The Green Bay Packers must have their roster trimmed to 53 players before 3:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Before Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur start making cuts, which LaFleur said will likely start on Tuesday, here are some final thoughts on the state of the roster and what could happen before the deadline:
— Patrick Taylor is a core special teamer for Rich Bisaccia, and his importance on special teams only amplified after Tyler Davis went down with a season-ending injury. He played on all the important special teams units this summer. While keeping only two running backs on the initial 53-man roster makes sense, I think Taylor is too important to Bisaccia for the Packers to cut him. He might be needed in all 17 games.
— Austin Allen made a strong case for a roster spot as the run-blocking, inline, Y tight end. He ended up as PFF’s No. 5 overall run-blocker among tight ends during the preseason. He’s a massive tight end at 6-8, but he’s also athletic and offers up potential both in the passing game and special teams. There’s a chance he sticks as the fourth tight end (with Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft and fullback/tight end Josiah Deguara).
— Samori Toure is the backup slot receiver, and the Packers gave him a lot of looks as a returner during the preseason. He wasn’t super impressive as a receiver this summer, but he’s a trusted player in a young position group. I think he sticks.
— I don’t think the Packers should trade Yosh Nijman, even if he’s fallen behind ascending second-year offensive tackle Rasheed Walker. David Bakhtiari is an unknown over a 17-game schedule, and Zach Tom is probably the top backup at both center and guard. If Bakhtiari goes down or has a stretch where his knee acts up, or one of the interior starters gets hurt, Walker and Nijman will become really important players. Unless the Packers get offered a premium pick in the 2024 draft, I think they keep him as the No. 4 offensive tackle. Ensure Jordan Love is protected no matter the injury situation along the offensive line in 2023.
— Luke Tenuta is dealing with an injury but remains on the roster. Do the Packers want to keep him on the initial 53-man roster and then place him on IR? It’s a possibility.
— Keeping Jonathan Ford is tough from a roster-building standpoint. He’d be the sixth defensive lineman and the backup nose tackle, meaning he’s unlikely to be on the active roster most gamedays. Ford also played only seven special teams snaps during the preseason. He’s improved in Year 2, but his value might be too specific to keep on this roster. Ford is perfect for the practice squad and would be a player to elevate or sign if an injury happens to TJ Slaton.
— Brenton Cox Jr. might be the only player I’d fear losing on waivers if the Packers released him during final cuts. He’s a young, talented player at a premium position who produced disruptive moments in the preseason. Keeping six edge rushers would be rare, but Cox is worth developing long-term.
— It’s possible the Packers weigh the long-term value of Cox against the immediate value of Justin Hollins, who returned on a one-year deal. Kingsley Enagbare is a fine option as the No. 3 edge rusher and Lukas Van Ness improved over the summer, so Hollins could be a surprise cut if the Packers want to keep Cox but not over do it at edge rusher.
— Eric Wilson is too good on special teams to cut. And he’s the fourth-best inside linebacker on the roster, which is important with De’Vondre Campbell already dealing with an ankle injury. Should be a lock.
— Tariq Carpenter looks lost at linebacker and might be position-less at this point. Is he good enough on special teams to survive cuts? He might need time on the practice squad to get better at linebacker.
— One of the toughest decisions is at cornerback. The top four are set in stone, and Eric Stokes will almost certainly start the season on the PUP list, but there’s a legitimate decision to make between Corey Ballentine, Innis Gaines and Kiondre Thomas. Ballentine is the more valuable special teamer, but Gaines offers slot corner/safety versatility.
— Safety is a mess, and the Packers could go several different directions. Darnell Savage and Rudy Ford are the assumed starters, and Dallin Leavitt is a special teams leader. That leaves Jonathan Owens, Tarvarius Moore, Anthony Johnson Jr. and Benny Sapp jockeying for what could be only two other roster spots at safety. I think the Packers pick between Owens and Moore for one spot and Johnson and Sapp for another.
— Daniel Whelan has a big leg and is cheaper and younger than Pat O’Donnell, but I think the Packers want O’Donnell’s value and experience as a holder for rookie kicker Anders Carlson.