On the day that veterans reported to Green Bay Packers training camp, the team made the decision to release quarterback Blake Bortles, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. Shortly after the news about Bortles broke, The Atheltic’s Joe Buscaglia stated that Jake Dolegala, who had signed on as a tryout player in minicamp, was going to be waived by the team.
Bortles spent some time on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad last season but was poached late in the season to sign on the Los Angeles Rams’ 53-man roster when Jared Goff was injured. Bortles spent the 2019 season with the Rams while the Jacksonville Jaguars were essentially paying his salary after he was a cap casualty who still had guaranteed salary owed to him by Jacksonville.
His release seems to stem from the fact that he is a threat to be poached off of the practice squad, with no real need for the Packers to keep him on their 53-man roster, barring injury, as both Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love are under contract. Bortles was doomsday insurance in case Rodgers didn’t show up to camp and the team needed to have another gameday active quarterback to pair with Love. Now that that’s not the case, it’s better for all sides to move on, rather than Bortles cutting into the reps of whoever the Packers believe their practice squad quarterback will be. Bortles is free to find a better landing spot, somewhere where he’s more likely to make a 53-man roster.
The release of Dolegala tells the story of who the Packers believe that practice squad quarterback is. They’ve added competition to that tier of quarterback this offseason, with Kurt Benkert winning the rookie minicamp battle for a roster spot against Chad Kelly before the squad later signed Dolegala at a tryout opportunity. Now only Benkert continues into the Packers’ training camp.
Benkert previously spent three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after being signed as an undrafted free agent from Virginia. In 2018 and 2020, Benkert was mostly a practice squad player for the team, while he spent 2019 on the team’s injured reserve with a toe injury.
Since Benkert has only been activated for one regular season in his career, he will not count against the Packers’ veteran practice squad spots, of which there are six in 2021. Instead, the league’s practice squad rules will essentially treat the 26-year-old as if he’s a rookie, making him more valuable as a long-term developmental player who has easier access to land on the practice squad again in future seasons.
With veteran quarterbacks playing less and less in each passing preseason, expect to see a lot of Benkert this summer as he and Love will take the bulk of the snaps from under center.