Some pretty interesting final day cuts by Ted Thompson. We all know final cuts are a painful process, but some of them, well, make you go hmmmmm...
18 players cut, and among them we see:
Anthony Smith: The former safety from Pittsburgh seemed to have a stranglehold on the backup safety position, especially with Atari Bigby struggling this preseason as he recovers from the injury that plagued his 2008 campaign. Smith seemed to be a playmaker on the field in his time during the preseason games, and was a foregone conclusion he was the glue as the Packers transitioned to the 3-4. Yeah, he was nicked up, but so was Rouse, and he made the team.
This means our safeties for this year (for now) are Nick Collins and Atari Bigby, with only Aaron Rouse and Jarrett Bush backing them up. (Peprah was placed on season-ending injured reserve) Anyone else suddenly worried?
Tony Moll/Derrick Martin: Well, maybe the safety position isn't completely lost. Tony Moll, on the bubble with Breno Guacamole, was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for defensive back Derrick Martin, another fourth year player.
The 5-10, 200-pound Martin has played in 28 games, including three starts, for the Ravens over his first three seasons and was a sixth-round pick by Baltimore in the 2006 draft.
Little yellow flag on Martin: he was cited for marijuana possession last year. However, most of what I've read has him as a natural cornerback who has been playing safety this season, and done so rather impressively. Have to imagine the Packers saw more potential in Martin than in Smith, but I'm not about to bet the farm on it.
As for Moll, I wish him the best of luck. People have been piling on him quite a bit as late, but he's probably not a bad reserve lineman. But, like the Ravens and their secondary, the Packers already have a lot of reserve talent on the line, and Moll was expendable. I never thought Thompson would get any value for him, so it does bring a level of skepticism on my part as to what Martin will actually bring to the team.
Incidentally, this means that Guacamole made the team. For now.
Tyrell Sutton: Without a doubt, this is my most disappointing cut. I've been rooting for this kid since he was signed, and he led the team in rushing this preseason. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this cut isn't who left the team, but who remained behind: the Packers, after having spent so many years with William Henderson as the only fullback on the roster, have kept all three of their fullbacks (for now). This means that John Kuhn, Korey Hall, and fifth-round project pick Quinn Johnson simply have more value as special-teamers than Sutton's scat-back potential in the game.
I think it's a bad move. Just me, though...the coaches and GM see a lot more behind the scenes than I do, and I'll admit I'm basing my judgement for more on rooting for the underdog than the practical, cut-throat world of winning football games.
Don't expect Sutton to last long on the practice squad. He got more than enough visibility in the preseason that many teams will consider adding him to their roster. In a way, if the Packers weren't going to keep Sutton, at least they were good enough to let him audition for a job elsewhere. I wish the little guy the best of luck.
On another note: Gregg Lumpkin was also cut, leaving Grant, oft-injured Brandon Jackson, and comeback story DeShawn Wynn as our stable of three running backs.
Brian Brohm: Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Repeatedly. Obviously, the Packers will be scouting the waiver wire looking for a third quarterback, but it is clear that Thompson simply didn't believe that Brohm was going to develop into a solid NFL quarterback, and the injury to Flynn made it all that more clear that he was two injuries away from having to be one.
I took some shots for suggesting that Brohm may not be ready, and the Packers might be wise to look elsewhere. "He'll be just fine," I was told, "He will develop on the bench and become a good backup." Not here, I guess.
While his stats on Thursday looked good, it was a scaled-back offense with safe, quick throws (mostly slants, as I've noted before). Both Rodgers and Flynn are mobile quarterbacks and Brohm changes that whole dynamic. I wish him the best of luck, and hope the Packers find a good one.
I was rooting for Josh Johnson of the Bucs to be waived, another mobile quarterback who would likely be thrilled to move up to 3rd on the depth chart from 4th, but it appears (for now) the Bucs are keeping four QBs until they can get a deal for one of them.
Ruvell Martin: Another slight surprise, but fifth wide receivers are probably pretty interchangeable. Martin was Rodgers' homeboy for quite some time, and I wish him the best of luck. I really thought they'd keep him on as a veteran presence with good rapport with the quarterback, but perhaps that fumbled punt against the Titans was a tipping point that made Thompson want to see what he has in Brett Swain, who made the team.
A little confusing as, while Swain has been doing well on special teams, Martin has been rather dependable in his role over the years. I'm certainly on board with how much special teams need to improve, and I'm glad to see the Packers addressing it by keeping more special teams studs on the roster, but hopefully its not at such a high price that we lose our depth of players who can actually produce on offense and defense.
Jamon Meredith: I'm not completely surprised by this cut. Ted Thompson has had a tendancy to keep every single one of his draft picks they year they were drafted, but he's developed his roster now and it is unlikely his can keep them all anymore...just not enough room.
The Packers might be able to stash him on the practice squad, as he was viewed as a project player and fell in the draft.
The bad part of this cut is that Meredith was the other player we got in return for the Clay Matthews deal...the fifth rounder that, for some folks, made that trade "even-steven". I didn't think so then, and I don't think so now...and the fact is now that the fifth rounder didn't even make the team.
Other players included in the final cutdown: wide receiver Jake Allen, cornerback Trevor Ford, guard/tackle Andrew Hartline, wide receiver Kole Heckendorf, linebacker Danny Lansanah, defensive end Alfred Malone, nose tackle Dean Muhtadi, linebacker Cyril Obiozor, cornerback Joe Porter, tackle Dane Randolph, defensive end Ronald Talley and nose tackle Anthony Toribio.
Defensive end Justin Harrell (back), cornerback Pat Lee (knee), tight end Evan Moore (finger) and safety Charlie Peprah (knee) were placed on injured reserve. Like Peprah, Moore likely will be waived with an injury settlement.
While the departures make for some interesting stories, the players who were kept have just as many intriguing angles:
Spencer Havner: The two-way player had enough versatility to make the team. It allowed the Packers, who might have considered keeping ten linebackers, to stash promising LB Brad Jones on the bench while keeping only two tight ends. No, he's not Deion Sanders, but he's proven to be adequate at both positions, and when you have the talent you have in front of him at both positions, he's a luxury you can afford to keep.
Scott Wells: The former starting center will start the season on the bench. No players has been rumored in trade talks longer and more fervently than Wells, even long before training camp started. Wells had a strong preseason, but was still benched in favor of Jason Spitz.
As I commented earlier today over at CheeseheadTV, Wells does have value. He will have more value as we get close to the trade deadline and teams aren’t fretting about their final cuts and protecting their prospects. When a center gets injured anywhere in the NFL in Week 3, Scott Wells will be the first name brought up by their (and our) media. Right now, you stash him on the roster and feature him a couple times in early games. If a playoff-caliber-team loses their center and has few options behind him, I would be willing to bet you would see an early-second-day pick offered in exchange for Wells and a late pick.
Is it wise? No. But is it good business practice to let a guy you really don’t want fester on the bench when market value comes knocking?
Jarius Wynn: A guest on last week's Cheesehead Nation Blogcast, Wynn makes the team and forces the equipment manager to finally sew first initials on both his and DeShawn's jerseys.
All in all, you have to expect the unexpected on final cutdown day, and I am very happy that, unlike nearly everyone else in the media and Packer Blogosphere, I did not attempt to pick the final 53-man roster (and would have incredible respect for anyone who did pick it exactly).
And, the key words to remember is "for now", as this can and will change before our first game against the Chicago Bears.