The Green Bay Packers will be taking a look at a veteran free agent this week who may be able to offer them a boost on both offense and special teams.
According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers are scheduled to host former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin for a tryout that has been listed on the NFL’s transaction wire but has not yet taken place. His sources did not make it clear whether the Packers were looking to sign him or simply evaluating him for later in the season.
The Packers could be eyeing Austin as a possible injury replacement for return specialist Tyler Ervin, should he end up missing more time this season. Ervin is expected to return in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears after missing last week’s game with wrist and ribs injuries, but he also missed two games earlier this year with wrist problems.
The Packers are also set to host defensive tackles Brian Price and Niles Scott for workouts after placing fourth-year Montravius Adams on injured reserve earlier this week with a toe injury that is expected to hold him out for the remainder of the 2020 season.
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Austin Would Offer Some Veteran Relief
Austin, 30, was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft for the then-St. Louis Rams and has since made a living as not only a pass-catcher but also a running back and kick returner. He tallied 1,689 receiving yards and 1,238 rushing yards over his first five seasons before the Rams traded him to the Cowboys in 2018 for a sixth-round pick.
Once in Dallas, Austin continued to improve his game but fell into a lesser role within the Cowboys’ system as injuries slowed him down. He finished with just 21 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns over 21 games and was allowed to walk in free agency when his contract expired in 2019, spending most of the offseason as a free agent.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 17, 2018
Austin did find another chance with the San Francisco 49ers in September, but a knee injury landed him on injured reserve and led to his release with an injury settlement on Oct. 27.
Now, injuries are the primary reason why the Packers would be searching for additional help in their return game, so it might be a stretch to think Austin — who hasn’t even played a snap yet in 2020 — could be a viable solution similar to how Ervin helped rejuvenate the unit in 2019.
At the same, a discount veteran with his resume of NFL experience is difficult to find under the Packers’ current spending budget. He also comes with some raw speed that saw him clock 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard dash during his 2013 NFL Combine showing, the second-fastest of the year behind Marquise Goodwin.
Austin was set to make $1.05 million with the Niners for a full season and would expectedly cost much less to bring to Green Bay.
Packers Still Seeking DL Help
The Packers also remain on the hunt for defensive linemen after head coach Matt LaFleur indicated Thursday that Adams is “probably” going to be lost for the rest of the year.
They took a first step toward addressing depth at the position on Wednesday when they scooped up second-year Anthony Rush off of the waivers from the Bears, but two more workouts — Price and Scott — suggest the Packers will continue to examine ways to improve their defensive front as the postseason draws nearer.
Price isn’t a completely unfamiliar talent for the Packers, who signed him as an undrafted rookie in 2016 and kept him mostly in development on their practice squad. He has since spent time in Dallas, Oakland, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Jacksonville; though, none on an active roster.
The 25-year-old Scott also came into the league as an undrafted talent in 2018 and played six games for the Cincinnati Bengals during his rookie year, tallying four tackles. Like Price, though, most of Scott’s time in the NFL has been spent as a practice-squad player.
The Packers have five rostered defensive lineman with Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, Dean Lowry and Billy Winn. Undrafted rookies Willington Previlon and Delontae Scott also give them two additional options on their practice squad.