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Packers re-sign Corey Ballentine as special teams focus continues

Another one of Rich Bisaccia’s guys is back after spending half a season in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Every single player that the Green Bay Packers have signed or re-signed since the start of the 2023 NFL league year is a key special teams player. First, the team made its biggest splash so far by re-signing cornerback and All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon. The team then brought in two outside free agents, long snapper Matt Orzech and safety Tarvarius Moore, the latter of whom was also primarily a special teams contributor.

Then over the weekend, reports emerged that the Packers were re-signing safety Rudy Ford, a player who combined with Nixon to be an impressive pair of “flyers” on punt coverage. In making Ford’s return official on Monday, however, the Packers announced yet another player had re-signed: cornerback Corey Ballentine.

Like the rest of these players, Ballentine’s biggest contributions in 2022 were on special teams. He first signed with the Packers in late September, landing on the practice squad after being released by the Arizona Cardinals. Then, late in the year when Nixon and Ford were elevated to more prominent roles on defense over the second half of the season, the Packers promoted Ballentine to the active roster, and he suited up in each of the team’s final eight games of the season.

During those eight games, Ballentine saw just over 100 snaps on special teams, taking the field for roughly half of all special teams snaps. He also recorded a forced fumble in week 10, his first appearance with the team, as he punched the ball out of the control of Dallas Cowboys tight end Peyton Hendershot on a kickoff return. Ballentine’s only significant workload on defense came in the Packers’ week 17 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings, when he played 12 snaps in garbage time.

Ballentine’s contract is likely to be a one-year deal for the league minimum, as he should be competing for a similar role to the one he played last season. Still, he is a decent athlete who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2019 (selected by the New York Giants) and has NFL experience playing cornerback from his first two years in the NFL. He should at least have a chance to carve out a role as the team’s 5th cornerback behind the likes of Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, and Nixon, as the Packers have traditionally kept five or six players at that position on the roster in recent years.

With Ballentine’s signing, just eight members of the 2022 Packers who hit free agency have yet to be signed: linebackers Krys Barnes and Eric Wilson, safeties Adrian Amos and Dallin Leavitt, edge rusher Justin Hollins, wide receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Marcedes Lewis, and kicker Mason Crosby.