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Packers 2016 Quarterback Additions: Why did Joe Callahan have a roster spot?

The Packers’ third-stringer had a nice preseason, but was it really worth it for the team to have him on the 53 when they did?

NFL: Preseason-Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Today, we at Acme Packing Company begin our examination of the Green Bay Packers’ 2016 roster. Each day over the next two weeks, we will break down a different position on the roster with examinations of the players on the 53-man roster in 2016, the contributions of new additions and players who signed new contracts, and players who have contracts expiring this offseason.

The Green Bay Packers made one significant addition at the quarterback position in 2016, and as it turned out, they signed that same player twice in the same season. After a 2016 offseason that saw Scott Tolzien move on to Indianapolis and Brett Hundley take over as Aaron Rodgers’ backup, the team searched for a developmental third-string quarterback to groom and take some snaps with the scout team during the season.

The Packers tried out a couple of players in that role, including former Miami Hurricane Ryan Williams and North Carolina rookie Marquise Williams. However, it was a Division III rookie prospect who stuck around for a while.

Here is our examination of the addition at the quarterback position.

#6 Joe Callahan

Experience: Rookie
College: Wesley (Division III)
How acquired: Signed as undrafted free agent May 6; waived Oct. 10; signed to practice squad Dec. 2; promoted to 53-man roster Dec. 17
2016 statistics: None

Callahan, Mike McCarthy’s darling in training camp, made the 53-man roster out of training camp, blowing up many roster projections at the time (including APC’s). He was a gameday inactive for a month, before being waived with the intent of re-signing him to the practice squad.

Instead, Callahan was claimed by the New Orleans Saints, spending a short tenure (just 8 days) with them before being waived again and claimed by the Browns. He finally landed back with the Packers on the practice squad in early December before getting called up to the 53-man roster late in the season when Rodgers’ hamstring and calf became problems.

Callahan had a handful of impressive throws in the preseason, when he took most of the snaps with Brett Hundley injured and Aaron Rodgers sitting. Although this particular writer feels he is “just a guy,” he developed a vocal following among Packers fans in August, thanks in part to showing toughness and making a few big throws on the run.

The biggest criticism of Callahan is no fault of his own; rather, it is a criticism of the front office. He occupied a spot on the 53-man roster for the first and last month of the season, but did not suit up for a single game. In hindsight, the team’s issues on defense would have made it a better decision to try to pass him through waivers onto the practice squad immediately at final cuts rather than waiting a month. Furthermore, over the final month of the season, his roster spot almost certainly would have been put to better use on a defensive player.

This should not be interpreted to say that Callahan can never become a useful player; perhaps he will be a useful backup after a few offseasons. However, it is hard to imagine that any potential loss to the organization would have outweighed the benefits of adding a player who would have been able to contribute on the side of the football that needed the most help.

Expect Callahan to return once again in 2016 as the Packers’ third quarterback; whether or not that return is on the practice squad or 53-man roster will remain to be seen, however.