Packers Make Final Decision on Tramon Williams’ Return

Tramon Williams

Getty Tramon Williams of the Green Bay Packers.

For a third time in his career, Tramon Williams is a Green Bay Packer.

After multiple reports teased a reunion was probable, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst made the veteran cornerback’s return official on Thursday afternoon when he announced Williams had been signed to the team’s practice squad. The 37-year-old slot defender had previously spent 11 years with the Packers (2006-14, 18-19) and won a Super Bowl ring with the team in 2010.

The Packers also released punter Ryan Winslow from the practice squad in a corresponding move to Williams’ addition.

Williams was practicing with the Packers on Thursday and wearing his original No. 38 — a number that had belonged to practice-squad running back Mike Weber, who was changed to No. 40 — but it remains unclear what role, if any, Williams will have in Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Packers gain some support for their secondary with Williams’ addition, but they would need to elevate him to the game-day roster in order for him to play against the Bucs on Sunday. There does not appear to be anything in the NFL rules, however, that would prevent the Packers from doing so.

“It’s great to have him back in the building,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Thursday. “He’s a great veteran leader. Obviously, he’s played a lot of ball. It’s great to have him in a Green Bay Packer uniform, that’s for sure, and we’ll take it through the week and we’ll see where it goes.”

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How Williams’ Return Differs From Jared Veldheer’s

There has been some confusion among fans about how the signing of Williams — who played for Baltimore in the AFC divisional round last weekend before getting waived on Monday — could even occur, and that’s perfectly reasonable given that the league’s new CBA/updated rules don’t make for a light read.

That’s why they pay people like Gutekunst the big bucks.

The Packers have been involved in two of the most interesting postseason additions over the past few weeks, first with veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and now with Williams. The circumstances for each one, though, have been mostly different in the details.

The 33-year-old Veldheer had been the Indianapolis Colts’ starting left tackle for the final two games of their season, including their 27-24 AFC wild-card loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he was never a member of their 53-man roster. Because both of his appearances were as a game-day elevation from the practice squad, Veldheer was vulnerable to being signed away to another team’s active roster — and incentivized to do so once the Colts were eliminated from contention.

Not quite the same situation with Williams, as salary-cap specialist Ken Ingalls explained in an informative thread about the logistics of his signing:

There are still some unknowns, the biggest of which is how the Packers will feel about Williams by the end of the practice week. Is the veteran someone they believe will be able to suit up this weekend? Are they holding onto him in case they advance and have an additional two weeks to prep him for the right role?

The Packers may simply be bringing back a beloved franchise player near the end of his career so that he can join them for one final championship run — though, it would be hard to imagine Williams not wanting to compete for reps for a team that started him numerous times just one year ago.

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