The surprise cutdown weekend transaction is a staple of NFL training camps. This year, the Green Bay Packers likely don’t have anything in the works rivaling the release of Josh Sitton in 2016, but surprises are still possible.
Here are the names we’re watching for a possible trip to the waiver wire.
Paul Noonan: Oren Burks
I think I always answer Oren Burks to this question, and sooner or later I’ll be right. Burks has been mentioned as a BSOHL (Best Shape of his Life) guy this camp, which always raises red flags for me. It doesn’t really matter if Burks is in the best shape of his life because the problems with Burks are much more in his head. He is, by all accounts, an extremely smart person, but he’s often slow to react, takes poor angles, and lacks aggressiveness. He may be a classic overthinker at a position that requires a read-react-attack mentality.
Also, about that position. Burks plays one of the least valuable positions on defense, and Christian Kirksey and Ty Summers have had impressive camps at the position. The Packers also flip safeties like Raven Greene into this spot with high frequency, and given all of these facts, their depth at ILB is fine without Burks. He’s a free agent after 2021 with barely any guaranteed money.
Jon Meerdink: Montravius Adams
Same song, different verse as above. Montravius Adams has always been a high-upside, low-performance player, and he’s been hurt as often as not, to boot. After being one of Mike Pettine’s most talked about players last summer, Adams was given most of the fall off. He got some solid playing time early, but cracked 20 snaps in a game just once after Week 7.
The only thing that’d make it a little bit of a surprise for the Packers to cut Adams is their depth on the defensive line. In addition to questions about quality, the Packers just simply don’t have many defensive linemen on the roster right now. Cutting Adams would leave them even thinner, even with Pettine’s tendency toward lighter packages.
Still, Adams hasn’t been anything to write home about so far. The Packers could do just as well with any waiver wire castoffs who become available during cutdown weekend, and I hope that’s the direction they choose to go.
Rcon14: Jamaal Williams
Is this even a surprise at this point? The Packers have Aaron Jones and just drafted AJ Dillon. They also will be keeping Tyler Ervin, though he may be more of a gadgety wide receiver than a runningback at this point. Williams is stout in pass pro and almost never drops the ball, but he’s just not explosive in any way. He’s also a free agent after the season, and Green Bay may look to save a little bit of money with the cap crunch incoming.
Tex Western: Alex Light
With this offseason giving young players fewer opportunities than ever to impress the coaches and scouting staff, I suspect that there will be few major surprises this summer. Practice squads are bigger and teams will probably be less likely to try to poach players at final cuts and off practice squads due to the multi-day delays of bringing players into the facility and passing them through initial COVID testing.
Thus, I don’t see any true shockers this year, but one player I do think is squarely on the chopping block is Light. The third-year pro did receive some substantial playing time last year, serving as the team’s primary backup tackle and suiting up for 151 snaps in relief. However, he was relegated to the second backup once the team added Jared Veldheer late in the season, a decision that paid dividends when Veldheer filled in tremendously for Bryan Bulaga in week 17 and the Divisional Playoffs.
Now the Packers have added versatility on the line. With Lane Taylor making a strong case to start at right guard and Rick Wagner’s injury lingering, Billy Turner seems in line for the right tackle spot (though Turner might have been my pick if not for a contract that would be difficult to release next week). Add in a rookie draft pick in Jon Runyan, Jr. who can probably play the same positions as Light plus an amazingly athletic tackle in Yosh Nijman (who hopefully will come off the PUP list soon) and it’s clear that Light will need a strong finish to camp to hold on to a roster spot. Given his less than impressive play when he saw the field a year ago and few positive mentions of him in camp over the past two weeks, I’m not counting on it.