Aaron Nagler and Ryan Wood discuss what's next for both Letroy Guion and the Green Bay Packers after it was announced that the defensive tackle has been suspended four games for a performance-enhancing substances violation. (March 7, 2017)
GREEN BAY – Up until Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers held out hope that defensive tackle Letroy Guion might be able to learn from his mistakes, stay in shape during his four-game suspension and return with something to offer the football team.
But that all ended when the Packers announced they were releasing Guion.
The move came as a big surprise to many of his teammates, who noticed he wasn’t present at the 11:45 a.m. practice but weren’t sure why. Some of them found out when reporters informed them the Packers had issued a news release during practice announcing the move.
“I didn’t know,” veteran end Ricky Jean Francois said. “I just thought something was going on that he wasn’t at practice. Now I’m walking in and you’re the first person telling me.”
The most logical explanation for the decision was that Guion was facing additional NFL-levied discipline stemming from his June 21 arrest in Hawaii for driving under the influence. However, the case is still pending and the league wasn’t expected to rule on punishment until it was over.
His blood alcohol level was found to be 0.086 when he was arrested. The legal limit in Hawaii is 0.08.
It’s possible the Packers became aware of something else that led them to believe he would face further suspension beyond the four games levied against him in March for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
A DUI conviction likely would have resulted in the league suspending him for additional games, but so would a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs or other illegal substances. If Guion had tested positive again for a PED while in Stage Two of the program, he would automatically be suspended 10 games and the Packers would have been notified of it.
Just last week, general manager Ted Thompson had said, “We’re not there yet,” when asked why the team hadn’t cut ties with Guion, so it’s likely something changed. Whatever the case, the Packers finally decided it was time to move on.
Thompson did not issue a statement and Guion’s release was announced after the Packers GM had conducted his weekly training camp news conference. Coach Mike McCarthy had also had his news conference, so the earliest either man will be heard from is after the exhibition game against Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Guion’s defensive linemates were surprised to hear he was released and said they thought he had played hard during camp despite knowing he was going to be suspended for the first four games.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him,” nose tackle Kenny Clark said. “It’s shocking. It’s crazy. Great teammate, though. I just wish the best for him. He’s a great leader for our young defensive line. He came out there and played his heart out. I’ve not nothing but respect for him.”
Jean Francois, who joined the team in the offseason, said he and Guion had known each other since high school and that he found Guion to be an asset on the defensive line. He said he hoped Guion could get back into the league and play football again.
Guion’s departure doesn’t change a whole lot as far as the defensive line goes. He wouldn’t have been available to the team for another two months and so Thompson was going to have to prepare the 53-man roster as though the veteran wasn’t going to be around this year.
The Packers are set with Mike Daniels, Dean Lowry and Clark starting upfront and Jean Francois as a key backup. They are hoping promising rookie Montravius Adams will return from foot surgery in September but will need more depth to make it through the season.
They have seen a lot of growth from second-year nose tackle Brian Price and will be watching to see if tackle Christian Ringo makes a jump during the exhibition games.
Guion’s time with the Packers was marred by arrests and suspension.
He was first arrested while on the team’s roster in February 2015 and charged with two felony counts for possession of a 9-mm semi-automatic handgun and two bags of marijuana that contained a total of 357 grams. He later pleaded no contest to possession of marijuana and paid a $5,000 fine. The charge of having a gun while committing a felony was dropped, and a plea deal prevented Guion from having a conviction on his record.
The NFL later assessed Guion with a three-game suspension in 2015 for violating the substance abuse policy in connection with his arrest.
Guion played in 44 regular-season games in his three seasons with the Packers, starting in 35.