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James Starks cut: Packers release veteran running back, per report

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Green Bay is parting ways with a veteran runner who will be best-remembered for a magical playoff season as a rookie.

Houston Texans v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

On Monday, NFL teams were allowed to begin making roster moves for the first time since their 2016 seasons concluded. On Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers are reportedly making their first transaction of the offseason.

The report comes from ESPN’s Field Yates and involves a player who spent the last seven years in Green and Gold:

James Starks was involved in a car accident late in the regular season, and suffered a concussion. He never passed the NFL’s concussion protocol before the end of the season and is presumably still having symptoms of the injury. With the team finding a likely running back of the future in Ty Montgomery and Starks struggling when he was able to take the field, this move seemed inevitable, especially given his $3 million salary in 2017.

Even before the concussion, Starks had fought through injuries earlier in the season as well, missing a few games in the middle part of the season with a knee injury and playing in just nine contests overall. All told, he had his worst season as a runner, picking up just 145 yards on the ground on 63 carries for a 2.3 yards-per-carry average. Starks did add 134 yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions.

Starks leaves Green Bay after a seven-year tenure that saw him score a total of 17 touchdowns including playoffs. His best year was in 2013, when he made a formidable one-two punch with rookie Eddie lacy and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Starks’ 2010 postseason was a big reason for the Packers’ drive to Super Bowl XLV, as he picked up 315 rushing yards over the team’s four playoff wins.

This move also opens up some additional salary cap room for the Packers as well. Starks just finished the first year of a two-year, $6 million contract that included a $1.5 million signing bonus. The Packers will have to absorb a $750,000 salary cap hit as a result of the prorated portion of that bonus, but will get an extra $3 million in salary cap space for the 2017 season.

Still, Starks might not be done in Green Bay forever. Yates’ ESPN colleague Adam Schefter later reported that Starks could potentially return to Green Bay, but that he would have to be back with a lower salary.

We wish James the best in his rehab and recovery from the concussion.