Vikings, Packers Make Roster Cuts
ESPN's Adam Schefter talks about the NFL cuts.
The day Broncos' VP John Elway calls one of the hardest days in the NFL is over and teams have reduced their rosters to the mandated 53 players - or 52 in the case of the Washington Redskins, who had safety Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by the league for a third failed drug test. Saturday, some of those players released will be brought back to fill team practice squads, so not all is lost for some NFL hopefuls.
That being said, what are the pundits saying about the roster moves of the two "local" teams: the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers?
The "most significant move" by the Vikings according to John Clayton of ESPN, was the decision by the time to go young behind center with the release of the much-traveled Sage Rosenfels.
"Following the lead of other teams around the NFL, the Vikings decided to go young at quarterback. The plan all along was to have Christian Ponder as the starter, but the surprise was letting veteran backup Sage Rosenfels go, leaving Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the roster. Webb is making the transition from wide receiver to quarterback. Thompson is only 23 and hasn’t thrown a pass in the regular season. Webb has three starts and 152 pass attempts during his NFL career. The Bears and Colts found out last year it can be tough to go young at quarterback. The Bears lost Jay Cutler and their season was over. The Colts were without Peyton Manning and the season was lost with Curtis Painter."
So the question is, if Ponder goes down with an injury or is ineffective, who do the Vikings go to? Personally I like Webb. In the limited action he has seen he has shown an explosiveness. Could he lead the Vikings to the playoffs? Probably not. But then again, as the team rebuilds, there is little likelihood Tom Brady could lead them to the playoffs.
The Packers face a similar quandary. They have All-Pro and Super Bowl superstar Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, but behind him... well they have Graham Harrell. Having lost Matt Flynn to the Seahawks (and ironically to the Seahawks bench after the former Packers' back-up was upstaged by former Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson), the team is left with Harrell.
This screams Chicago Bears. Last season the Bears were off to a terrific start until Jay Cutler went down with an injury and the team was forced to use Caleb Hanie behind center. The result was a lost season and no playoffs. To avoid the same scenario, the Bears went out and picked up former Raiders starting QB Jason Campbell to serve as Cutler's back-up.
Despite a good preseason finale against the Chiefs (13-15, 223 yards, 2 TDs), Harrell was shaky to say the least during his appearances and that left many fans screaming that the Packers should have done the same. However, the team stuck with Harrell. Clayton says it is definitely a gamble:
"For weeks, outsiders have called for the Packers to make a trade or look outside of the organization for a backup quarterback. General manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy put all of their faith in Graham Harrell as the backup to Aaron Rodgers. They even raised the stakes by cutting seventh-round choice B.J. Coleman, leaving the Packers with only two quarterbacks on the roster. Harrell doesn’t have a strong arm, but he has been in the system. He finished the preseason with a strong showing. Rodgers has been able to stay healthy, only relying on former backup Matt Flynn to fill in for him for two starts. Many felt the Packers needed to make a move for a Colt McCoy or another veteran who would fit in the West Coast offense. It’s a gamble, but one the Packers were willing to make."
Of course, with cuts made by all teams, there are some available back-up quarterbacks, including Seneca Wallace (cut by the Browns), Mike Kafka (cut by the Eagles) and Brian Hoyer (cut by the Patriots). So there are options out there.
As for other positions - and there are more than just QBs on the teams - Clayton says the most surprising move by the Packers was the release of offensive lineman Andrew Datko:
"It was a little surprising they released Andrew Datko, but they could be trying to get the seventh-round choice on the practice squad. The Packers figure to bring some of the released linemen to the practice squad. "
For the Vikings, the main concern may be a lack of depth or talent at the wide receiver position.
"The concern is what happens if there is an injury. Jarius Wright, the team’s fourth-round pick, is raw. Stephen Burton, a seventh-round pick from last year, is the fifth option."
The question now remains, which players released by the Vikings and Packers will be brought back for the practice squad? What players released by other teams may the Vikings and Packers take a shot at? Stay tuned.
What do you think about the Vikings and Packers cuts? Did they make the right moves? Mistakes? Let us know. Post your comments below.