GREEN BAY – There will only one roster reduction this summer, but that won’t make the decisions any easier for Packers General Manager Ted Thompson and his personnel department.
In a little more than a week, the Packers and the other 31 teams in the NFL will have to reduce their roster from 90 to 53 players in preparation for the 2017 season.
The league changed the guidelines this year for the roster reduction, going from two cuts – one to 75 after the third preseason game and a final to 53.
It was a measure both Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy supported since it gives young players trying to make the active roster one more preseason game to prove themselves.
“It’s a tough day for all of us,” said Thompson, reflecting on his own experience as a player. “The thing you don’t know as a player, all those coaches who came and talked to me, I know now it was a tough day for them. I didn’t realize that at the time. It’s a tough day for all of us to bear that burden and tell them it’s not going to work out.”
Thompson has a unique perspective on the process since he was a part of it at the end of his career with the Houston Oilers in 1984. He keeps that experience in mind when he and scouts give feedback to players who have been released.
“Those visits and those times, together with those players, can sometimes take your breath away and bring you to tears,” Thompson said. “Sometimes the player is a good move and feels confident about his next step in life, and that’s OK. We hope that it’s a good message we’re passing on to them, but we also know it’s a tough medicine to take.”
Thompson said he doesn’t anticipate an increase in trades with one cut instead of two. He expects the normal amount of wheeling and dealing, as teams begin sorting out their roster.
“Everybody has their own wish list and own idea of how to fill that wish list,” Thompson said. “Usually, whatever we think other people don’t necessarily agree with. Trades are not easy to be made, but there are times, especially over next two weeks, they are a little more prevalent.”
Over the next week, Thompson will be looking at every player on the roster regardless of whether it’s the starters or an undrafted rookie trying to impress on special teams.
When the games are finished, the Packers will select their opening 53-man active roster and establish a 10-player practice squad.
“We think about different lineups and different names,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t mean you’re stuck because you won’t know what you don’t know until those things get taken care of. You can’t put the cart before the horse.”