Last week, the Green Bay Packers filled their two open roster spots with veteran quarterbacks. Signing Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert filled up the 90-man roster as the team ensured that it would have enough quarterbacks to practice this week for OTAs.
Now the team is back down to 89, freeing up a spot on Monday afternoon — the same day as the team’s first OTA practice. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell is the unfortunate individual who has received his pink slip, as the team announced his release around 3 PM Central.
Russell played in three games for the Packers during the 2020 season, suiting up in week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and in both playoff games. Russell did not play on defense, but was used on special teams in all three contests, totaling 32 snaps over those three games. He made one solo tackle on special teams, that coming in the NFC Championship Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A former third-round draft pick in 2016, Russell has been unable to latch on with an NFL team since a three-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2016 through 2018. He played in 20 games over that period with one start, but since then spent time with the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants before arriving in Green Bay on the practice squad around the middle of last season.
With the Packers selecting Eric Stokes in round one of the 2021 NFL Draft and Shemar Jean-Charles in round five, the team has plenty of bodies and talent at the cornerback position for the time being. Eight members of the 90-man roster are listed at that position, and Russell’s pathway to even a special teams roster spot looked extremely narrow.
One final note: to be technically correct, the Packers have 87 players under contract. However, draft picks Eric Stokes and Amari Rodgers have not yet signed their rookie contracts and therefore count towards the 90-man limit.