The Green Bay Packers are scooping a veteran safety out of the cut pile.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Packers are signing former Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Rudy Ford to their 53-man roster after he was cut loose two days earlier. The 27-year-old played nearly 500 snaps as a rotational player for the Jaguars defense last season and was also an integral part of their special teams unit.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst later confirmed their signing of Ford and said the team would be releasing former USFL standout Micah Abernathy to clear room for Ford on their 53-man roster. He added they are hopeful to get Abernathy back on their practice squad, which they are now allowed to start building out for the 2022 season.
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Ford Has Significant Experience on Special Teams
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network had reported on August 29 that Ford was released due to the fact that the new Jaguars coaching staff “only viewed him in a [special teams] role,” but he also mentioned that multiple teams had tried to trade for him. Ultimately, he said a trade failed to materialize due to his $2 million salary with the Jaguars, leading them to release him to the open market where he was free to negotiate a new deal.
The Packers, however, have been looking for ways to upgrade their special teams under new coordinator Rich Bisaccia and could look to Ford as a new ace for the unit. Over his first five seasons in the league, he has played a combined 976 snaps on special teams in stops with Arizona, Philadelphia and Jacksonville and has frequented every time of role except as a protector for field-goal attempts. According to Pro Football Focus, he has a career 23 special teams tackles and notched his best special teams grade (83.4) in 2020.
Ford will also presumably compete with Dallin Leavitt, Tariq Carpenter and Micah Abernathy for a role on defense behind starters Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage Jr. Injuries forced the Packers to move on from two safeties — Vernon Scott and Shawn Davis — during camp that were expected to contribute for them in 2022, so there is an opportunity for Ford to get involved beyond special teams.
Packers Have Numerous Players Revert to IR
The Packers waived six players with injury designations during their 53-man roster cutdown on Tuesday and, according to the NFL’s official transaction wire, all of them went unclaimed and reverted back to their injured reserve list for the 2022 season. That means they will either spend the rest of the season on IR with the Packers or eventually get waived with an injury settlement that allows them to find a new team.
The list of Packers players on IR includes defensive lineman Akial Byers, safeties Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines and Vernon Scott, tight ends Nate Becker, Dominique Dafney and Alize Mack and wide receivers Danny Davis, Ishmael Hyman, Osirus Mitchell and Malik Taylor. The Packers also have running back Kylin Hill recovering from last year’s ACL injury on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but he will be eligible to return after the first four games are played.
From this point on, if the Packers add one of their rostered players to injured reserve, they will be eligible to return under normal, in-season IR rules. Under the NFL rules, teams can activate as many as eight players from IR during the season and are now allowed to activate a single player twice instead of just once. Any player placed on in-season IR must miss a minimum of four games before being eligible to return.