Packers Rookie Abruptly Retires From NFL Ahead of OTAs

Trente Jones Green Bay Packers News Packers Roster Moves

Getty Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.

The Green Bay Packers have a new opening on their 90-man roster after one of their undrafted rookie signings abruptly retired from the NFL this week.

According to the team’s official transaction wire for May 13, the Packers placed rookie offensive lineman Trente Jones on the reserve/retired list on Monday afternoon in a pair of roster moves. They also officially announced that they have claimed second-year defensive tackle Spencer Waege off the waivers from the San Francisco 49ers.

Jones made 16 starts and played in 41 games for Michigan over the past four seasons, either at right tackle or as the sixth eligible lineman in the team’s supersized packages. He also stepped in as the Wolverines’ starting right tackle down the stretch of the 2023 season after Zak Zinter broke bones in his leg, holding down the role in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Rose Bowl and the National Championship Game — all wins.

The Packers had signed the 23-year-old Jones to a rookie contract on April 30 as part of their initial UDFA group. He also participated in their two-day rookie minicamp during the first weekend in May before the team ultimately placed him on the retired list.

Jones would be eligible to unretire and return to the NFL if he changes his mind in the future. The Packers would still hold his contract rights if he did come out of retirement.

Will Jordan Morgan Open 2024 Season as a Starter?

The Packers have one less rookie offensive tackle in the mix for 2024, but the primary focus — first-round pick Jordan Morgan — remains very much in play moving forward.

Despite analysts arguing that Morgan is better suited to play guard in the NFL due to his shorter arms (32 7/8 inches), the Packers have maintained that he will begin his career competing at left tackle, where he started for Arizona over the past three years. Could he challenge incumbent Rasheed Walker for the starting job as soon as Week 1? Anything’s possible considering the Packers spent a first-rounder to acquire him.

“Certainly, the longer the better, but we’ve had a bunch of guys that have played outside there with not [having] prototypical arm length and been fine,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said on April 25 after the first night of the draft. “I think what makes up for it usually is their feet and athleticism, and that’s what Jordan has.”

Even if Walker remains the starter, the Packers need the depth that Morgan provides. They moved on from five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari earlier this offseason after he missed 16 of 17 games with another knee injury in 2023. They also lost swing tackle Yosh Nijman, who signed with the Carolina Panthers in free agency.

Walker played well in relief of Bakhtiari last season, particularly down the stretch, but Morgan gives them another choice in case Walker falters. The team also signed veteran Andre Dillard shortly before the draft, giving them some genuine veteran experience.

Royce Newman Firmly on the Roster Bubble in 2024

The Packers will have to figure out where Morgan fits best in the months leading up to the start of the 2024 season in September. They will also have to decide whether guard Royce Newman — a 2021 fourth-round pick — still has a place with them at all.

Newman, 26, has progressively seen his role with the Packers diminish since starting 16 games and playing more than 1,000 snaps at right guard during his 2021 rookie season. In his most recent outing in 2023, he played just 181 total relief snaps at left guard and allowed one sack, eight hurries and 10 pressures on just 120 pass-blocking snaps. He also finished with an abysmal 43.9 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

While the Packers may still feel his experience has value to them, he has his work cut out for him if he wants to remove himself from the roster bubble heading into 2024. It does not help his case that the Packers could save about $3.11 million if they cut him from their roster before the start of the season. With Morgan and fifth-round pick Jacob Monk — an interior lineman — in the fold, it could be time for Newman to move on.

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