It's early September and for 22 soon-to-be-former Packers, time is running out.
It's currently Noon EST on Sept. 4, 2009. This means the Packers have 29 hours to trim their roster down from it's hefty total of 75 players into a lean, mean, 53.
Now, not all of the 22 cuts will be saying goodbye to the Packers entirely. The practice squad can hold up to eight members and at this time of year it is almost exclusively made up of cut players off the summer roster.
Being on the practice squad also leaves a player open to be signed by another team, and the eight man roster can change quickly.
This is part one of a two part series in which I will make my own 22 cuts to the Green Bay roster. This article is, as the title states, pure conjecture. I'm sure some of my guesses will turn out to be true and others woefully inadequate.
Let's get this started.
What position will have the biggest loss in personnel?
I'm a big fan of the secondary. Big hitters lurk behind the linebackers, which means excitement, and LeRoy Butler can come over to hang out at my house any day of the week. Someone who smiles like that is a great person, they just have to be.
That being said, it's time to make some hard decisions as the current general manager of my living room couch (burn!).
The Green Bay secondary has way too many people in it. Right now there are nine cornerbacks and six safeties. Veteran Jarrett Bush is the only member currently listed as a corner/safety so I included him in both categories.
This still adds up to a secondary with 14 members. Fourteen is far too many; let's make it nine.
Trevor Ford, CB, Troy: Signed as a rookie free agent this offseason. Sorry Trevor, it's way too crowded in here.
Brandon Underwood, CB, Cincinnati: I had high hopes for Brandon Underwood, and still do. I just think the numbers are against him. Some veterans will also be feeling the blade and it's just not his year. Definite scout team potential.
Joe Porter, CB, Rutgers: Another rookie free agent, this time from 2007. Porter is a little small at 5'10", but has shown some definite signs for the Packers. I may be wrong but I believe he's already spent time on the Packers practice squad. This will be a difficult cut for the Packers as Porter may get some interest from other teams.
Charlie Peprah, S, Alabama: Peprah is a steady veteran contributor to the Packers secondary but will never be anything more than a backup. He was acquired on waivers from the New York Football Giants in 2006. Peprah, if cut, will find another team relatively quickly.
Jarrett Bush, CB/S, Utah State: Another four-year veteran waiver wire pick-up by Ted Thompson, this time from Carolina. Bush, like Peprah and Porter, will be yet another difficult cut by the Packers, as he is not a scout team candidate. He will be signed by somebody else, having shown versatility and improvement over his time in Green Bay
Wow, five guys already? What's next?
What's next is the defensive line and four more players hitting the skids.
Ronald Talley, DE, Delaware: Another rookie free agent from this offseason. Talley is definite practice squad material.
Dean Muhtadi, DE/NT, Maryland: Another RFA, another practice squad candidate.
Anthony Toribio, NT, Carson-Newman: One more year of experience but otherwise just the same as Talley and Muhtadi. The Packers have a lot of potential on their defensive line but injuries are always a potential problem. They'd like to keep guys like Toribio, Talley and Muhtadi close because of their familiarity with the system but don't have room for them on the active roster. This means scout team.
Alfred Malone, DE, Troy: If both Malone and CB Trevor Ford are cut the Packers will no longer have any players from Troy on their roster. Now I've never met Troy and I don't want to bad mouth him but maybe this is a good thing.
Nine from the defensive side already?
There's three more. We haven't talked about the linebackers yet.
Cyril Obiozor, OLB, Texas A&M: Yet another RFA. Cyril has the right size for a three-four outside 'backer and is another potential scout teamer.
Brad Jones, ILB, Colorado: Jones seems to be valued fairly highly by the Packers for a seventh round rookie. He missed most of the preseason due to injury and didn't have much of a chance to prove himself. Apparently he's a special teams ace and that could allow him to beat out, say, Spencer Havner.
Danny Lansanah, ILB, Connecticut: Lansanah was brought in last year at the cost of veteran defensive-end Jason Hunter who had to be cut to make roster room. Nothing against Lansanah, but if he gets cut that will really burn my briquettes. Why not, say, trade a useless Justin Harrell to the Lions for a sixth round pick, not sign Lansanah who you'll eventually cut anyway and keep Hunter? At least Hunter did something for the team, unlike the other JH.
Whatever, Ted Thompson has a difficult job and more often than not he looks pretty good. Jason Hunter is certainly not the most controversial decision he's ever made.
Okay, we're rolling. Offense?
I'm a firm believer that a team can never have enough depth on the offensive line.
This is true 364 days a year. Three hundred sixty-five on leap years. Sept. 5th is the exception. Somebody has got to go.
Evan Dietrich-Smith, G/C, Idaho State: Rookie free agent. Surprise! The Packers seem to be set at depth for both center and guard. Dietrich-Smith may find the practice squad.
Dane Randolph, T, Maryland: Randolph is another RFA who has to beat out three fifth round draft picks to make the roster as a backup tackle. I don't see this happening.
Andrew Hartline, G/T, Central Michigan: Hartline has turned some heads at Packers camp with his nastiness and versatility. Versatile is great, but currently every guard on the Packers roster except Josh Sitton is listed as a tackle as well. Sitton was a fourth round draft pick a year ago and I don't see the Packers letting him go just yet. This could leave Hartline on the outside looking in.
Aren't the Packers really deep at wide receiver?
Extremely. This is bad news for three young guys, because I don't see the team keeping more than five wideouts to start the year.
Kole Heckendorf, WR, North Dakota State: Another RFA. Practice squad? Maybe.
Jake Allen, WR, Mississippi College: Signed as an RFA in '08. Too much depth for Jake to stick around.
Brett Swain, WR, San Diego State: I have a really strong feeling Brett Swain is going to sign with a division rival and find success. I don't think the Packers can keep this '08 seventh round pick on the practice squad as he has shown too much improvement to not be signed elsewhere. I wish him all the luck and good fortune possible; I just hope it's in Kansas City and not Chicago.
Any more pass catchers we won't be seeing anymore?
Evan Moore, TE, Stanford: An honest to God veteran free agent pick-up by Ted Thompson. Moore spent a little time on the Saints roster as an RFA before being picked up by Thompson last year. He never saw any game experience or anything, I was just getting tired of constantly writing "another rookie free agent."
You just wrote it again there though.
Just drop it alright? If you've been counting, that's 19 already; only the backfield is left.
Quarterbacks are very hard to come by these days. Just ask the Vikings. While the Packers are blessed with a young starter who is blossoming into a potential star, their backup situation goes from inexperienced over-achiever (currently injured, too) to relatively grim.
If the Sept. 3 preseason finale against the Titans showed us anything about Brian Brohm it's that if he really applies himself he can be surprisingly mediocre.
But there will be no cuts at this position. Not this year at least. Which leaves the backs.
John Kuhn, FB, Shippensburg: The Packers obviously drafted Quinn Johnson out of LSU in the fifth round this year to replace somebody and it might as well be Kuhn. It's either him or Korey Hall; Hall and Kuhn have been virtually indistinguishable from each other during their Packers careers, with the only real difference being Kuhn spent a year with the Steelers as a linebacker.
The Packers drafted Hall, which tells me they'll release Kuhn, who was a waiver wire pickup from Pittsburgh.
Kregg Lumpkin, RB, Georgia: A very intelligent and articulate Packers writer (not me!) has already made some noise about Kregg Lumpkin, maybe, being the best running back on the Packers roster.
I like him because of his name. It's a football name, and I dare you to say any different.
Lumpkin...Reminds me of "Brockington," and yeah, I know I'm too young but NFL films kicks some serious butt for checking out the legends.
Anyway, for these and other reasons I really hope the Packers work some kind of magic and that Lumpy has an eighteen hundred yard season this year as the starting tailback. Probably won't happen. Practice squad? Hopefully will happen.
You will no doubt be very surprised to learn that Lumpkin was signed as an un-drafted rookie free agent in 2008. I'm surprised. He has had injury troubles throughout his college and professional career and that will be a big factor in the Packers decision.
DeShawn Wynn, RB, Florida: It's official, running back Tyrell Sutton is pretty good. Sutton, another rookie free agent out of Northwestern seems to be a lock for the Packers 2009 final roster; which is great for him and not so great for DeShawn Wynn.
Are the Packers willing to declare 2007 second-round pick Brandon Jackson a bust and move forward with Wynn as their No. 2 tail? Wynn was a seventh round selection in that same draft by the Packers and has had a merry-go-round of a career with the Pack as he's been released, re-signed and relegated to the scout team on several occasions. He has shown big play potential at times; to be honest, more than Jackson has. This would be a really tough call if it were my job to make it.
Thankfully it's not, although the paycheck would be nice. Having your face posted everywhere with pictures of cross hairs super-imposed over top? Not so much.
Twenty-two names. Am I right? A few times sure, but we'll find out for real in about a day.
Anyway, that's the end of part one, "Pure Conjecture." Join us soon for part two, "Just the Facts."
Until then Packers fans. Until then everybody; I'm no snob.