GREEN BAY - General manager Brian Gutekunst left nothing to chance in addressing perhaps the biggest need on the Green Bay Packers' roster, making a trade Monday to add an inside linebacker to what remained a thin depth chart entering Thursday’s opener at the Chicago Bears.
The Packers are acquiring New York Giants linebacker B.J. Goodson, a source confirmed to PackersNews. The paperwork was still being finalized Monday morning, but when it goes through the Packers will have added a big, bruising linebacker who was a starter the past two seasons.
The Packers created room for Goodson on their 53-man roster by releasing inside linebacker James Crawford.
A source said the team is preparing for Oren Burks (pec) to miss about the first four weeks. which explains their interest in acquiring an inside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said it would be unlikely that any player acquired so close to the season opener would be ready this week, so the Packers probably favored Summers over Crawford because he is a better inside linebacker and will be needed against the Bears.
“It would be rare that you would give a player a lot on their plate," Pettine said. "It would be more of a package or situational thing, stuff that you felt comfortable putting him out there.”
It’s the second straight year the Packers traded for an inside linebacker before their opener. A year ago, they traded for Indianapolis Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison. Goodson is cut from the same mold, a run-stopping linebacker with good size at 6-1, 241 pounds, who can provide snaps on early downs.
With Burks sidelined and Crawford (who had been in the concussion protocol before being let go), seventh-round rookie Summers was the Packers’ only other healthy inside linebacker behind starter Blake Martinez entering Thursday's opener. It’ll be difficult for Goodson to provide much help in a short week, but he at least gives the Packers a modicum of depth.
Goodson, a fourth-round pick in 2016, started all seven games he played in 2017 before an ankle injury ended his season. He returned last year to start 13 of his 15 games, playing 513 snaps.
Though limited in coverage, Goodson is an active tackler and has some range against the run. He had 18 tackles against the Dallas Cowboys in his first career start in 2018. The Giants also used him in blitz situations.
It’s unclear what the Packers traded for Goodson. The Giants had planned to release him, but a source said multiple teams were vying to sign him on the open market. If not for the trade, Gutekunst would have risked losing Goodson to another team.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this story.