On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers and the 31 NFL teams each need to cut down their active rosters to 75 players. Each team must do so before the end of the league’s official day at 4:00 PM Eastern time. The Packers sit with 87 players on the roster at present, leaving them with 12 spots that they need to trim off the roster. This was due to the releases of offensive linemen Matt Rotheram (who received an injury settlement) and Josh James last week and the decision to waive wide receiver Ed Williams on Sunday.
In order to meet Tuesday’s deadline, however, teams can place players on injured reserve or the reserve/PUP list in order to meet the 75-man limit. Those moves would subject players on those lists to the regular-season rules, meaning that a player on PUP would be ineligible for at least the first six games of the season.
The Packers do have a potential candidate for the reserve/PUP list in Corey Linsley, who has spent all of the offseason unable to practice due to multiple hamstring tears. Placing Linsley on reserve/PUP seems likely, and there would be no benefit to the Packers waiting if they are confident in that move.
GM Ted Thompson could also free up roster spots by placing players on injured reserve, but players put on that list before the end of training camp cannot return this season. For that reason, wide receiver Jeff Janis, who is on the shelf for a bit with a broken bone in his hand, cannot go on IR now. There are a few other players who were injured on Friday’s preseason game against the 49ers or who have been out with injuries over the last few weeks. Two players in particular suffered hamstring injuries on Friday and did not return to the contest: safety Chris Banjo and linebacker Jayrone Elliott. The severity of those injuries is not yet known, but if they are deemed to be significant, their timing could cost the Packers key special teams contributors.
However, for now I will assume that the only injury-related roster move that takes place involving a veteran will be Linsley going on PUP, which would leave the Packers with 11 more cuts to make to get to 75.
Here are my guesses as to the players who the Packers will waive by Tuesday. In the meantime, be sure to follow along here with our Roster Cut Tracker to see who actually gets released and how bad my predictions turn out to be.
CBs Randall Jette and Warren Gatewood
Neither of these players has shown the speed nor the nose for the football to compete with a few of their fellow undrafted rookies. Josh Hawkins and Makinton Dorleant have made far more splash plays than these products of UMass and Alcorn State.
DL Demetris Anderson (IR)
Anderson has not practiced in a while and could be an ideal IR or injury settlement candidate. When he has participated, however, he has done little to indicate that he is ready to hold down an NFL roster spot.
ILB Derick Matthews
With Carl Bradford and Joe Thomas in a tight battle for a backup job at inside linebacker (and the team possibly poised to keep both players), Matthews finds himself locked up with Beniquez Brown for a spot on the practice squad. For now, Brown appears to have a slight edge.
S Jermaine Whitehead
Picking a safety to cut was difficult, as each of the Packers’ reserves has had some flashes. Green Bay might keep the entire group of Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans, and Whitehead down to final cuts, especially if Banjo remains sidelined, but we’ve got to find our 11 somewhere and Whitehead has had the fewest splash plays of the three.
WRs Jamel Johnson & Harvey Binford
Following Williams’ release, the Packers now have an eleven-man receiving corps. However, there should be few snaps to go around for the players at the very bottom of the roster due to several players jockeying for positioning on the depth chart and a couple more fighting for practice squad spots. Binford is a speed demon, but has been a no-show in preseason games. Johnson, on the other hand, also appears to be well behind Geronimo Allison and even Herb Waters in the receiver competition. Neither player seems to have a practice squad spot waiting for them, so the Packers can probably let them both go at this point.
RB Brandon Ross
The Packers’ running back battle appears to be a two-man race for the third spot - John Crockett and Brandon Burks are battling hard at this point, while Ross appears to be a distant RB5 behind those two.
OL Jacob Flores (IR)
It seems very likely that Flores ends up on injured reserve, as he has not practiced in a significant amount of time with a knee issue. When he was practicing, he was typically the third-team center. The team could stash him on IR and bring him back next spring to compete for a backup spot.
TE Casey Pierce
Unfortunately, Pierce’s name has barely been mentioned at all in camp. The second-year pro from Kent State has failed to make a dent in the competition for the third-string tight end job.
FB Alstevis Squirewell
If there’s one position that the team can afford to not carry a backup into a final preseason game, it’s fullback. Sorry to cut the best name on the team, but Squirewell is the victim of the numbers game and does not provide enough value yet to keep him around for the final week of the preseason.