Packers Are in Good Hands with Young Defensive Line

The Packers made the right call on Mike Daniels and their young defensive talent is the reason why. 

When the Green Bay Packers released Mike Daniels last week, it sent shock waves.

It wasn't necessarily shocking that the Packers would choose to release an aging player, with injury problems and decling production. It was striking to see one of the core leaders of the organization let go.

For years, Daniels has been the heartbeat of the defense. He and Clay Matthews could both make that claim and now both are playing elsewhere next season.

But maybe that's a good thing. While I love Mike Daniels, he took a step back last season and hasn't been the same guy. He still has the fire and in Detroit, he will have a great season. 

Yet, the Packers won't regret releasing him because of the stable of young talent they have along the defensive line. It would have been great to have Daniels back this season, rushing at an elite level inside. 

But is that really what Green Bay was going to get? Especially if he was upset about Dean Lowry getting a deal, it could have caused distruption. Beyond that, the snaps given to an aging, overpaid player would have held back guys like Lowry, Montravius Adams and Tyler Lancaster, who have all shown flashes of being very good.

Lowry has 19 career starts, seven career sacks and 13 tackles for loss. With more opportunities, he should be more productive and he certainly has shown he can hold his own as a five-technique.

We all know what Kenny Clark can do. Not only is he the best defensive lineman on the team -- he's the best defender period. Adams could also be a really good player next to him and after playing in 16 games a year ago and notching 1.5 sacks, as well as 20 total tackles, he looks ready for a starting role.

It's hard to know exactly when to move on from certain players and when it's time to give young players their opportunity. With the defensive line, Green Bay is betting that the time is now. 

Clark is one of the best interior pass rushers in the league and one of the best run stuffers. And putting three guys like Lowry, Adams and Lancaster around him, as well as 2019 draft pick, Kingsley Keke, gives the Packers a lot of growth potential. 

Lowry, Adams and Lancaster have all shown they can be productive in the NFL, but now it's time to show they can do it on a more consistent basis. 

All the indications are that they can and that as much as anything is probably why the Packers pulled the trigger on Daniels. 

It's time to find out if this young defensive line is really as good as Green Bay thinks it is and when the 2019 season starts, we will. 

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Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Comments (59)

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nathanj's picture

July 31, 2019 at 11:31 am

Looking back, they made the right call on when they pulled the plug on numerous guys, Jennings, Clinton-Dix, Sitton & Lang. I imagine Daniels probably will miss numerous games this season.

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zoellner25's picture

July 31, 2019 at 01:03 pm

And as painful as it was at the time, Jordy too.

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sbransbottom's picture

August 01, 2019 at 02:52 pm

The Pack has been pretty good at getting contract extensions in at the right time too. For example, Adam's extension (we all know about M. Thomas now). Although there was that one extension that ended up awful. What was his name? Perry? smh….The majority of the time though, they have made the tough decisions when necessary and the extensions timely enough to keep cap space.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 31, 2019 at 11:55 am

We shall see. But I believe they are right very right.They have a plan, not entirely sure they shouldn't have waited longer, but I applaud their cutting to the chase,rather then letting this drag out and be a needless distraction.

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Turophile's picture

July 31, 2019 at 12:21 pm

It would have been a more comfortable decision (for fans) if he had played out the final year of his contract in Green Bay, but the management thought otherwise.

Obviously the Packers HC/GM decided to allocate the money elsewhere. D.Lowry has just signed a three year contract at $6.775m pa. Kenny Clark's contract will come pretty soon (and that is going to be BIG).

With Lancaster and Adams looking like keepers and the addition of K.Keke this year (who has turned some heads), coupled with hybrid player additions Z.Smith and R.Gary, the Packers obviously feel they can afford to let Daniels go. That statement would not have been true in 2018.

All the potential is there for 2019, and there are some signs that before long we can say (Jesus style) "We beheld it, and we saw that it was good".

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Bearmeat's picture

July 31, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Great comment.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:55 pm

Still think Lowry got too much money. Now Clark has to get done, and if you like Adams, him too. and they want to keep Martinez at big bucks?

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 31, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Matthews 1st half of his Packers years were awesome but he began to fizzle. Whether that was due to steroids early and then the rumor getting to stop or his ability of pass rush simply became predictable and easier to hold off. He had a slight rejuvenation by way of ILB play but not enough to retain him.

Perry defenders still believe his edge set was so incredible he was worth the money he got and his more often garbage time sacks led to their defense of him. No need to say more because there isn't anything to say about him that's good or to be PC...enough to warrant more words.

Daniels is a ditto for Matthews as to the early years but injury and the need to move forward on defense was a higher need than the retaining of Daniels for fans sake and keeping him for his last season would be more a hindrance than help which more likely will be seen in his one year stint in Detroit.

Instead of the usual one step forward and two steps back seen in GB on defense, we are now seeing a twp step forward and a one step back, which will be from injury, but we'll have the depth to keep it one step forward and that's what counts. I believe this defense is in the best shape it's been in regard to handling injuries and that makes releasing and letting the above mentioned go away was the smartest moves this team made to get going forward.

Aug 8...let's see the new play and move on from the past that has had the team and fans believing in false idols in the last half of career for two and from day one with the other.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

July 31, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Great thoughts, yet I can't help but recall letting casey go meant Randall and Rollins could develop

that sure worked well

or when Peppers was let go to give snaps to some 'real' fighters who were stuck on the bench

how soon they forget and how quick to suck up when nobody is looking for suck ups

this year is the point, nobody need a new contract on the DL this year. Daniels will out perform everyone on our DL outside Clark and probably double up on stats over the next best

if the money is used well then this might be ok
if the money is rolled over to put far less players on the field it was outright stupid

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Coldworld's picture

July 31, 2019 at 02:43 pm

Casey was a prior administration and not old. Not comparable. Right or wrong, Peppers being let go did not make a difference really.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

August 01, 2019 at 11:19 am

the point was rebutting that he was let go let others develop and that releasing actual players for wings/prayers is a really bad idea

It was a bad idea with jenkins and continues to today

and as for the examples I previously listed look for the LCD before deciding

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Old School's picture

August 01, 2019 at 11:34 am

I would remind you that the first year without Jenkins we went 15-1.

Here is one of the downsides of free agency: You sometimes lose good players because of salary cap considerations. The Packers thought they could get a good DL and they couldn't and it hurt the team.

Do I think it would have made a difference in 2011? 2012? No, I really don't.

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:33 pm

The poster from Illinois needs to fast forward to the year 2019. --- Everything he brings is from the TT/MM era.... Gute/MLF are the new sheriffs in town...... Thus the optimism.

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:39 pm

We can only hope that Gute/MLF will make the playoffs 8 straight times and win a Super Bowl. That would be awesome.

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:43 pm

Watching tape of the good 'ol years again?... FF stands for fast forward.... Try it--- you'll feel young again (at least for awhile)..... Good luck.

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:55 pm

Not recently. And I do feel young. I work out about 4 hours a day now and it really keeps me feeling good.

I think the top 3 GMs in Packer history are Lambeau, Wolf, and Thompson, in that order. I think the top 3 coaches in Packer history would be Lombardi, McCarthy and Holmegren.

So yeah, I do think the Thompson/McCarthy era was a pretty good stretch in Packer history, considering we won a Super Bowl, had a 15-1 season, and made the playoffs 8 straight years. This really seems to bother you, and I can't understand why.

I would LOVE it if Gute/MLF approach that record of success, but I think the odds are against it.

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 06:16 pm

Only 4 hours... then what?.... nap time?

Here's your misconception about the TT/MM era. --- All Gute/MLF have to do is win one SB & they match your heroes..... AR carried both TT/MM since 2008.... The facts are obvious.... --- TT/MM would have never lasted in GB as the Packer hierarchy w/out AR.

Because of Gute, GB has a roster with more talent & depth than at anytime in the TT era..... MLF & the new coaching staff have already instilled the winning attitude & innovative approaches that MM couldn't even dream of... remember MM's complacency issues?

Here's another challenge for ya, OS..... Come over to the light & accept the "New Pack!!" ... It's going to be a lot of fun starting with "Da Bear Beatdown" on 9/5/19......... Booyah!!

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:05 pm

I think they’ll have a good team, but I think predicting a victory over the Bears is foolish.

You make this assertion that ARod carried TT and M3. (After they drafted and developed him, of course). Never once have you presented any facts or evidence in support of this. And I think it’s insulting to all the real good players who helped us win games to say they were mistakes that Rodgers carried.

You can’t seem to give credit when it’s due. That’s actually a neuropathology....would you like to know more?

You think we’ll win 10,11, or 12 games.
I think we’ll win less than 8.

How about a bet: I leave permanently if you’re right, and you leave permanently if I’m right. Deal?

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Demon's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:03 pm

McCarthy over Holmgren? You make a moronic drug fueled statement like that then wonder why you get criticized.

I dont remember Holmgren losing his team. I dknt remember Holmgren holding onto asst coaches solely because they bought him a pizza the night before. Or having his team ill prepared, the list goes on and on. Holmgrens teams were well coached and well disciplined. Can you say the same for MM's teams? NOT A CHANCE.

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Who won more games with a better win percentage? Who won more playoff games? Who coached the franchise best 15-1 season? Who got us into the playoffs.

Plus, M3 had the bigger handicap with TT at GM instead of Ron Wolf, right?

I’m sure there are many things that Demon/Samson has forgotten.

And it doesn’t bother me when you criticize my idea, but the personal stuff is just not really an enhancement for a discussion board.

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Samson's picture

August 01, 2019 at 10:23 am

Hall monitor also?
You responded to my post, I was responding to the poster from Illinois.
If you swing first, look for a response..... It's 2019, not 1965 anymore.

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Old School's picture

August 01, 2019 at 11:36 am

Demon Samson......….I'll contest any point you make that I think is in error. I won't make it personal, even though I think you're an idiot.

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Demon's picture

July 31, 2019 at 09:33 pm

.

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Samson's picture

August 01, 2019 at 10:17 am

Demon
Remember one thing... some posters only take a contrary point of view & support that view with 'selective stats' only to get noticed. -- If they posted a more normal POV, they would go unnoticed by the masses. --- FYI .... this is a malady many older people suffer from, sadly....along with "living in the past".

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Old School's picture

August 01, 2019 at 10:50 am

Dude, you're talking to yourself and most of us have figured that out.

I take a point of view. I support my argument. A "Normal" point of view??? You come with NOTHING. No facts, no reason, nothing to support the blither that comes out of your mouth.

Try it. Write a post that says "I think...…" and then support it with some facts. You might like it.

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sbransbottom's picture

August 01, 2019 at 03:10 pm

Samson I was ALMOST on your side but then you started with the immature rhetoric and trying to pick at "old age". You can tell your young, whether by age or just mental maturity. This isn't high school. Discussions and disagreements can happen without getting butthurt. Yes MM/TT blew it at the end but they had an amazing run. Also, don't forget some of TTs last draft picks who are playing roles in this new team. I am definitely excited for the future but I was ALWAYS excited for the packers to play. As for OS, less than 8 wins? Don't let these other guys take your love and optimism away from who you know the Packers to be.

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murf7777's picture

July 31, 2019 at 04:29 pm

Sometimes you need to go back to understand or use as a point of reference for the present. IE: TT let go of Jennings, Sitton and Lang at similar times of their careers and age as Gutey has done with Daniels. TT did many things right, it’s such a shame some on here only seek out his mistakes to throw him under the bus.

Gutey is different no doubt about it, but in some ways he’s the same as in cutting Daniels. Another thing to note is I believe the reasons why now is because they don’t utilize many stout DL in their scheme and wanting to get taller more athletic in that position. In addition, Theses type of moves are necessary when you spend BIG in FA. There’s only soo many $$ to go around.

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Lare's picture

July 31, 2019 at 02:06 pm

Daniels may have a good year in Detroit but he probably wouldn't have had a good year in Green Bay. He just didn't fit what the Packers are now doing on defense.

Everyone just needs to move on.

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Oppy's picture

July 31, 2019 at 05:57 pm

How is consistently drawing double teams at the LOS ( and sometimes even a double + a chipping back) , disrupting plays, and getting into the backfield not fit what the Packers are now doing on defense?

He's a DT. All schemes can use DTs that draw attention and create movement.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 31, 2019 at 06:30 pm

I agree. The decision had to be they felt that good about the younger guys on the team and they wanted to save the money. That's the only way it makes sense. Daniels is a very good player still.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:51 pm

They wanted the Cap space.

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Guam's picture

July 31, 2019 at 02:47 pm

I understand the financial side of the transaction, but I guess I am still having some Daniels withdrawal issues. I view Adams and Lancaster as having flashed potential but are still unproven players. Kingsley is a rookie and low round pick and Brown is an unknown. If at least two of these guys don't make a jump, the Packers are going to be awfully thin on the DL. Daniels was an expensive security blanket, but a security blanket nonetheless.

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Coldworld's picture

July 31, 2019 at 02:48 pm

Lancaster is a DT That frees up Clark if anything. The real replacements are Smith, Adams, Lowry and maybe Brown/Keke/Loony. There is potential there to find it hard to get him snaps if Adams has indeed come on, certainly if Lowry or Keke do. Perhaps that’s the way to look at this?

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:30 pm

You're correct.... Daniels could have easily become just a role player in season 2019..... one that would have cost the Pack a boatload of money. .. Gute is doing his job.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

August 01, 2019 at 11:15 am

No, his job is to win super bowls, not roll over cap space

NE has proven beyond any doubt one has nothing to do with the other, as did the droolmiester from the other end of the spectrum

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Guam's picture

August 01, 2019 at 08:14 am

I agree that Smith and Gary could be the answers if the young guys don't make the jump, but then who is playing OLB? I will be much happier if the Smiths and Gary are OLB's and we don't have to rotate them into the DL. A couple of the young guys (Adams and Lancaster most likely) are going to have to step up and become full time players. I certainly hope they do, but that is not a given.

Ice Bowl (below) said it best - you never worried about Daniels play. With him gone, we now have more worries on the DL.

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sbransbottom's picture

August 01, 2019 at 03:15 pm

Z. Smith is going to be playing inside for us on many different occasions, just as he did in Baltimore. That's the difference between him and Preston. Preston is better at dropping in to coverage and Z is better and putting his hands on the ground and rushing from inside (although I assume they will both be mixing it up with Pettines designs)

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IceBowl's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:34 pm

Guam ,

I agree. Did anyone ever worry about Daniels play??

Never a question.

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:46 pm

I agree with Guam's view that every snap that Lancaster takes let's Clark play somewhere else or rest.

This morning on the NFL Network they were talking about this very thing....that it looks like we've got a bunch of guys to play in the Front 6 (assuming we're usually in nickel).

Clark. Gary. Lowry. Lancaster. Adams. Martinez. Smith. Smith. Fackrell. Burks. That's 10 of our gameday 12 right there. And I think it could be a pretty good group, actually. We've got room for two more on the 53, and maybe one or two on the PS.

Fadol Brown? Keke? Who else?

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:48 pm

It's great to see your light bulb flash on occasion. --- Welcome to the light!!.... Booyah!!

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 03:59 pm

Is this comment about football, the Packers, or the article? Or is it just you wanting to talk shit about me?

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 06:19 pm

Sorry... I keep forgetting your sensitive side..... Booyah!!

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:14 pm

If you forget easily, and you’re not a particularly discerning reader in the first place, perhaps it’s better if you don’t get personal.

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Guam's picture

August 01, 2019 at 08:08 am

I don't always agree with your viewpoint Old School, but you make your case with facts and logic. I could do without all the personal crap some other commenters seem to think is appropriate. Thank you for being part of this blog Old School and please stay with us.

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wildbill's picture

July 31, 2019 at 04:10 pm

Hope Daniels has a great year, except when he plays us. Can’t help but have a feeling that he won’t suit up for both games against us. Availability is very important and at his pay level I can see the move making sense. Over 30 with a foot injury is a bad combination for someone of his size

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Lphill's picture

July 31, 2019 at 04:15 pm

The only defensive players that hurt losing were Cullen Jenkins and Charles Woodson.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:55 pm

I believe Peppers had a pretty good year for the Black Cats after the low ball move/no offer from Packertown,LLC.

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Pierre's picture

July 31, 2019 at 04:57 pm

I gotta feeling this Packer DL and whole defense is going to keep the team close in a lot of games. It’s going to be up to Rodgers to get this offense scoring enough to win 10-12 games and make the playoffs. Yes, this defense is going to be one exciting unit to watch this coming season.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 07:56 pm

Can they stop the run with those ILBs? That will determine if they get the three and outs.

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Oppy's picture

July 31, 2019 at 05:50 pm

"For years, Daniels has been the heartbeat of the defense. He and Clay Matthews could both make that claim"

umm.... nope.

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Old School's picture

July 31, 2019 at 05:59 pm

The heartbeat of a NOT VERY GOOD defense.

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Samson's picture

July 31, 2019 at 06:21 pm

I completely agree old timer.

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GatorJason's picture

July 31, 2019 at 09:10 pm

You state . . ."Especially if he (Daniels) was upset about Dean Lowry getting a deal, it could have caused disruption. Beyond that, the snaps given to an aging, overpaid player would have held back guys like Lowry, Montravius Adams and Tyler Lancaster, who have all shown flashes of being very good."

I have to throw the BS flag here. There was zero indication Mike was upset about the Lowry deal. Overpaid? Daniels was regarded as a top 100 player by his peers in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 before being injured, he got high performance ratings including one of the highest ratings for a pass rusher in the fourth quarter among all NFL defensive linemen. That's why the Lions are paying him $8M/yr, almost all of it guaranteed.

It's okay to say the Packers are betting on young, unproven talent to fill his shoes and they cut him to save money and give others more snaps but do not automatically characterize him as over-the-hill and overpaid just because he was cut loose. When healthy, Daniels was still clearly better than any of the DL currently trying to fill his shoes. Hopefully Adams or one of the others can step up and play at a high enough level where the Packers can say the gamble paid off just like it did in 2016 when Josh Sitton was cut and was more than adequately replaced by Lane Taylor.

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sbransbottom's picture

August 01, 2019 at 03:18 pm

I agree 100%. Absolutely no need to throw in an out of nowhere opinion just to stir the drama pot.

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OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

August 01, 2019 at 05:30 am

My biggest issue is we couldn't get anything for him. I get it, coming off an injury with 1 year left on his deal for ~10m but he's a pro bowl player and a case of spotted cow would have been enough if it meant he wasn't playing in the NFC North this year.

Instead he's going to line up with Trey Flowers and Snacks Harrison, making a formidable DLine which is annoying as hell

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dobber's picture

August 01, 2019 at 08:45 am

They have nothing besides Davis (MLB) and Slay (CB) behind that DL, though. Teams with good OL will pick them apart.

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PatrickGB's picture

August 01, 2019 at 08:06 am

That trade talk was possibly because we did not want to see him in the NFC north. Heck, a seventh rounder would have been better than nothing. Oh well, it was time to save the money and move on anyway.

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Nononsense's picture

August 01, 2019 at 09:01 am

It sucks they cut Daniel's and Im not going to sugarcoat it. Seeing him sign with Detroit just adds insult to injury. I'm not so much worried about who fills his shoes because theres quite a few candidates to effectively replace him. I just grieve the loss of one of my favorite players.

Truth is there are only so many roster spots and only so much cap space. It would be a shame to keep Daniels, who wont be re-signed next year over a younger guy who can contribute for the next few years at a much cheaper price.

Theres another guy who kind of mirrors the Daniels money/roster spot dilemma on this team. His name is Geronimo Allison. Keeping him might just end up being a surplus to requirements. Right now I see no fewer than 8 quality WRs on this team including Allison. With him making 2 million and most likely in the final year of his Packer career keeping him over a guy like Jmon or even Kumerow at this point doesnt make much sense to me. Especially if Sheppard and Davis keep impressing.

I wouldn't be in a hurry to get rid of him but I would start the feeling out process for a possible trade of him. Cant help but think the Giants could use a guy like that in their WR room about now. I would feature him in the preseason with an eye towards trading him before final cutdowns.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 01, 2019 at 05:19 pm

Gute had no real choice here. As you say, the cap is now forcing these roster decisions on him. I think both DB and OL position groups the veterans are as close to safe as one can be in pro football. And the only reason for that is both groups got wiped out by injuries for two years in a row, and became total rebuild projects. Other than that, every veteran (outside of Rodgers) is waiting for knock on their door on cut down day. All one has to do to understand the new reality is watch the presser with the new special teams coach. Packers are publicly announcing that Mason Crosby is gone. Yeah, their cloaking it in the usual football speak with the usual caveats, but this a GM decision over Crosby salary. Not Gute's fault here. The Rodgers signing took what flexibility he had on the cap, and flushed down the old crapper. And it's forcing the front office to make more risky decisions short term. Such is life for a rebuilding football team.

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