Packers Prepare for Last Minute Moves
by Mike Conklin
August 29, 2012
This week's final preseason game will give those players at the bottom of the roster one last chance to show whether or not they are worthy to make the team. These players are not only competing with their teammates on the Packers, they are competing with every player in every camp across the entire NFL. Because if history tells us anything, there is a strong chance the Packers will bring in somebody that is on another team right now.
Ted Thompson and his staff go to great lengths to prepare for this time of year, and will be ready to make a move if the opportunity presents itself. In order to get a better idea of what we may expect as the Packers approach the roster deadline, it is insightful to look at what they have done in the past. Since Thompson's arrival in Green Bay, this time of year has been one of the busier periods for player acquisition. Here is a look at the flurry of cutdown-related moves that have been made during Thompson's tenure:
Trades: Traded CB Chris Johnson to Rams for LB Robert Thomas. Traded T Steve Morley to Jets for future draft pick.
Roster Moves: Signed TE Donald Lee, cut from the Dolphins.
Analysis: The Packers were in great need of help at linebacker, and Thomas had started 30 games in his career with the Rams. He came in and started nine games that season, but ended up missing six of the last seven games to injury and was eventually released the following spring. Chris Johnson went on to start 30 games over a six year career with the Rams and Raiders. As for the draft pick received from the Morley trade, the Packers received a seventh round pick in the 2007 draft. They ended up packaging that pick along with other selections in a deal that ultimately netted the Packers RB Brandon Jackson, S Aaron Rouse, and FB Korey Hall. Donald Lee was signed to the team a couple days after the final cuts and went on to have moderate success over a six year career with the Packers, including 178 receptions and 17 touchdowns.
Trades: Traded RB Samkon Gado to Texans for RB Vernand Morency. (Not at roster deadline, but after Week 1.)
Roster Moves: Claimed three players on waivers, including CB Jarrett Bush, G Tony Palmer, and S Charlie Peprah.
Analysis: The Packers actually trimmed their roster to 51 on cutdown day, knowing they would pick up players from other teams. Bush remains with the team to this day and is one of the Packers signature special teams players, and may even begin the season as starting cornerback. Peprah played five seasons with the Packers and was pressed into starting duty after Morgan Burnett suffered a season-ending knee injury during the championship season in 2010. In fact, Peprah led the team in tackles during the Super Bowl (10). Although he was with the team for two seasons, Tony Palmer never started a game and was rarely even active on game day. Vernand Morency never made an impact.
Trades: Traded future sixth round draft pick to Giants for RB Ryan Grant.
Roster Moves: Claimed FB John Kuhn on waivers from the Steelers.
Grant burst on to the scene down the stretch of his first year in Green Bay, went on to rack up two 1,200 yard rushing seasons, and ended up with over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns during his Packers career. Kuhn remains a solid contributor on both offense and special teams, and was famously ranked #92 in this year's NFL Network ranking of the top 100 players in the NFL. He is reliable as both a blocker and a receiver, and has scored 18 touchdowns so far for the Packers.
Roster Moves: Signed P Derrick Frost and LS Brett Goode.
Analysis: The Packers cut Jon Ryan to bring in Frost, and this proved to be one of Thompson's poorest roster moves in hindsight. The Packers struggled through two seasons of poor punting before finally solving the issue with Masthay. The signing of Goode, who had been on the street for months and wasn't even in a training camp, was necessitated by the fact that the Packers long snapper at the time (J.J. Jansen) was injured in the final preseason game.
Trades: Traded T Tony Moll to Ravens for S Derrick Martin.
Roster Moves: None
Analysis: The Packers had signed free agent safety Anthony Smith previously that offseason, but ultimately felt that Derrick Martin had more upside as a backup safety and special teams player. Martin was with the Packers for two seasons, but missed most of 2010 to injury and was released the following spring.
Roster Moves: None
Trades: Traded G Caleb Schlauderaff to Jets and FB Quinn Johnson to Titans for future conditional draft picks.
Roster Moves: None
Analysis: The Packers received a seventh round pick for the Schlauderaff trade, and packaged it to move up to draft Terrell Manning in this year's draft. There was no compensation for the Johnson trade, because he was cut by the Titans after four games.
In every season but one, the Packers have been active this time of year. In fact, over the past seven seasons they have added eleven players to the roster who did not spend training camp with the team. Using history as a guide, it is actually more likely that the Packers will bring in two new players rather than stand pat with the players they have now.
There is a good chance that when the roster cuts are announced Friday there will be a player who is excited he made the team, only to be summoned to turn in his iPad playbook the next day. That's the nature of the business, and the Packers do it as much as any team if not more. What is in the favor of the current crop of players is the fact that as the Packers have become a better and deeper team, there have been fewer moves this time of year. But unlike the past two seasons, it might be different this time around.
Unless Derek Sherrod is healthier than the Packers are letting on, their offensive line appears woefully thin. They brought in veteran Reggie Wells to help halfway through training camp, and undrafted rookie Don Barclay has been receiving attention lately from the beat writers because of his improvement over the past two weeks. Even so, neither of those players have shown enough to truly inspire confidence that the team would be able to depend on them in the event of a rash of injuries. It seems a very realistic possibility that there may be an offensive lineman that is currently with another team who may be on the opening day roster for the Packers when the dust settles.
The Packers may be more likely to trade for a player this time around, based on the fact that their excellent regular season record last year will put them in an unfavorable position when it comes to making waiver claims. Whatever the case may be, there is little doubt that the Packers will be exploring every option as the deadline nears.
Photo Credit: Associated Press