Play for Pay: Elliott may have Missed his Opportunity

There isn't much to write home about when it comes to the depth at outside linebacker in Green Bay. So little, that there's actually something — at least in the case of Jayrone Elliott.

A savior in the community, Elliott was rewarded with the 2016 community service award, just one year after former Packers linebacker accepted the same award on the same stage. It also came three years after he won Toledo's community service award for his ongoing efforts. On top of the accolades, Elliott was also nominated for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. If there's anything the Packers would have wanted to see out of Elliott, it's that he makes as much of an impact on the gridiron as he does in neighborhoods across the country.

Elliott, 25, is playing on the fumes of his rookie contract from when he first came to the Packers in 2014 as an undrafted free agent. Ever since, he has yet to produce the way he was initially expected to. However, as an undrafted player, the floors and ceilings as far as expectations go is often a skewed concept. When players like Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Lane Taylor exist in general manager Ted Thompson's history of going after undraftees, one can't necessarily gauge how any particular player's career will end up.

In the case of Elliott, he was utilized as an asset on special teams where he played 210 snaps in 2014, a career and team high 324 in 2015 and 179 just last season. In 2015, he was hindered by a quad injury suffered early in the season for a majority of the campaign, yet, managed to prove useful for special teams coordinator Ron Zook.

Despite a moderately efficient season, the follow-up year saw him playing the fewest amount of defensive snaps of all of the Packers linebackers — with the exceptions of Carl Bradford and Jordan Tripp, were on the active roster for a combined six games last season.

Elliott finished with eight tackles, three of which coming against the Seattle Seahawks in week 14. Similarly, Elliott shined against the Seahawks in the Packers' home opener in 2015 where he was presented with the NBC game ball. His night was capped with an interception and a time-sensitive forced fumble that essentially sealed the win for Green Bay.

His contract is up in March, but unfortunately, it may be too late for Elliott to be considered as one of the priority designations for a new contract. Especially with 10 other free agents the Packers have hitting the market, including tight end Jared Cook, right guard T.J. Lang and running back Eddie Lacy. Fellow outside linebacker Datone Jones will also be seeking a new deal after a successful conversion into what defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to call the "elephant" position. 

Elliott capped off the third year of his $1.5 million dollar contract with uncertainty, especially given his small sample size in the playoffs.

The Packers were without Elliott's services on both special teams and in their linebacker rotation for two playoff games last season, as well as missing one playoff game the season before. All he has to show for a resume in the postseason are three tackles in two combined games against the Cowboys and the Seahawks, both in the 2014 playoffs. 

As mentioned previously, it's nearly impossible to gauge where certain players will fall on the spectrum when they go undrafted — or when general managers like Thompson take a shot in the dark with high hopes —  and it's even more improbable that a player like Elliott will serve as any kind of answer long term. A fact that, unless special teams value is deemed of that much importance — which it is in Green Bay, may prove as the driving force behind whether or not Elliott returns to the Packers in 2017.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (12)

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

February 21, 2017 at 07:24 pm

I love this kid, he may not do anything but he shows he can he just has to go after it.

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marpag1's picture

February 22, 2017 at 04:35 am

Elliott is the Jeff Janis of the defense. They show just enough so that some fans will hope that they will step up and develop into legit starters.

They won't.

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Handsback's picture

February 22, 2017 at 07:23 am

marpag1 I agree with you....We want him to take that next step, but it looks like he's doing his max. And its just not enough to win a starting spot or maybe even a roster spot.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

February 22, 2017 at 09:36 am

He's cheap, he's a quality special teamer, and he's on our thinnest unit.

I see no reason to not bring him back and let him compete.

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egbertsouse's picture

February 22, 2017 at 09:40 am

Just another in a long line of players who showed promise early on but after a few years of being coached by Dum Capers and his incompetent staff, has forgotten how to play football.

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Point-Packer's picture

February 22, 2017 at 11:36 am

Wait wait wait. Elliot had eight tackles on 136 defensive snaps in 2016. That's only 14 less than Datone in roughly a quarter of the snaps at the same position.

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JacFrost's picture

February 22, 2017 at 04:21 pm

This guy can play but datone is the one pick whom mike must play to justify the big bucks datone gets.

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Point-Packer's picture

February 22, 2017 at 04:41 pm

You just kinda hope that's not true. At least this year, Jayrone had health issues.

As I said in a prior comment, an in-depth re-watch of the three playoff games doesn't bode well for Datone. He was largely invisible.

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JacFrost's picture

February 22, 2017 at 04:17 pm

Heres a guy i dont get. In pre season he comes off as a terror. Then the season starts and he bench sits and see limited duty. Why. Not allowed to play to give higher picks who were paying more money to get game time. Said something to mike and was dog house city?
I know he as had some injuries but that aint it.
Same with Janus. Just what the hell is with his playing time.

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Point-Packer's picture

February 22, 2017 at 04:45 pm

Janis can't figure out the offense, hence his lack of playing time. Much better when you just "tell Jeff to run and tackle guy".

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holmesmd's picture

February 22, 2017 at 06:06 pm

Well, racking up sacks in pre-season against 3rd stringers isn't exactly similar to the regular season playing against team's #1's. There is that. I like Elliott but he needs to be more impactful & consistent. The coaches should give him an opportunity to do so or just move on. Poop or get off the pot

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mrtundra's picture

February 22, 2017 at 05:11 pm

Whenever Elliott played he made things happen for the Packers. When he was on the field, he seemingly was always involved in a big play when we needed one. He needs more playing time and, IMO, he deserves more playing time.

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