The NFL implemented a staged roster cut deadline for the 2021 season, and Tuesday marks the first cut-down of the summer for teams around the league. The Green Bay Packers entered Tuesday with 88 players on their active roster, meaning they needed to eliminate three players from active status before 4:00 PM Eastern to reach the mandated 85-man limit at that time.
Instead of making three cuts, however, the team has elected to release one player and place two on injured reserve, ending their 2021 seasons before they began.
Offensive lineman Zack Johnson is the one player headed to the waiver wire today, as the team announced his release. The former North Dakota State Bison was a practice squad player throughout the 2020 season, but did not see any game action in the Packers’ preseason opener on Saturday.
To reach 85, the Packers have designated tight end Isaac Nauta and wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins on the reserve/injured list. Both players were injured in Saturday’s game, with Nauta in the starting lineup and each of them lining up for just nine snaps on offense. Neither player caught a pass in the game.
Nauta came to Green Bay from Detroit, signing on the Packers’ practice squad last December after the Lions released him a few days earlier. He played in 13 games over two seasons for the Lions, catching three passes for 16 yards. Thompkins has been a training camp body with different teams in each of the past three years, signing first with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 and then the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020 before landing with Green Bay in May.
These moves come in addition to a pair of cuts on Monday, when the team released punter Ryan Winslow and offensive lineman Jon Dietzen.
However, Green Bay is also adding a player to the roster, which will necessitate one more roster move to get back down to 85. The team is reportedly bringing back quarterback Jake Dolegala, according to his agent via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Dolegala tried out with the team during minicamp and earned a contract, but was released at the start of training camp when Aaron Rodgers reported for work. The New England Patriots, who employed him during the 2020 season, claimed him off waivers, but released him a week ago.
Although the Packers’ other moves were announced officially on Tuesday afternoon, Dolegala’s addition will likely become official on Wednesday, which would give the Packers some time to decide which additional player to release or place on injured reserve to get back to the 85 number.
It is likely that Dolegala is returning to Green Bay to help out with practice reps amid questions over Jordan Love’s availability. Love injured his shoulder on a sack in Saturday’s preseason game and his practice status for this week is uncertain.
Update: The corresponding roster move to allow for Dolegala’s signing is the release of cornerback Stanford Samuel, according to Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber. With the swap of Josh Jackson for Isaac Yiadom from earlier today, this leaves the Packers with an outside cornerback room of Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Kabion Ento, Ka’dar Hollman, and Yiadom with Chandon Sullivan and Shemar Jean-Charles primarily playing in the slot.