Four quarterbacks evidently weren’t enough for the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers officially signed third-year quarterback Jake Dolegala on Thursday after hosting him on a tryout basis for their three-day mandatory minicamp. They also added him to their 90-man offseason roster without replacing one of the other four passers they have under contract, opting instead to release defensive tackle Anthony Rush to free up a roster spot.
Dolegala, 24, spent the majority of the 2020 season on the New England Patriots’ practice squad and was originally retained on a reserve/futures contract for the current offseason, but the team cut him loose the day after selecting Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-7, 242-pound quarterback also spent 2019 with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted rookie, seeing a little time on the active roster but never any on-field action.
The Packers have now signed three new quarterbacks in the past month, including former Jacksonville Jaguars veteran Blake Bortles and fourth-year Kurt Benkert. They have also publicly insisted they are still committed to working things out with veteran starter and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who skipped the minicamp along with the rest of the Packers’ offseason program.
The latest Packers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Packers newsletter here!
Love Wraps First Minicamp as QB1
Regardless of how things end with Rodgers’ ongoing standoff, the Packers got a good opportunity to see what Jordan Love might have to offer over the past three days while he was taking QB1 reps with most of the rest of the starters in a competitive environment. He struggled on Tuesday, but a bounce-back practice on Wednesday lifted spirits and turned the heads of media present for the spectacle.
On the final day, things were a little more mixed. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Love went 8-of-16 passing with two touchdown passes and one interception in what he described as a “red-zone-heavy practice.” The interception, he wrote, might have ended in a sack had the play been live, but it was also the only one he threw over his three days practicing in front of media.
Unpadded practices in the early summer are hardly a measure of how far a young quarterback has come, but the Packers at least no longer have to visualize how he looks calling the plays, commanding the huddle and making their offense run. Head coach Matt LaFleur now has a clearer picture of where Love is at in his development and was given the opportunity to devote starter attention to him in a way that hasn’t been possible in their time together yet.
The Packers also aren’t entirely done with their offseason just yet. There are still a handful of (voluntary) sessions left through the end of next week for Love to continue developing him; though, it remains to be seen whether everyone will stick around for the final stretch.
For the most part, though, Love’s next proving grounds won’t come until the end of July when players are required to report for training camp. His debut, however, could come as early as August in the Packers’ slate of three preseason games, which will be all the more interesting if Rodgers’ situation hasn’t resolved itself by then.
Where Do Other Packers QB Fit into Picture?
Dolegala is an interesting, big-bodied option for the Packers to consider at quarterback. He is tied as the tallest player on their roster (with offensive tackle Yosh Nijman) and is at least two inches taller than all of his fellow quarterbacks, including Rodgers (6-2), Love (6-4) and Bortles (6-5). Whether he will seriously impact Green Bay’s quarterback picture, though, is something that is difficult to predict as of his signing day in June.
The Rodgers situation could break down one of three different ways: He returns and the Packers continue through another strong year with both him and Love; He returns and the Packers trade Love to another team; or Rodgers doesn’t return at all and the Packers are needing quarterback depth behind an untested Love.
A situation where either Rodgers or Love departs would likely mean Blake Bortles stepping in as the Packers’ primary backup, but he could end up being the odd man out if both of the other first-round quarterbacks are present heading into the 2021 season. A veteran with starting experience could make sense as a third-string option, but a younger guy with more to develop could present them with another inexpensive and competitive backup for a few years like what they had in Tim Boyle.
Benkert and Dolegala, though, could both lose their opportunities if they don’t answer the bell. They have each spent time on multiple NFL rosters in their first few seasons and will need to show something special to persuade the Packers to invest in them, either for the 53-man roster or the practice squad.