In the never-ending irony that is the NFL to the real world, Labor Day weekend has brought unemployment to a host of football players throughout the country.
On this weekend that we celebrate the American worker, the Green Bay Packers sent 22 players to the unemployment line. Some may resurface on other teams or on the practice squad, but others will be looking for a new line of work.
First lets look at the Packers' moves:
Quarterback Brian Brohm - This really is a different Ted Thompson we are seeing, isn't it? Starting with his trading up in the draft to take Clay Matthews to more quickly acknowledging mistakes, he seems to have a greater sense of urgency this year (if that phrase even makes sense in the context of describing Ted Thompson).
I had gotten really sick of hearing people say how it was too soon to give up on Brohm and defending his arm over Matt Flynn's. Brohm can not complete a pass over 10 yards. Brohm is just a bad quarterback. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...
Having said all this, if Brohm clears waivers, I do think he will be brought back to the practice squad, mostly because he knows the offense.
Safety Anthony Smith - For most people, this was the shocker. Capers just last week indicated he was competing for the starting job with Bigby and now he's gone. There had to be more to this than just on-the-field performance. Rumors are swirling of attitude issues and not wanting to play special teams. The new acquisition of Derrick Martin from the Ravens sealed his fate.
Wide receiver Ruvell Martin - Certainly a surprise, but his main strength has always been blocking downfield. Despite having good size, the Packers didn't often utilize Martin in the Red Zone, and now with Jermichael Finley laying claim to that piece of real estate, keeping the more versatile Swain makes sense.
Running back Kregg Lumpkin - Alas, my favorite Packer running back is gone. When the Packers decided to keep 3 fullbacks, his fate was certainly sealed. He has a good chance to get picked up by another team.
Running back Tyrell Sutton - Another real surprise, but again, keeping three fullbacks for their special teams play and Sutton's own lack of special teams prowess got him sacked. Now, I do think the Packers hope to bring him back to the practice squad. I also think that by releasing Lumpkin at the same time, they hope that Lumpkin draws the attention of other teams and they leave Sutton alone.
Wide receiver Jake Allen - never had a chance.
Wide receiver Kole Heckendorf - A Wisconsin native, he was the surprise WR in camp. I thought it would be Jaron Harris, but Heckendorf outlasted him. Definite practice squad possibility.
Guard/tackle Andrew Hartline - I predicted that an undrafted free agent offensive lineman would make the team, I just picked the wrong one. I thought Hartline would be the guy, but the choice was Evan Dietrich-Smith. Dietrich-Smith's experience in having played every OL position in college surely was a big factor, but Hartline just never seemed to distinguish himself in camp. He held his own, but didn't impress and the Packers have too many guards already.
Tackle Jamon Meredith - Drafted as the possible LT of the future, I think the Packers discovered Meredith to be a far bigger project than expected. They are probably hoping other teams see that as well and let the Packers slip him onto the practice squad.
Linebacker Cyril Obiozor - This was a tough one. He is nowhere near being ready, but he has the perfect size and demeanor to be a good OLB in the NFL. Much patience will be required and with the Packers depth at LB, there was just no room. Word is that other teams are interested, so he may done with the Packers.
Tackle Dane Randolph - Randolph is a really good guy, hard worker, just too green and too inconsistent.
Nose tackle Dean Muhtadi - He was 4th on the nose tackle depth chart and the first one let go. No surprise.
Defensive end Ronald Talley - A project, but the Packers coaches like Talley and will certainly look to add him to the practice squad.
Nose tackle Anthony Toribio - He is the potential nose tackle insurance if something happens to Pickett or Raji. Practice squad for sure.
Defensive end Alfred Malone - Never had much of a chance. Not skilled enough, just a big body.
Linebacker Danny Lansanah - Good guy, good player, just not good enough.
Cornerback Joe Porter - Fastest player on the team, good run defender but not so good in coverage. Underwood has more upside, so he sticks.
Cornerback Trevor Ford - Was just a camp body. Would have been cut sooner if not for the injuries in the secondary and the resting of Woodson and Harris.
Packers trade OL Tony Moll to the Baltimore Ravens for Safety / cornerback Derrick Martin
A real WIN for Ted Thompson. Getting a usable player back for a guy that was going to get cut anyway is always a good thing. Martin has been a cornerback and just this preseason made the switch to safety. The Ravens were stacked in the secondary and it became a numbers game for him. Just recently, Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say about Martin:
"The thing about Derrick Martin that’s interesting is, he’s always the same," Harbaugh said. "Derrick Martin comes out and plays well in every single practice. Then, he lines up in a game and plays well in every single game.
"He plays extremely fast. He’s made the transition from corner to safety. So, he can play both. Derrick Martin is a valuable piece to that secondary. He’s a guy that’s in the mix to make our roster, and he’s earned that. It’s going to be interesting to see how it shakes out, but I think Derrick Martin has played his way, pretty potentially, onto this football team.”
In the end it didn't work out for Martin in Baltimore, but his acquisition meant the Packers could cut Anthony Smith. Reportedly the Packers have been eyeing Martin for a while and like him better than Smith. Martin is a special teams gunner and can play cornerback or safety. Overall, he seems to offer more value than Smith.
Placed on Injured Reserve:
Defensive end Justin Harrell
Cornerback Pat Lee
Tight end Evan Moore
Safety Charlie Peprah
No surprises here. Harrell and Lee are annual members of the IR club. Peprah will probably get an injury settlement and be let go.
Green Bay Packers 2009 roster as of Sunday Sep 9th (pending more moves)
Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn.
Halfbacks (3): Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn.
Fullbacks (3): Korey Hall, John Kuhn, Quinn Johnson.
Receivers (5): Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Brett Swain.
Tight ends (3): Donald Lee, Jermichael Finley, Spencer Havner.
Offensive linemen (9): Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz, Josh Sitton, Allen Barbre, Scott Wells, T.J. Lang, Breno Giacomini, Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Defensive linemen (6): Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji, Jarius Wynn, Michael Montgomery.
Linebackers (9): A.J. Hawk, Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett, Aaron Kampman, Clay Matthews, Brandon Chillar, Desmond Bishop, Brad Jones, Jeremy Thompson.
Defensive backs (10): Atari Bigby, Charles Woodson, Al Harris, Nick Collins, Jarrett Bush, Will Blackmon, Brandon Underwood, Aaron Rouse, Tramon Williams, Derrick Martin.
Specialists (3): Mason Crosby, Jeremy Kapinos, Brett Goode.
Some Quick Comments
The Packers will look to carry a QB on the practice squad. Brohm will be taken back if he's not claimed. Could this be the opportunity for a veteran signing (like Jeff Garcia)?
3 Fullbacks: It was essentially an impossible decision to pick one to let go, so the Packers decided to keep them all and only carry 2 QBs and 3 RBs. Considering Kuhn and Hall's special teams contributions and Johnson's potential bright future, I'm fine with keeping all three.
Offensive Line: Giacomini probably doesn't deserve to be there, but with the trade of Tony Moll, the Packers are thin in the tackle department. It has been sugggested by several Packers writers and bloggers that the Packers may look to bring back Mark Tauscher (if healthy) after all.
Defensive Line: I wish the Packers had a better option for that last backup spot than Michael Montgomery, but alas they don't. Vonnie Holliday was just signed by Denver, so that possibilty is over. This could be a position where the Packers may look to claim a late camp cut from another team. Someone who is a more prototypical 3-4 DE than Montgomery.
I'm sure there is still some tweaking to be done, as Ted Thompson is certainly scouring the waiver wire right now looking for ways to improve the roster. The next few days will likely bring a few more changes. What do you think they could be?