Green Bay Packers: Recapping Roster Moves from the Past Week

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 03: Helmets sit on the field during the Green Bay Packers practice at summer training camp on August 3, 2009 at the Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 03: Helmets sit on the field during the Green Bay Packers practice at summer training camp on August 3, 2009 at the Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s been a busy week for the Green Bay Packers, and if you’ve missed any moves, you can find everything that took place right here.

NFL training camps are underway, and in terms of roster moves, it was a fairly busy week for the Green Bay Packers. However, it wasn’t the kind of busy that is normally taking place at this time of the year.

Typically, the Packers are riding bikes, holding practices over at Ray Nitschke Field, and I am happily in attendance. But this year, they – and every other NFL team – are undergoing coronavirus testing, and many teams are also trimming down their roster to that magic number of 80 players.

Yes, that is another abnormality this year. Instead of the traditional 90 players attending camp, teams are whittling their rosters down to just 80 so that they don’t have to hold split practices when they can finally take the practice field.

So like I said, it’s been a busy week for the Green Bay Packers, busy just has a different definition in 2020. If you’ve missed anything, here is a recap of all of that moves that have taken place over the past week.

Gerald Willis is Waived

The first move that the Green Bay Packers made to trim their roster size came on Sunday evening as they decided to move on from Gerald Willis. Willis had only been a Packer for a few months after being claimed off waivers from Miami back in April.

2019 was Willis’ rookie season in which he started out in Baltimore and, after being cut, landed on the Miami practice squad. He would spend most of the season there but did see some limited action as he totaled two tackles, and two quarterback hurries on 19 snaps.

After a productive college career, I, for one thought, Willis could come in and compete for a potential roster spot or, at a minimum, be a practice squad player once again given the lack of depth that Green Bay has along the defensive line. However, that isn’t the case anymore, and the Packers are could very well have the same group of interior defensive linemen that they did in 2019.

Devin Funchess Opts Out

We saw a number of players around the NFL make the difficult decision to opt-out of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus, and Devin Funchess, up to this point, has been the lone Green Bay Packer to do so.

By now, we all know that the Packers’ wide receiver unit needs to kick it up a notch this season, and many fans are even more concerned about this group since Green Bay’s one major addition will not be with the team. And while I agree, not having Funchess does put more pressure on Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Jake Kumerow, this shouldn’t change your expectations for this team either.

I saw Funchess as a veteran player who would provide stability to a receiving corps with several unknowns. However, he likely wasn’t going to be the difference between Green Bay winning and losing a Super Bowl. Along with the receivers mentioned above, Davante Adams, and the versatile running backs and tight ends in this offense, Aaron Rodgers will still have plenty of pass-catchers to target.

Sternberger, Crosby, Hester, and Roberts end up on Reserve/COVID List

With testing taking place this week, it seemed inevitable that a few players were going to end up on the Reserve/COVID list with how easily this virus can spread. And for the Green Bay Packers, earlier in the week, they added four names, Jace Sternberger, Mason Crosby, Treyvon Hester, and Greg Roberts, to that list.

Now, an important distinction is that if a player is on this list, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have COVID; instead, they may have been in contact with someone recently who does.

As far as their return to the team goes, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic (subscription required) summed it up nicely here in a recent article:

"“If any of the aforementioned four players tested positive and are symptomatic, they can return to Lambeau Field if at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms appeared and at least 72 hours have passed since they last experienced symptoms. They must then be cleared by the Packers team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie.If they tested positive but are asymptomatic, they can return to the facility if 10 days have passed since their first positive test or if five days have passed since their first negative test and they receive two straight negative results within those five days. McKenzie also must clear the player in this scenario.”"

Packers claim John Lovett off Waivers from Kansas City

While many teams are waiving players, the Green Bay Packers made an addition in H-back John Lovett. Lovett was a tight end for the Chiefs in 2019, where he spent the entire season on injured reserve, and he was also a do-it-all quarterback while at Princeton.

As an H-back, Lovett will be asked to do a little bit of everything in addition to lining up all over the formation as well. With the third-round selection of Josiah Deguara in the draft, we know that this is an important role within Matt LaFleur’s offense, and Lovett provides some insurance as well as an extra body in training camp at this H-back position.

Jones and Madison are Waived

On Friday, the Green Bay Packers would waive two more players, 2020 undrafted free agent and fullback Jordan Jones, along with 2018 fifth-round pick, Cole Madison. With versatile H-backs on the roster in Deguara and Lovett, carrying a traditional fullback seems unnecessary, so I can understand this move.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Madison, he’s had a lot to overcome in his short NFL career after sitting out the 2018 season for mental health reasons and then ending the 2019 season on IR. At the guard position, the Packers have plenty of options, so even if he wasn’t waived now, making the final roster was going to be an uphill battle for him.

4 Players make NFI or PUP Lists

According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, on Friday, the Green Bay Packers designated Curtis Bolton and Yosh Nijman on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. While rookies, Simon Stepaniak and Patrick Taylor were placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list.

In both instances, players will have to miss the first six weeks of the regular season if they are still on either of these lists once the season begins. The difference is that if a player is on the NFI list, the team doesn’t have to pay their salary since the injury occurred away from football.

After tearing his ACL in practice last December and given the depth at the guard position, 2020 is likely going to end up being a pseudo-redshirt year for Stepaniak. And in Taylor’s case, the running back room is already pretty well established, but as an effective runner and pass-catcher at Memphis, he could be someone who makes the practice squad.

Next. Packers Reportedly Offered Snacks Harrison a Contract. dark

In Bolton’s case, he was able to make some noise last summer before tearing his ACL, but in a crowded, albeit largely unproven linebacker room, he is going to need to be on the practice field as much as possible this summer and pick up where he left off if he hopes to make the final roster. Meanwhile, with Nijman, he is loaded with potential, but his skill-set is still quite raw. Perhaps another year on the practice squad will do the trick.