The Green Bay Packers will not be giving tight end Jace Sternberger an opportunity to redeem himself now that his two-game suspension has concluded.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Packers are waiving Sternberger rather than clearing a space for him on their 53-man roster after his suspension concluded following their Week 2 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The 2019 third-round pick will now be subject to waivers and could have a long-shot chance of returning to the practice squad if he goes unclaimed.
“It’s always a tough decision whenever you have a competitive room like that, and it was just one of those deals where we appreciate everything Jace has done,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters on Tuesday. “It was a tough decision.”
The release of Sternberger will not impact the Packers’ active roster.
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Sternberger Never Fully Delivered on Potential
Sternberger was suspended for the first two games of the 2021 season following a February incident in which he drank while on anti-depressants and fell asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle. While the Packers were allowed to hang onto him for those two weeks without him counting against their 53-man roster, it has been suspected for some time that they would ultimately part ways with Sternberger.
Sternberger’s third-round potential never consistently materialized for the Packers over his two seasons with the team. He missed the first two months of his rookie season in 2019 with an ankle injury and didn’t haul in his first reception until the Packers’ divisional-round playoff game against Seattle; though, he did catch all three of the passes thrown his way in the postseason with his first career touchdown.
In his second season, Sternberger quickly fell behind Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis on the depth chart and eventually lost his spot in the rotation to midseason signee Dominique Dafney, spending the Packers’ final six games — including both playoff contests — as a healthy inactive. He finished the regular season with 12 total receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
How Soon Will Deguara Return?
Now that Sternberger’s role has been resolved, the biggest question about the Packers’ tight end room revolves around another recent third-round pick, Josiah Deguara, and when he will be able to return to the field.
Deguara suffered a concussion during the second half of their Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints and was ruled inactive for Week 2 after coming into the game with a “doubtful” designation, but the Packers’ decision to waive Sternberger suggests things are moving in the right direction for him. After all, Sternberger could have been an easy insurance policy if the Packers had long-term concerns about Deguara’s health and wanted additional depth at the position while he recovered.
Getting Deguara back in the lineup should open up some new avenues for the Packers’ offense in the coming weeks. His ability to line up as not only a traditional tight end but also as a fullback and H-back makes him a valuable weapon for a creative play-caller like Matt LaFleur, and while Dafney can fulfill the role in the meantime, Deguara’s return should only help the Packers stay ahead of the curve offensively.
The next checkpoint for Deguara will come Wednesday when the Packers return to practice and release their first injury report for Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers.