To some degree, all NFL players have had a difficult offseason between the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to partake in annual minicamps and workouts. The layoff figures to delay first-to-second year jumps for young players, while affecting valuable on-field repetitions and chemistry on each side of the football.
But beyond the virus, several members of the Green Bay Packers may be negatively affected by none other than the organization’s offseason moves. As football eyes a return to the field this summer in some capacity, these five players face a significant uphill battle to retain their roster spots in 2020.
It is hard enough for a backup quarterback to feel any sense of job security from year to year when Aaron Rodgers is on the roster. Barring injury or blowout, rarely will a player like Boyle get a chance to prove his ability in meaningful game action and almost always will there be competition among journeymen for a single reserve role.
While much has been made of the effect that drafting Jordan Love in round one will have on Rodgers, Boyle is the forgotten man that will suffer the most. Although Love is not officially the heir apparent to Rodgers, he definitely will be expected to take most second-team reps due to the draft capital used to acquire him. Unless there is a major surprise or extenuating circumstance during camp, Boyle will probably be on his way out of Green Bay in 2020.
Health and on-field performance have been inconsistent for Burks since joining the team as a third round draft pick in 2018. With Blake Martinez en route to New York this offseason, the vacancy could have provided Burks with a lift in playing time.
But the short-term investment in Christian Kirksey, a player with experience in Mike Pettine’s defense, ensures that Burks will face an obstacle for increased snaps again in 2020. Couple Kirksey’s coverage ability with the return of Raven Greene and Burks’ anticipated role as an athletic cover ‘backer when initially drafted appears diminished. A fifth-round pick on Kamal Martin, along with the hopeful second-year development of Ty Summers, makes Burks further expendable on the inside.
It was a rocky rookie season for the sixth-round tailback, who struggled mightily to gain the trust of the coaching staff and was bypassed by Tyler Ervin when the latter was picked up at mid-season. With Ervin back on the roster, Williams was going to have stiff competition for a third-string roster spot in 2020 already. But the second-round selection of AJ Dillon and underrated undrafted signing of Patrick Taylor make spots extremely limited at running back. Even though Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are heading into the final years of their rookie contracts, the odds are stacked against Dexter Williams making the final 53-man squad.
It has been a series of unfortunate circumstances for the Packers and Madison since he was drafted in 2018. After two seasons without a regular season snap, time was already ticking on the 25-year old Madison to carve out a reserve role at guard. Then the offseason began.
Green Bay gave Lucas Patrick a two-year extension. Three additional interior offensive line draft selections were then made on day three. A cap-friendly release of Lane Taylor could have helped Madison’s cause, but a restructured final season made Taylor’s spot more secure. There are so many bodies for Madison to compete with at this point that it will be hard for him to solidify a roster position unless he can play a swing tackle role.
To say Jackson’s first two years in Green Bay have been disappointing would be an understatement. When the Packers chose Jackson in round two, they thought they were getting a high-upside cornerback after a breakout season at Iowa to pair with Jaire Alexander for the long term. Instead, Jackson slowly fell behind players like Tony Brown and Chandon Sullivan over the past two years and his depth role is on the line once again heading into the 2020 season after logging zero snaps in six of the team’s games from Weeks 6 to 14.
While Jackson certainly could still earn a third chance, the Packers have added other possibilities to the roster. DaShaun Amos was signed to a reserve contract following a productive season in Canada. Green Bay then signed two intriguing undrafted corners in Stanford Samuels and Marc-Antoine Dequoy. Between those three newcomers, two young returners in Ka’dar Hollman and Kabion Ento, and versatile slot defenders at safety in Will Redmond and incoming seventh-rounder Vernon Scott, Jackson’s spot is certainly up for grabs.