Jean-Charles were the bright spots for that unit last year, and it’ll definitely be noticed that he’s gone. It already feels like the special teams group this year is going to take a pretty big step back with a whole plethora of good teamers being let go. He also was a solid rotational guy when he needed to step into games, being able to chase the ball at a productive level and tackle pretty well too. I understand why they let him go, with 4 other inside linebackers already on the roster, but it will definitely hurt a little to see him gone. The Steelers have picked him up for their practice squad, so his time in Green Bay is officially over.
Bad Roster Spot #2: OLB Brenton Cox Jr.
Brenton Cox Jr. is a bizarre guy to look at. He’s a freak athlete with a lot of upside that played at a high level the entire preseason. Looking at that alone, this is a terrible take and I shouldn’t ever write again, but it’s much deeper than just how good he is at football. Cox had a rough collegiate career, being dismissed from Georgia and Florida in his 5-year career. These dismissals stemmed from being arrested, having fights with the staff, and overall poor personal conduct. After having Quay Walker have 2 fits last year that cost us both of the games, I would not like any other players on the team with any chance of doing that. So far this year he’s been well behaved due to the clean slate he’s been given, but I’m still extremely worried that his personality will act up again. Actions like that are a distraction to the locker room and can really divide the team. In a year where teamwork and team chemistry means more than ever, I don’t know if it’s a great idea to have a guy who is known for having bad behavior on our roster.
Bad Cut #3: Cutting Both Long Snappers
Bad long snappers and Green Bay go together like peanut butter and jelly. For the past few years, it seemed like every long snapper we brought in couldn’t do their job at a sufficient level. The snaps were either low or too high and have caused blunders for the special teams unit all the time. During roster cut downs the Packers felt like it was a phenomenal idea to cut BOTH long snappers at once. I understand that it was so they could put some players on IR, but cutting both was absolutely wild. What would we have done if someone picked Orzech up? We would’ve been without a long snapper and would have to go find a new one with a week left before opening day. I’m glad it worked out and we were able to retain Orzech, but dear lord was it a roller coaster of emotions when I first saw we released both long snappers that were with us all camp.
Bad Roster Spot #3: Having Only 4 Corners on the Roster
Before I start, yes I understand that Stokes is on the PUP list and he will be back this year. That doesn’t excuse the fact having 4 corners on the opening-day roster is a recipe for disaster. One of which is a rookie (he does look really good though) and another is our kick returner. I just do not love that at all, and releasing Shemar Jean-Charles just weakened the group even more. SJC was a great special teamer and did a solid job when he needed to step up. I really don’t get how it makes any sense to run 4 corners for at least 6 weeks of the season this year. Injuries happen, and if Jaire or Rasul goes down, our secondary will be even weaker than it already is. I’m praying they add another corner before the start of the year, just to act as insurance in case the worst happens.