Packers Host Former Cowboys First-Round DE for Visit

Charlton Packers Workout

Getty Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys cuts around Anthony Castonzo #74 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of a preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.

A former Dallas Cowboys first-round pick could soon be giving Kenny Clark some much-needed support in Green Bay’s defensive trenches.

According to Monday’s NFL transaction wire, the Packers hosted former Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton for a visit on September 20 ahead of their showdown with the Detroit Lions for Monday Night Football.

Charlton, the No. 28 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, played 27 games for Dallas during his first two seasons in the league and primarily served as a backup for defensive end Randy Gregory. While he did make seven starts opposite Gregory in his second season, Charlton fell out of favor with the defensive coaching staff during his third training camp in 2019 and was released after spending the first two games of the season as a healthy inactive — and expressing frustration on social media.

Most recently, Charlton spent a season each with the Miami Dolphins (2019) and Kansas City Chiefs (2020), adding another 28 tackles, seven sacks, nine quarterback hits and three forced fumbles to his resume between the two stops. He has been a free agent since the Chiefs released him on August 23.

The Packers also had veteran defensive end R.J. McIntosh in for a free-agent visit on the same day, a potential precursor to them signing him to their active roster or practice squad after he worked out for them at the beginning of Week 2. McIntosh was a 2018 fifth-round pick for the New York Giants and recorded 18 tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits over 18 games during his two seasons with the team.

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Could Charlton Get Fresh Start in Green Bay?

The Cowboys clearly didn’t get enough from Charlton (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) to justify spending a first-round pick on him. Instead of becoming a new and dynamic pass rusher for their defense, he fizzled out of their system in a little more than two years and was squarely deemed a “bust” with some even dubbing him the team’s worst pick of the 2010s decade.

Charlton’s production in his next two stops, however, suggests there could still be some good football ahead for him regardless of who next takes a chance on him.

During his lone season with the Dolphins, Charlton made his presence known when he was on the field was a career-high five sacks over just 10 games. He looked even better in his situational role with the Chiefs in 2020, tallying seven tackles and two sacks while playing on just 90 total defensive snaps for the team. That’s quality production for such a small sampling size and something that could benefit the Packers should they decide to take a chance on him.

The one thing that gives pause about Charlton is his general availability. He had surgery on his shoulder and ankle during his time with the Cowboys, then had different injury issues arise during his one-year stint with the Chiefs, spending the final seven games of the 2020 season on injured reserve. An upgrade for the defensive line may feel like a priority for the Packers, but it wouldn’t do them much good if his health can’t hold up.

Will McIntosh Boost Packers’ Practice Squad?

While Charlton is the bigger name on the Packers’ visits list, McIntosh may stand a better chance of actually being signed to one of their rosters. It is usually a good sign when a player works out for a team and is then brought back for another visit, so let’s take a closer look at what McIntosh (6-foot-4, 283 pounds) could bring to the table for the Packers.

McIntosh’s time with the Giants got off to a rough start when he landed on the non-football injury list with a thyroid issue to begin his first training camp in 2018. While he returned and played in six games as a rookie, he had a minimal impact over his 65 defensive snaps with just five total tackles and one quarterback hit on the year. Things got marginally better in his second season with him recording the first two sacks of his career and playing in 12 games, but his snap count (114) did not move in the right direction and eventually led to him being demoted to the practice squad.

Now, the Packers might not be looking for more than a practice-squad body to develop, but it is worth mentioning that their defensive line struggled immensely in Week 1’s loss to New Orleans. He could join the practice squad alongside Abdullah Anderson and, with the right amount of hard work, make his way to the active roster via game-day elevation if the core unit can’t pick things up.

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