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Three free agent roster cuts who could help the Packers in 2018

With the 53-man roster set for now, GM Brian Gutekunst has made it clear that there’s still room for adjustments

Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

League-wide cuts and waiver-wire pickups have commenced with a few surprises for the Green Bay Packers. The 53-man roster, which looks drastically different than it did at the end of last season, initially featured a wide receiver group that was stacked eight deep before announcing Monday morning that rookie WR Jake Kumerow has been placed on injured reserve.

The roster also listed just two running backs in addition to Aaron Jones’ return after his two-game suspension, four outside linebackers, four tight ends, and three quarterbacks. Adding to Kumerow’s placement, the Packers announced Monday they have released CB Herb Waters and signed for 49ers inside LB Korey Toomer leaving one open spot on the active roster, which they later filled by signing RB Darius Jackson from Dallas to the active roster.

While the roster will likely remain the same for the time being, GM Brian Gutekunst has been vocal about change, noting after final cuts that “nothing’s set in stone. It’s still fluid, and it will be all season.” With that, here’s a look at a few free agents whom the Packers could consider in the future.

Frank Zombo

The outside linebacker position is one that the Packers must look to add some depth. Reggie Gilbert had a strong preseason and with a healthy Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, the Packers have a solid group at the position. Healthy is the key word, however. Both Matthews and Perry seem to struggle every year with injuries and the more than anything the Packers need someone who will likely have to pick up the pieces at some point this season.

One of those players could be former Packer and veteran outside linebacker Frank Zombo, who was released after five years in Kansas City. Zombo was signed by the Packers after he went undrafted in 2010 and was a starter in Super Bowl XLV. While in Kansas City, Zombo played in 80 games and started in 27 with 123 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. He’s been relatively healthy during his time in Kansas City and was also a reliable special teams player.

As noted by Rob Demovsky, he could already be one of the Packers’ better edge rushers if they decided to bring him back.

Nate Orchard

Nate Orchard may have warmed hearts on Hard Knocks but it wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster in Cleveland. The former Utah defensive end was selected by the Browns in the second round of the 2015 draft but remained inconsistent throughout his four-year career. He played 34 games and recorded five sacks and 65 tackles during that time.

The upside of Orchard is that he has shown some explosiveness, like in Week 4 of the preseason when he picked off Lions’ QB Matt Cassel and returned it for a 64-yard TD. He’s could be an upgrade from Kyler Fackrell, but the downside is his lack of consistency. At best he could provide a temporary solution to the lack of depth at the position if needed.

Xavier Su’a Filo

The offensive line has been perpetually lacking in backups for years and veteran G Xavier Su’a Filo is a big-bodied player who could potentially step in. Su’a Filo was drafted in the second-round in 2014 by the Texans at No. 33 overall and was the highest drafted offensive lineman out of UCLA since HOF offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in 1996. Su’a Filo started 31 games for the Texans before being signed by the Titans under a one-year contract.

Despite a strong college career, Su’a Filo has struggled in the NFL. However, he’s big and versatile enough to step in if injuries should start to pile up once again.

It’s unclear whether the Packers will make any more moves before they kick off the season against the Bears on Sunday night. However, Gutekunst has made it known that he’ll always look to keep the best players on the field. “It’s a puzzle,” he said, “and as we were going through, we were just trying to keep the best 53 that would be available for this week’s game. Again, it’s a fluid situation that changes day by day.”