It’s only been one year since the Packers drafted Tariq Carpenter with a seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech, where he had played big safety (he is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds) before converting to inside linebacker this NFL offseason in Green Bay. Seeing as he played 14 games as a rookie, he might not have been considered much of a threat to be axed from the upcoming 53-man roster.
But the Packers did release Carpenter this week after he initially made the 53-man roster, and he was scooped up quickly, joining an already superb Pittsburgh defense as part of the team’s practice squad.
The Steelers welcome his versatility as a tackler and a pass-defender. This preseason, Carpenter played 63 defensive snaps and made six tackles with one pass defended.
Carpenter was originally on the roster, but the Packers decided to go with traditional safety Zayne Anderson, signed after he was let go by the Bills, and rookie tight end Ben Sims out of Baylor. The Packers need depth at tight end, having lost Tyler Davis to ACL surgery stemming from an injury in the preseason opener.
It was presumed that Carpenter had been offered a slot with the Packers’ practice squad, but a spot with Pittsburgh had more appeal.
Packers Have NFL’s Youngest Roster
After the initial cutdowns to 53 players, the Packers had the youngest roster in the NFL (at 24.9 years old), loaded with draft picks and players still in the early stages of their NFL careers. The Packers kept 11 of their 13 draft picks from 2023, and also kept three undrafted free agents, giving them 14 rookies. Should the Packers keep at least one UDFA on the roster for Week 1, it will mark the 19th straight year that Green Bay has done so.
The only two draftees to be released were seventh-round receiver Grant DuBose and seventh-round running back Lew Nichols, who sustained a shoulder injury and was waived injured.
In addition to Carpenter, defensive lineman Jonathan Ford was also released. He, too, was a 2022 Packers draft pick. He and Carpenter are the only 2022 draftees who have been waived by Green Bay.
Youth Was Not ‘Intentional,’ GM Says
As for the team’s youth following the departure of 39-year-old Aaron Rodgers, general manager Brian Gutekunst said that was mostly a coincidence—the players the Packers sought happened to be young.
“I don’t think it was intentional to be young,” he said in a press conference this week. “I think our intention was to be athletic, fast and have a really competitive camp so the best guys rose to the top, and I think that’s what we accomplished. But it wasn’t just to be young.”
Gutekunst added that the three undrafted rookies could benefit from joining the Packers because there will be chances to play.
“You’re gonna get a real opportunity,” he said. “Just because someone was drafted ahead of you, might have been here for previous years, doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get an opportunity to make this squad. It’s been an open competition and let the guys who performed the best earn it.”