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NFL Roster Cuts: Should Packers consider signing DT Terrance Knighton?

We examine whether the recently-released nose tackle could be a benefit to the Packers in the short term.

NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers are painfully thin on the defensive line. With Letroy Guion and Kenny Clark nursing some mild injuries that kept them out of last Friday’s preseason game and Mike Pennel set to be suspended for the first four games of the season, the Packers are in rough shape.

Mike Daniels is the only player who has taken NFL snaps and who is fully healthy and eligible to play in week one. The rest of the squad consists of a fourth-round rookie (Dean Lowry), a 2015 sixth-round pick who spent last season on the practice squad (Christian Ringo), and a couple of undrafted free agents (Brian Price, Tyler Kuder, Demetris Anderson).

Obviously, an infusion of talent and experience would do this group well, and a candidate to provide both of those things just became available: Terrance Knighton, who was apparently just released by the Patriots:

Knighton started 15 games for Washington last year after two seasons manning the nose tackle position in Denver. This offseason, he signed a one-year, $2.05 million deal with the Patriots, but was given just $250,000 in guaranteed money. That deal implies that the Packers could get him for a relatively cheap amount with little to no guaranteed money.

The question of course would be how Knighton would fit in the Packers’ defense. Knighton is listed on the Patriots’ roster at 6’3” and 355 pounds, and he would likely only be able to pitch in when the Packers use their base defense. However, Green Bay uses three down linemen on fewer than a third of their defensive snaps. Knighton seems to be a poor fit for an interior pass-rusher on a two-man line, as his skill set is more ideal to anchoring the point of attack than collapsing the pocket.

Still, signing Knighton could allow Guion and Clark to stay off the field when the Packers are in their base 3-4 defense, keeping them fresher for pass-rushing situations. In addition, Green Bay can still use players like Julius Peppers and Datone Jones as nickel and dime rushers despite their official designations as outside linebackers. Therefore, the Packers’ rotation in those positions may not need quite as much help as it appears.

If the Packers indeed are concerned about Guion’s injury in particular, making overtures to Knighton would appear to be a good move to help bolster the nose tackle spot. The question now becomes whether Ted Thompson will indeed reach out.