Thursday Thoughts: Jace’s Fate
Green Bay has 13 players from SEC schools on their 53-man roster, but none are from Alabama. Last week’s release of punter JK Scott made that a reality for the first time in years. Here are three more Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind in recent days:
1) It’ll be interesting to see what the Packers do with Jace Sternberger when his two-game suspension ends later this month. On one hand, carrying five tights on the 53-man roster seems unlikely. But on the other hand, the 25-year-old might be deemed too talented to simply cut. After all, other disappointing Day 2 draft picks (cornerback Josh Jackson and linebacker Oren Burks) were afforded more than two seasons to try to fulfill their potential. Barring a serious injury to one of the current tight ends, the guess here is that Sternberger will be released after the Week 2 game against the Lions with the hope of keeping him around on the practice squad. Would a young player with obvious talent clear waivers? Perhaps. His lack of production and the suspension could keep interest down.
2) It’s easy and oftentimes fair to criticize Mark Murphy, but you have to admire his honesty. In this month’s Q&A at the team’s website, the Packers’ president and CEO was asked if a team could win a Super Bowl without an elite QB. Here’s what he wrote: “I don’t think you can win a Super Bowl now without an elite quarterback. The other issue is whether you can win with an elite quarterback getting paid a full-market salary. Tom Brady has been paid less than full market throughout most of his career, and Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl on a rookie contract.” Is that a not-so-subtle dig at Aaron Rodgers, whose league-high cap number of $37.2 million handicapped the Packers all offseason and will escalate to a massive $46 million next year? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a valid point. The last 10 Super Bowls were won by seven QBs who took up an average of 8.2% of their team’s cap. Even after a July restructuring, Rodgers will count 14.5% this season and theoretically over 20% in 2022.
3) It’s possible there was nothing the Packers could’ve done to convince Jim Leonhard to leave the University of Wisconsin, but I sure hope money wasn’t an issue. Murphy should’ve offered to make the 38-year-old one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL. Leonhard is that special. He’s cerebral, creative, and inspiring, and while he’s never coached in the pros, he played 10 seasons for five teams. Maybe the Packers did everything possible to get Leonhard to make the switch from Madison to Green Bay, but if they didn’t, shame on them for going into a Super Bowl or bust season without a guy who could’ve made the bust part of that term a lot less likely.
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