The Green Bay Packers are eyeing a pair of rookie defenders as possible additions for their playoff-bound roster.
According to the NFL’s Friday transaction wire, the Packers hosted linebacker Asmar Bilal and defensive back Jaquarius Landrews for workouts on Thursday after each spent time with other squads as undrafted rookies earlier this season. They also worked out punter Ryan Winslow and hosted kicker J.J. Molson for a visit.
The Packers have one available space on their 53-man roster and none open on the practice squad, where the rookies would most likely land if signed, but it is possible the situation could change if they make any moves prior to Saturday night’s kickoff against the Carolina Panthers.
Follow the Heavy on Packers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Injuries Have Plagued Both Auditioning Rookies
Bilal, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound weakside linebacker, was an All-American honorable mention for Notre Dame during the 2019 season and recorded 74 total tackles and 10 for a loss while appearing in every game. He finished his career with 174 tackles, 17.5 TFLs and two fumble recoveries over 45 appearances; though, he still went unselected in the 2020 NFL draft.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed Bilal as an undrafted free agent in the days following the draft and gave him an opportunity to make his NFL debut in Week 2 against Kansas City, but he sustained a calf injury on the first play and was forced to miss the next nine games. He briefly returned for a special teams-only role in Week 13 against New England before the Chargers cut their losses and waived him on Dec. 12.
As for Landrews, injuries have also caused some problems. The New York Giants added the 6-foot, 200-pound safety as a UDFA in the spring following his standout senior season for Mississippi State and even signed him to a partially guaranteed contract, but an undisclosed injury forced him onto injured reserve coming out of camp. While it seemed he could be given the year to heal, the Giants opted instead to waive him with an injury settlement on Dec. 14.
The Packers could just be assessing the available talent, but Landrews would make the better fit if they were, in fact, looking to sign one of the rookies. They signed their only practice-squad safety — rookie Henry Black — to the active roster after Raven Greene landed on IR, so more depth at the position wouldn’t hurt.
At the same time, another linebacker could also be useful with backup James Burgess Jr. still on IR and De’Jon Harris their lone option at inside linebacker.
Will Packers Make Any Notable Signings for Playoffs?
With a playoff berth clinched, the Packers will spend the next three weeks analyzing any potential weaknesses in their rosters and what moves might be possible to help address them, but will there be any more notable free-agent signings?
Last year, Green Bay brought in veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer to help fortify its offensive line and got some valuable swing-tackle reps out of him amid injures to others. The same type of move was pulled again a few weeks ago when they added veteran returner/gadget receiver Tavon Austin to replace the injured Tyler Ervin (currently on IR).
Even with about $4.2 million left in salary-cap space, though, the Packers could be content letting some of their injured players return naturally and making do with their current squad without some big-name reinforcements. Several of their players currently on IR could return either before the end of the year or for the postseason, including center Corey Linsley.