More than a few Green Bay Packer players that have played big minutes, or had seemingly obvious paths to more important roles on the team, didn’t survive the final cut to 53 players. Many of those players cut have ended up on a practice squad, especially with the expansion to 10 players per squad - however, several of those players had a chance to make an impact on gameday. Here are the biggest surprise roster cuts by Ted Thompson this year.
CB Jumal Rolle
This is far and away the biggest surprise cut for fans of the Packers. Each game he seemed to get better and better, and in the 4th game he was all over the field. At the worst he seemed like he was/is on the path of Jarrett Bush - perhaps not the most polished cornerback, but a lot of raw potential and clear value as a special teams player. Rolle did make the practice squad, however, after a few days of uncertainty over the long weekend.
Banjo was an important depth and special teams player last year, and someone that had improved from last year. He performed well in preseason action, and was one of the stars in the 4th game against Kansas City. Cutting him was a calculated risk, as he definitely played well enough to be considered as good or better than players on many other teams that are hurting at safety or need help on special teams. Luckily for Green Bay, he passed through waivers and was signed to the practice squad.
WR Miles White
White spent some time on the active roster this past season, and seemed to be improving, especially late in the preseason. In fact, White led all receivers in the preseason with 7 catches, 69 yards, and a touchdown. Admittedly Green Bay has a deep and talented wide receiver corps, and on another team he probably would have made the final cut - that being said, he did clear waivers and Green Bay was able to stash him once again on the practice squad.
On the flip side, there were several players that made the final roster that would have been a surprise 3 months ago (or 3 days ago, depending on the position). The biggest surprises that made the roster this year are…
Related to the surprise cut of Jumal Rolle, the Packers front office decided to keep Goodson instead. Most fans and writers seemed to agree that Rolle had outplayed Goodson throughout most of training camp, and his trajectory was continuing to rise - however, it was Rolle packing his bags this past weekend. Goodson does have a load of raw athletic ability, but is fairly inexperienced in the cornerback position, as he is a converted basketball player that just started playing cornerback a few years ago. The Green Bay Packers obviously wanted to keep both players, but seven cornerbacks on the squad was just too many, and the team must have thought long and hard about which player they would cut and try to get through waivers, and decided Rolle was the best bet to make it to the practice squad.
The latest in a long string of undrafted rookie free agents to make a splash in Green Bay, Elliott was a camp body early in the spring and slowly but surely improved throughout the summer until he exploded on the national scene in the Packers’ preseason week 2 game against St. Louis. In that game Elliott garnered 3 sacks (including a forced fumble) in 4 consecutive plays against the Rams. His effectiveness against top-tier NFL offensive lineman is still untested, but he obviously has the ability to make a big impact in spot duty against inferior offensive lineman. Whether or not he turns into the next Sam Shields (undrafted free agent who becomes a well-paid cornerstone of the defense) or Vic So’oto (non-Packer fans are going “who?”), remains to be seen.
While cutting a 4th round pick after his first training camp is unusual, it’s not unheard-of, especially with a roster so stacked at several other positions (Wide Receiver and Cornerback, for instance). Bradford has been fairly invisible this offseason, and without the physical size expected of a 3-4 linebacker, you would hope to see some high-motor plays and attitude, a la Mike Daniels (who was undersized as a defensive end coming out of Iowa his rookie year). Bradford has been the opposite, however, and unlike the undrafted rookie Elliott (see above), he has not made any splash plays that I can remember all preseason. Hopefully he can make an impact on special teams - but the fact that the Packers kept Bradford and cut Chris Banjo (who is a proven special teams commodity) is a head-scratcher.
Of course, as we move into the regular season it’s important to remember that the bottom of any NFL roster is always subject to turn-over at any point in the season. With a few injured players looking to return in the first few weeks of the season, someone will have to get bumped off the active roster, and other teams’ cast-offs might find a home in Green Bay. Regardless, this is the team that the Packers will take into Seattle on Thursday night, so it’s time to lace up and get to work!