With cornerback injuries beginning to pile up, the Green Bay Packers have set their sights on one of the best available veterans on the market.
According to the NFL transaction wire for October 12, the Packers hosted veteran cornerback Quinton Dunbar for a free-agent visit on Tuesday as they continue to assess their options at the position following injures to both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King.
Update (October 12, 5:47 p.m. ET): According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Packers are signing Dunbar to their practice squad after his visit on Tuesday. There are not currently any open spots on their 16-man practice squad, but they do have an opening on their active roster, suggesting there could be a few corresponding moves announced when Dunbar’s signing becomes official.
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Dunbar Has Made 25 Starts in NFL Career
Dunbar, 29, rose from a former undrafted free agent — originally classified as a receiver before switching to defensive back — to a regular starter for the Washington Football Team over his first five seasons in the NFL, reaching his peak during the 2019 season when he recorded four interceptions, eight pass deflections and 37 total tackles over 11 starts before a hamstring injury ended his season.
Following a season that earned him Pro Bowl consideration, Dunbar was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a fifth-round pick in March 2020, but his fresh start with a playoff contender reached a snag almost immediately when he was arrested a few months later in connection with an armed robbery; though, prosecutors declined to press charges against him due to “insufficient evidence,” according to The Athletic’s Jordan Raanan.
Dunbar returned before the end of training camp and, despite taking some time to catch up to speed, ended up beating out Tre Flowers for a starting job heading into the season opener. It didn’t take long for him to impress the Seahawks, either, as Dunbar tallied two pass deflections, one tackle for a loss and an interception in his first two games. Unfortunately, he injured his knee at the end of their second game and never quite returned to full strength, playing just four more games on the year.
Dunbar also spent time with the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals over the past several months. He signed a one-year deal with the Lions back on April 6, but they waived him on August 12 prior to their first preseason game after he missed the majority of training camp due to personal reasons. He then latched on with the Cardinals’ practice squad on September 29, but he was released less than a week later.
What Will Packers CB Rotation Look Like vs. Bears?
The Packers signing Dunbar to their practice squad could simply be a precaution. They have not yet disclosed the severity of King’s shoulder injury nor has a final decision been rendered on Alexander’s return timeline. In the best-case scenario, King misses no time and Alexander returns after spending only a few more weeks on the sideline, restoring both veteran pieces to the Packers defense.
They will need help in just about any other circumstance, though, which begs the question: Can Dunbar quickly earn himself a role in the rotation?
Regardless of King’s health, the Packers have been leaning on first-round rookie Eric Stokes as their No. 1 outside cornerback since Alexander was injured in Week 4. The hope is that he will continue improving in that role and offer them some stability in their secondary, but he is also still a rookie who is bound to have his rookie mistakes — or even over the course of an entire performance.
The bigger concern is the cornerback spot opposite Stokes. When King dropped out of Week 5’s win in the fourth quarter, the Packers turned to former New York Giants veteran Isaac Yiadom for relief duty and got below-average results from him over a short period of time, during which the Bengals converted a two-point try against his coverage. Maybe they will trust him with starting responsibilities if King is unable to play when they visit Chicago in Week 6, but it would be understandable if they were hesitant.
The Packers also have fifth-round rookie Shemar Jean-Charles and newly-signed Rasul Douglas on their active roster along with Kabion Ento on their practice squad with Dunbar.