GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - On the eve of the start of training camp practice the Green Bay Packers announced the surprise release of veteran defensive lineman Mike Daniels.
Daniels’ 2018 season was shortened due to a foot injury which caused him to miss the remaining six games.
The decision to release Daniels allows Green Bay to save more than $8 million in cap space. But was that the only reason Daniels was released?
Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur and General Manager Brian Gutekunst both spoke to the media on Wednesday.
Both Gutekunst and LaFleur thanked Daniels for his time with the Packers but said there were many factors in the decision to cut him.
“You know obviously there's choices that you have to make,” Gutekunst said Wednesday. “Some are more long-term choices that you have to make looking out forward. We feel pretty good about the depth that we have in our defensive line room right now and these things are never easy but we wanted to make sure we had some flexibility moving into the years ahead.”
Earlier in the day, LaFleur mirrored Gutekunst’s reaction.
“I’ve been around Mike (Daniels) for a short period of time. I know he’s meant a lot to this community. He’s meant a lot to this football team,” LaFleur said.
“Having to prepare for him in the past, I still think he is a really good player and I wish him well. But we feel really, really good about the group that we have with Kenny Clark. With (Tyler) Lancaster. (Dean) Lowry. Montravius Adams. (Kingsley) Keke. Fadol Brown and some of the versatility that Rashan (Gary) and Za’Darius (Smith) bring to us. We feel like we have a group in place that can get the job done.”
LaFleur said the decision did not come as a surprise to him due to the constant communication he and Gutekunst have.
“You always want to keep good players. Unfortunately that’s part of this business. There’s tough decisions that you have to make. The one thing about Gutey and myself is that we are in constant communication. There’s never a decision that’s made personnel-wise that’s a surprise to me,” LaFleur said.
But why wait until the day before training camp? Especially since Daniels spent the offseason rehabbing in Green Bay with the Packers’ trainers.
‘There’s a few factors involved in that. Mike was rehabbing from a foot injury suffered during the season and I think also there was some – quite frankly there was some trade conversations going on and those kind of came apart the last couple of weeks here and that was part of it,” Gutekunst said.
Gutekunst have had ongoing trade conversations before Daniels released. He was also asked if he offered Daniels less money to stay but did not comment.
Depth was a factor. The team announced an extension to defensive lineman Dean Lowry with an expected contract extension upcoming for rising star Kenny Clark.
“We are pretty excited about the guys we got. Mike is a very good player. You never want to see a good player walk out the door but there’s also guys that are eager and ready to have their shot and we excited to see what they can do,” Gutekunst said.