Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst announced Tuesday the release of 29-year-old quarterback Blake Bortles, a former No. 3 overall draft pick who the team signed in May to serve as a veteran insurance policy while the team attempted to negotiate Rodgers’ return to Green Bay for the 2021 season.
Bortles had participated in the team’s offseason workouts earlier this year and was taking reps behind second-year Jordan Love during mandatory minicamp in June, but the return of Rodgers eliminated the need for a seasoned quarterback on the roster. The Packers will free up about $70,000 in cap space with the move as Bortles had signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum ($1,075,000) that offered no guarantees or bonuses.
The Packers also released Jake Dolegala, who was signed on June 10 after impressing during his tryout during the team’s minicamp. There is no cap impact associated with his release, but it does leave the Packers with three quarterbacks remaining on their active roster: Rodgers, Love and former Atlanta Falcons backup Kurt Benkert.
The moves open another two spaces on the Packers’ active roster for training camp, but one of the spots could be reserved for veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is reportedly heading back to Green Bay in a trade out of Houston.
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Benkert Receives Golden Opportunity
It was inevitable the Packers would cut from their stockpile of quarterbacks once they reached some form of a resolution with Rodgers. Bortles offered them a veteran with starting experience to back up Love if he was needed to rise to the top job in 2021. Meanwhile, Benkert and Dolegala both provided young, developmental options to consider for a QB3 role either on the active roster or practice squad.
Given how spring workouts went, though, it isn’t entirely surprising to find that Benkert is the last man standing out of the group. The fourth-year quarterback struggled to win a spot on the Falcons’ active roster over his first three NFL seasons, throwing four interceptions and completing less than 36% of his passes in his most recent preseason effort in 2019, but he was much more impressive in Green Bay earlier this year.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was already getting excited about Benkert’s preseason debut when speaking about him at the end of OTAs back in June.
“Kurt’s had a couple of years in the league in Atlanta and he can really throw the football,” LaFleur said on June 17. “It’s going to come down to, again, being able to do that in the preseason games to really show us what he can do and what he’s capable of. But (I) love the guy, he’s just been a sponge in that room and always asks great questions, and I think he definitely has a chance to show what he can do this preseason.”