The Green Bay Packers are cutting ties with three of their undrafted rookies after signing three new players over the past 24 hours.
According to the NFL’s official transaction wire for Tuesday, July 26, the Packers have waived cornerback Raleigh Texada, defensive lineman Hauati Pututau and safety Trey Sterling from their 90-man roster to clear room for the additions of former USFL wide receiver Osirus Mitchell, rookie offensive lineman and first-year defensive back Donte Vaughn.
Both Mitchell’s and Clary’s signings had been previously reported. Matt Lombardo, senior NFL reporter for Heavy.com, broke the news of Mitchell’s signing on Monday evening, while Clary’s agent — Brett Tessler of Tessler Sports Management — announced he would be joining the Packers earlier on Tuesday prior to the official transaction. Green Bay had hosted both of them for workouts on Monday.
Vaughn was also part of the Packers’ seven-player tryout group on Monday with Mitchell and Clary. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound defensive back originally signed with the Los Angeles Chargers after going undrafted in 2020 and spent his entire rookie season on their practice squad. Despite the Chargers re-signing him for 2021, though, he was unable to win a spot on their 53-man roster and was waived at the end of training camp, leaving him to float as a free agent for his second year in the NFL.
With the corresponding moves, the Packers are now at 90 players again for the start of training camp, even though a dozen of them — including All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and second-round rookie wide receiver Christian Watson — will begin camp on injury lists. The number was at 13, but now-released Pututau was among them.
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Can Vaughn Crack the Packers’ CB Rotation?
The Packers have one of the most solid cornerback groups in the NFL heading into 2022 with Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas signed to new contracts and 2021 first-round pick Eric Stokes looking to make a Year 2 jump after an impressive rookie season. Given the Packers typically field five or six cornerbacks on their active roster, though, there is bound to be competition this summer for the backup spots.
Vaughn has less standing than some of the other cornerbacks on the Packers’ roster such as 2021 fifth-round pick Shemar Jean-Charles, who earned his stripes as a special teams contributor as a rookie and will look to get more involved in the defense during his second year with the team. The Packers also signed Kiondre Thomas and former Las Vegas Raiders backup Keisean Nixon during the offseason and figure to have both of them squarely in the mix for the backup corner spots and roles in the third phase.
At the same time, Vaughn possesses good size for a corner and has the positional versatility to potentially move to safety, given that’s where he played in high school before becoming a full-time cornerback at Notre Dame. If he can pick up Joe Barry’s defense quickly, he might have a chance to push for one of the final spots in the cornerback rotation or, at the very least, stick around as a practice-squad player.
Special Teams Value Will Likely Decide CBs
For Vaughn to have a shot at making the Packers’ roster, he will need to prove his physical traits can be useful for Rich Bisaccia’s special teams unit in 2022. Green Bay tabbed the former Raiders coordinator to revitalize their special teams after having one of the worst units in the league last season, and the cornerback spot is a perfect place for Bisaccia to start pulling fast and physical contributors for his lineup.
Unfortunately, Vaughn doesn’t have much special teams experience on his resume. He played three preseason games in 2021 and took nearly 100 snaps on defense for the Chargers, but he was only deployed on special teams for 15 snaps and recorded no tackles in the third phase. He did, however, only miss one tackle on defense and could simply need someone to put his focus on special teams.
The problem for Vaughn is that Jean-Charles and Nixon are both being eyed for their special teams value. Nixon worked closely with Bisaccia during their time together with the Raiders and was seemingly brought to Green Bay at Bisaccia’s request, giving him an edge over some of the other contenders in the field. If Vaughn is unable to outdo either of them in camp, he will likely be put into a four-way battle for the sixth spot with Thomas, Kabion Ento (a two-year practice-squad player for the Packers) and Rico Gafford (a converted receiver who switched positions during OTAs).