The Green Bay Packers surprised many on Wednesday by waiving defensive lineman Keke Kingsley. Kingsley, a 2019 fifth-round pick, had started 17 games over the last two seasons with the team and had played the third-most snaps among defensive linemen in Green Bay in the 2021 regular season.
Kingsley was a weekly contributor for the Packers up until Week 16. Prior to then, Kingsley had recorded 30-plus defensive snaps in all but two games that he played in.
Kingsley was first listed as inactive by the Packers against the Cleveland Browns in Week 16, which came as a surprise as Kingsley had practiced fully-healthy with the squad throughout the week. The coaching staff later called Kingsley’s absence a “personal issue.”
Kingsley later was placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list but was activated before the Packers’ regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions in Week 17. Kingsley was ruled out with an illness for that game.
There almost certainly is something happening behind the scenes with this move, as it’s rare for a team to release a defensive starter who had played in that role for nearly four months just to have him ruled inactive for the last month of the season and then released before their first playoff game. Behind Kenny Clark (782 snaps) and Dean Lowry (674), the team has played Tyler Lancaster (319), T.J. Slaton (255), Abdullah Anderson (49) and Jack Heflin (17) in rotational roles on the defensive line.
It’s worth noting that Anderson, currently on the practice squad, was protected this week along with fellow defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh, who hasn’t played a regular-season snap for the Packers this year.
This move could have been made to bring receiver Randall Cobb up from the injured reserve list, as Cobb’s 21-day practice window ends tomorrow, meaning he will officially start to count against the 53-man roster if the team wants him to be available for the playoffs. Earlier today, head coach Matt LaFleur stated he anticipates Cobb to play against the 49ers.