The Green Bay Packers released offensive lineman Greg Van Roten on Tuesday, according to the NFL's transaction wire.
Even with starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith set to become an unrestricted free agent March and his future in Green Bay uncertain, that apparently wasn't enough to save Van Roten's job.
Perhaps the Packers figured they have sufficient depth even if Dietrich-Smith were to leave between J.C. Tretter and Garth Gerhart, who are also currently on the roster.
Van Roten suffered a foot injury this past season, which landed him on season-ending injured reserve, but apparently that had nothing to do with his release, according to an interview with Van Roten's agent appearing at ESPN.com.
“I spoke to them, and they felt like they wanted to get bigger,” agent Bill Baldini is quoted as saying. “They didn’t think he’d be in their plans for the immediate future, so they decided it would be better for him if they let him go now. It’s a shame because he loves the Packers organization and loves the town.”
Van Roten had decent height at 6-3, but is a little on the light side at 303 lbs. The Packers became more of run-oriented offense this past season with the addition of Eddie Lacy, so it could be a case where they're looking to continue to move in that direction.
It's doubtful Van Roten's release has anything to do with Dietrich-Smith's future in Green Bay one way or the other, although it remains to be seen how much the incumbent starter will make on the open market, or for that matter, how the Packers would replace him if he leaves.
Tretter may get first crack at replacing Dietrich-Smith if the need arises, but for a player who hasn't played a single down in the NFL, Tretter is still a big question mark.
Van Roten played in 10 games for the Packers the past two seasons. After being cut in training camp in 2012, Van Roten started the season on the practice squad before being called up midway through the season, playing in seven games down the stretch.
He then started the 2013 season making the team and playing the first three games of the year, primarily on special teams before the foot injury ended his season.
Van Roten's release comes on the heels of representing the Packers in a goodwill tour, visiting American military members in Japan during the Super Bowl.
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