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Several Former Packers Try Their Luck with New Pro League

LaDarius Gunter

LaDarius Gunter (36) celebrates with safety Josh Jones (27) after recovering a fumble in the second quarter during preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Alliance of American Football (AAF), a new 8-team professional football league, presented its first games last weekend. The league consists of the following teams: Birmingham Iron, Arizona Hotshots, San Antonio Commanders, Orlando Apollos, Memphis Express, Salt Lake City Stallions, Atlanta Legends and San Diego Fleet.

All the teams are located in the south half of the country, except the Salt Lake team. All the home cities house at least one other pro sports team; only two of the cities, however, are home to an NFL team: Atlanta and San Diego.

Several of the head coaches are well known. Former Bears’ great Mike Singletary heads up the Express. San Diego’s Mike Martz was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2000 through 2005.

Orlando’s Steve Spurrier is the legendary college coach, primarily with Florida from 1990-2001. He was also the Heisman-winning quarterback for the Gators in 1966. He’s been in this situation before, as he coached the upstart Tampa Bay Bandits in the defunct USFL (1983-85), and he also briefly coached the NFL’s Redskins (2002-03).

Kevin Koyle has a long association as an assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as a slew of college teams. The Stallions’ Dennis Erickson has coached for at least a dozen college or NFL teams. Birmingham’s Tim Lewis has been an assistant coach with a half-dozen NFL units. Rick Neuheisel has coached with three top-notch college programs: UCLA. Colorado, and Washington. The Commanders’ Mike Riley has a long college coaching resume, and he was once head coach of the San Diego Chargers (1999-2001).

The league launched its inaugural, 10-week season on February 9. A primary goal of the founders of the league is to provide entertaining games for television viewers. The early reviews have been positive, and the TV ratings for last weekend were surprisingly good.

Each of about 210 players signed a three-year contract worth $250,000 (with a $70,000 salary in 2019), and with some additional performance-based and fan interaction incentives. Sorry, I don’t know if players can be released from those contracts if an NFL team wants to sign them, or if they have signed up simply to earn something rather than nothing out of their football skills.

Former Packers on AAF Rosters

Over 20 league players have had some affiliation with the Packers, though for many the connection was minimal, such as briefly being on the practice squad. There are, however, a few names that fans probably remember.

Cornerback LaDarious Gunter got almost all of his playing time with Green Bay in 2016, when he started 15 regular season games, and registered 54 tackles, 12 passes defended, and two forced fumbles. In the wild card game of the 2016 post season, Gunter held the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. to four catches and 28 yards. In the Pack’s conference championship game loss, however, star receiver Julio Jones had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns – largely when covered by Gunter. After the Pack released him one game into the 2017 season (strange in itself!), he spent the rest of that year and part of 2018 with the Panthers, but getting no playing time.

Jayrone Elliott

Linebacker Jayrone Elliott played in 38 games for Green Bay from 2014-16. Though he never was a starter, in that time he recorded 57 tackles, four sacks, and one interception. Just prior to the start of the 2017 season Jayrone was traded to Dallas, and he also spent time with the Saints in 2018. In neither instance, however, did he get an opportunity to play.

Carl Bradford

Linebacker Carl Bradford (Arizona) was a fourth-round draft pick of the Pack in 2014. Bradford was inactive all that year, then was released during the Packers’ final cuts in both 2015 and 2016. In 2017 he was waived or released by the Bills, Bears, and Bengals. His total stat line with Green Bay was four games played in, one tackle.

Charles Johnson

Receiver Charles Johnson (Orlando), a 7th-round pick in 2013, was picked off the Pack’s practice squad by Cleveland a month into the season, but got no action until going to the Vikings. From 2014-16, Johnson had 60 catches for 834 yards and two touchdowns. In 2017, he went nowhere with the Panthers, and the same was true in 2018 with the Jets.

Former Packer Chris Odom

Defensive end Chris Odom, who went undrafted in 2017, played in seven games for Green Bay in 2017, and recording six tackles. He was then cut by the team after the 2018 training camp.

Donatello Brown

Cornerback Donatello Brown, undrafted in 2017, got on the Packers’ roster in November of that year, but without recording any statistics. He was waived by the team on September 1, 2018.

Postscript

Total Packers was pretty keen on LaDarius Gunter, and was disappointed he was released, in 2017. Maybe LaDarius is too slow to single-handedly cover the speediest deep threats. Maybe he doesn’t have the talent to be a starting CB for several years. But haven’t the past two seasons shown that Gunter can shadow a receiver as well as any Packers’ CB who’s played?

At the least, and going simply by the eye test, I’d say Gunter would have been a valuable reserve – and could have made a crucial difference – on the last two Packers rosters. I hope he gets another chance in the big leagues.

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Rob Born

The old trial attorney never lost a case – he misplaced a few, but those files were found eventually. His arguments are water-tight, his logic unassailable, and his verdicts non-appealable. Resistance is futile.

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19 Comments

  1. Ash Paladium February 12, 2019

    Gunther is a whole lot better than Kevin”Both Shoulders”King. He has better tackling skills and doesn’t pussy out on plays like King. Pack need to cut their losses and dump King. He is finished .They also need to stop being cheap by signing ex crap players who were never good to begin with. Like Davon House and Tramon Williams who gave up the winning td in the Seattle Championship loss meltdown. Watch the guy. He gives up big plays constantly. Kentrell Brice, Nick Perry, Montravious Adams, Josh Jones, Kevin King, among others need to be shown the door. Amazing how badly this defense lacks explosive, get-at-it guys. There are maybe 3-4 good def players on the Packers. Thank Ted Thompson for that and Mark Murphy for letting the org get to this. Waste of a Hall of Fame QB’s career.

    Reply
    1. Ferris February 12, 2019

      Kevin King sucking is not news. He was doomed from minute 1 after he was drafted when they passed on TJ Watt. He’s horrible and everyone who reads these articles knows it. No need to review any game action.

  2. Kato February 12, 2019

    San Diego no longer has a pro team

    Reply
  3. MMSUCKS February 12, 2019

    I am with you on LaDarious Gunter Rob. I always believed that he was a very good backup CB with enough talent to be an occasional starter when needed (especially in certain packages). Obviously, the Packers felt otherwise . . . this comes as NO surprise to many of us. The player personnel assessment in Green Bay is abysmal quite often. Much luck to all of the players in the new league! If Green Bay continues their assault on the NFL cellar . . . perhaps they can become part of this new league! For as long as Mark Murphy remains in Green Bay, this silly statement will continue to grow in validity.

    Reply
    1. Stiggy February 13, 2019

      Hes playing in the aaf . .no pro team signed him. I suppose the Patriots chiefs rams and saints are also stupid franchises for not carrying the likes of ladarius prime time gunter.

      He was an udfa.. with a season of experience… and made Julio Jones look better than rice.

      He COULD be a depth player for a team… but your 5th corner is generally a project/potential player. You do not keep corners on your roster with the ceiling of “emergency starter” which is pretty much what gunter is.

      I understand being pessimistic after the last couple years but seriously we are upset that ladarius gunter isnt anchoring our secondary?

      I know the Atlanta Falcons would sure love to see him sign with a division rival.

      So do we want the packers to bring in talent or keep ladarius unsigned by 32 nfl franchises gunter.

      1. PF4L February 13, 2019

        Whoa… :)

        Go get you some Stiggy!!

  4. Big B February 12, 2019

    This was more painful than enlightening- another reminder of Packers failed draft picks and player acquisitions. Watch Cole Madison show up on the Salt Lake Stallions. Murphy waited 3 years too long to terminate TT. After the Packers debacle against SEA in the NFC championship and the Falcons meltdown against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, with their resultant several years of mediocrity, I wonder if a team that has a cataclysmic collapse should shake things up and make drastic changes. It almost seems as though that massive breakdown can’t be overcome by maintaining the status quo. What would have happened if TT and MM, and Dan Quinn were released and a new culture infused?

    Reply
    1. Howard February 13, 2019

      When was TT terminated by Murphy? Last I heard TT still gets a check and we should soon be blessed by his presence in The Packer draft room.

      Complacency and no accountability were formed and developed by Murphy in Packer football operations. Murphy still feeds the beasts. Hell even Murphy acknowledges their presence. Murphy just can’t see he is their caretaker.

      1. Cheese February 13, 2019

        Damn straight, Howard.

        1. PF4L February 13, 2019

          I wonder if Ted’s contract is up. But hell….who knows, maybe Murphy extended it another year as thanks for showing up to the draft last year.

          1. Howard February 13, 2019

            The only reason I believe TT is still employed is TT is still listed as Senior Advisor to Football Operations on the Packers site.

            The Packers are fairly good about adding names and taking them off the Packers site as soon as contracts are signed or terminated. The assistant coaches added last week have been listed on the Packers site for a few days.

          2. PF4L February 13, 2019

            I thought his new made up job title per Mark Murphy was “Senior Adviser to the General Manager”. So it’s now actually “Senior Adviser to Football Operations?”

            But didn’t Murphy put himself in charge of football operations, so it begs the question, who is he advising, Gute or Murphy?

            But then again, Murphy also said the new GM would have the full power of GM’s before him, until a week later that is.

            Before last year Mark Murphy had no (zero) Executive NFL football operation experience, then gives himself full control. Am i the only one scratching my head over that?

            I think Murphy makes this shit up as he goes along. Which explains all the missteps.

            It’s getting very close to the time we may have to stop giving up hope that Murphy be removed. I say this because he is still there in full power.

            The responsibility of this team ultimately lies behind the curtain. The people, with the power to say….STOP!!…ENOUGH!!

            I’m afraid that this group of people share the same management style as the people under them practice.

            Do nothing….as it keeps getting worse.

          3. Howard February 13, 2019

            It’s FUBAR.

          4. PF4L February 13, 2019

            So what are Murphy’s expectations for 2018, a season that will mark the Packers’ 100th year of football?

            “Well, we are in Titletown,” Murphy said.

  5. PF4L February 12, 2019

    Johnny football and Jeff Janis would wreck that league.

    Reply
    1. Kato February 13, 2019

      You are fucking right they would

    2. Stiggy February 13, 2019

      You would think half the posters here are upset the packers didnt pay samkon gado like Marshall Faulk based on their distorted memory of prime time gunter.

      1. PF4L February 13, 2019

        OUCH…Stiggy fires more shots over the bow.

        That boy got a trigger finger.

        1. Stiggy February 13, 2019

          I’m pointing out self inflicted wounds more than anything..

          Packers suck!! They have no talent!!! Why so many undrafted free agents???

          Next post: why arent we keeping undrafted free agents who run slower than some tight ends!!!

          Now… I watched Julio Jones vs the packers when he set freaking nfl records. I watched Julio Jones against the Panthers 3rd string corner this year… the difference? The Panthers 3rd stringer was within 15 yards of him.

          Gunter was a nice story for a couple games.. but good god… he isnt an nfl player.. he doesn’t even have the pedigree of samkon gado.

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