The Green Bay Packers would seem to have had the right instincts about a former defensive lineman who is once again looking for a new NFL job.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Tuesday the release of 28-year-old Treyvon Hester, who spent the 2020 training camp with the Packers before getting left off their initial 53-man roster. Hester signed as a free agent last May and had been viewed as a possible rotational addition for their questionable defensive line, but an injury and a brief stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list during camp sunk his chances of obtaining a roster spot.
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The Packers are still searching for ways to enhance their defensive line around centerpiece nose tackle Kenny Clark, who they made the NFL’s highest-paid defensive lineman last summer. While 2019 fifth-rounder Kinglsey Keke showed promise before an injury ended his second year prematurely, Dean Lowry has been underperforming and could become a cap casualty.
Meanwhile, Tyler Lancaster will become a restricted free agent next week, while Montravius Adams, Damon Harrison and Billy Winn are all set to enter unrestricted free agency. The only other defensive lineman committed for 2021 are Willington Previlon and Anthony Rush, who both signed reserve/future contracts in late January after the NFC Championship Game.
Do the Packers’ new circumstance stances — including a new defensive coordinator — warrant them giving another look to Hester, though?
Hester Quiet in Return to Eagles
Last year certainly seemed like the type Hester would want to forget.
After coming to the Packers and getting some anticipation as a defensive reserve — Packers insider Bill Huber ranked him No. 56 on his offseason list of the team’s most important players — Hester was placed on the COVID-19 list on July 30 and remained stuck there for several weeks. He was activated on the third day of practice on Aug. 17, but he struggled to stand out and was released during roster cuts with an injury settlement — for an issue that was never disclosed.
Hester spent two months on the free-agent market before the Eagles re-signed him in November, but he was stashed on their practice squad and never played a snap. And despite getting re-signed to a futures deal following the 2020 season, the Eagles decided to reverse course and cut him loose just before free agency. Not a good look for prospective signers.
Upside to Giving Hester Another Look?
The Packers may not have gotten much time with Hester, but he is still a minimal-cost veteran with 41 games of playing experience. He tallied 40 tackles, four for a loss, along with two sacks, eight quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery over his first three seasons, spending a year with each the Raiders (2017), the Eagles (2018) and Washington (2019).
Unfortunately, it is difficult to say whether the Packers could truly use someone like Hester — even just to push others in camp — until they get on the other side of free agency and the 2021 NFL draft. The right combination of retaining and replacing could eliminate the need for a post-draft defensive lineman altogether, outside of the UDFA class. There are also set to be much better options hitting the market this spring as a result of cap reductions, driving down Hester’s value as he competes with a heavier pool of players.