Packers release veteran defensive tackle Mike Daniels after failed trade efforts
GREEN BAY, Wisc. – On the eve of Matt LaFleur’s first training camp as the Green Bay Packers head coach, general manager Brian Gutekunst released veteran defensive lineman Mike Daniels to clear snaps on the field for a versatile group of younger players, and salary-cap space for a contract extension with Kenny Clark.
A source told PackersNews.com that the Packers tried to trade the 30-year-old Daniels, but when those efforts failed, they elected to release the eighth-year veteran Wednesday. The move saves the Packers $8,312,500, giving the club $15.29 million under the cap with which to work.
The Packers have nine defensive linemen listed on the roster. The team also now has one open roster spot with training camp beginning Thursday.
“I’ve been around Mike for a short period of time,” LaFleur said. “I know he’s meant a lot to this community, he’s meant a lot to this football team. Obviously, having to prepare for him in the past, I still think he’s a really good player. I wish him well.
"We feel really, really good about the group we have with Kenny Clark, with Tyler Lancaster, Lowry, Montravius Adams, (Kingsley) Keke and Fadol Brown. Just the versatility that Rashan (Gary) and Za’Darius (Smith) bring to us. So we feel like we have a group in place that can get the job done.”
Daniels, a fourth-round draft pick out of Iowa in 2012, emerged as an impact player in 2013 with 6.5 sacks. In his first three seasons, he missed just two games and totaled 14 sacks and 21 tackles for loss to earn a four-year, $42 million contract extension in 2015.
Daniels made the Pro Bowl in 2017, but the organization shifted in the type of player it looked for along the defensive front. At just over 6-foot and 310 pounds, Daniels, even with adequate arm length of 32 1/2 inches, was the shortest of all the linemen on the roster. In fact, the next-shortest were a group of four players at 6-3.
And with Gutekunst and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine taking over at the start of 2018, it became clear the club was focusing more on not just bigger athletes inside, but those who could move to different areas along the line of scrimmage to rush the passer.
“Especially on the defensive line,” Gutekunst said after drafting Gary in April. “You have to affect the quarterback. And you have to do it from multiple areas. The days of just kind of sitting in one spot and rushing the passer are kind of over, especially with the way Mike wants to use our guys on defense.
"Last year, I’m sure you guys were aware, he moved guys around. We brought guys from everywhere. I think now we have a number of guys that can move around and win one-on-one, and I think that’s important.”
With the release, it was clear to the Packers' front office and coaching staff that Daniels could not fit that role and would have to be used primarily as an interior player. Daniels missed the final six games of last season with a foot injury and did not participate in on-field work this past offseason.
As a vested veteran, Daniels is not subject to waivers and is immediately able to sign with a team.
Tom Silverstein contributed to this report.
If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.