Packers Players Who Need Impressive Camp to Avoid Being Cut

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2021

Packers Players Who Need Impressive Camp to Avoid Being Cut

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The biggest mystery surrounding the Green Bay Packers heading into training camp is whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers will return. Rodgers has been staying away from the organization and doesn't appear to know his own preferred future.

    "I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this week," Rodgers told NBC Sports during the American Century Championship. "And then I'm going to get back to working out and figure things out in a couple weeks."

    If Rodgers decides that he wants to play for the Packers in 2021, Green Bay will undoubtedly have a roster spot for him. The same cannot be said for other players on this championship-caliber roster.

    Here, we'll examine three players who will need to impress in training camp to stick around for the 2021 season.

TE Jace Sternberger

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Two years ago, the Packers used a third-round pick on Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger. While Sternberger has shown the occasional flash of promise, he has not developed into a consistent offensive asset.

    Sternberger only appeared in six games as a rookie and 12 games in 2020. He played only 19 percent of the offensive snaps last season and watched as 2017 undrafted free agent Robert Tonyan emerged as a star.

    With Tonyan as the starter and Marcedes Lewis returning as the veteran backup, there isn't a defined role waiting for Sternberger. The Packers may now want to use his roster spot on a developmental player with more upside than he has shown.

    Sternberger is also facing a two-game suspension to start the 2021 season.

    Cutting Sternberger would only save roughly $600,000 in cap space, but it could provide an opportunity with a player better suited for Green Bay's long-term plans.

WR Devin Funchess

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Devin Funchess was signed during the 2020 offseason but decided to opt out amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He's back for 2021 but Funchess faces a lot of competition at the receiver position.

    Davante Adams highlights the receiving corps, while Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are fine complementary options. The Packers also have Equamimeous St. Brown and rookie third-round pick Amari Rodgers on the roster, among others.

    The issue for Funchess is that he hasn't played in over a year and has played just one game since the 2018 season. He was never a high-end perimeter target with the Carolina Panthers or Indianapolis Colts, and it's fair to wonder how much he can contribute as a rotational player in Green Bay.

    Funchess is set to carry a cap hit of $1.5 million and has only $300.000 in dead money on his contract. While the cap savings wouldn't be massive, the Packers won't be inclined to pay a player who isn't going to make the offense better. Fuchess will have to impress to stick in 2021. 

CB Josh Jackson

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Packers took cornerback Josh Jackson in the second round of the 2018 draft, and the Iowa product had an immediate impact as a rookie. He started 10 games during his inaugural NFL campaign and had an impressive 10 passes defended to go with 29 total tackles.

    However, Jackson has apparently fallen out of favor in Green Bay and has made just five starts since. He played just 10 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019 and 32 percent of the snaps last season.

    Jackson could find himself even deeper on the depth chart this year after Green Bay used a first-round pick on cornerback Eric Stokes. While there's no such thing as a can't-miss prospect, Stokes appears capable of contributing right away.

    "Stokes is a speedy, cover first corner. Playing in the SEC, he has the speed to run with most receivers he came up against," Cory Giddings of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    If the Packers decide to pull the plug on the Jackson experiment, they could save roughly $1.3 million in cap space by doing so.