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Mike Daniels Failed the New Fitness Standards

It’s good to be back, now that the long-awaited training camp has commenced.

Even from my vantage point 1,922 miles west of Lambeau Field (by car), the team’s new emphasis on athleticism and fitness is obvious to me. The McCarthy-Thompson laissez faire days are over. The LaFleur-Gutekunst days have arrived. The new Packers expect their players to be as fit and athletic as possible. Mike Daniels didn’t pay heed to the message.

Back on May 5, here’s what I had to say as an aside concerning the Packers’ veteran defensive lineman:

“Speaking of Daniels, he packs 310 pounds onto a six-foot frame. Too much of that weight is not muscle. . .That hasn’t cut it, though, in the NFL for a couple of decades. My opinion is that Daniels would be more effective if he dropped about 20 pounds, thereby gaining some quickness and agility. . .. I’ll be watching to see if LaFleur puts Mike on the scales daily until he drops well below 300 pounds.”

I got no feedback on that critique at the time, but the Packers’ surprise decision to release Daniels would seem to have a lot to do with Daniels’ physique. In fact, the timing of the release makes me wonder if the Packers did indeed have a talk with Daniels about the weight they wanted him to be at when he reported to camp. The release was first reported on July 24 – the day Packers players reported for training camp.

Mike Daniels OTA 2016

June 6, 2016; Green Bay, WS, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels (76) during the team’s organized team activities. Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Don’t expect to see much discussion of Daniels’ weight in the press. Fat shaming is as big a taboo in the NFL as it is at a beauty pageant. Coach McCarthy denied Eddie Lacy’s weight problem for three years. My new Sports Illustrated is a celebration of cover girl Serena Williams and her beefy body.

While Serena has proven the exception to the rule, by excelling at tennis despite a non-ideal physique, Daniels’ stats suggest the opposite. Though he was limited to just 10 games with a foot injury in 2018, his total for the year was 26 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and 14 quarterback pressures. By the way, most of the very overweight people I’ve known have been highly susceptible to foot injuries.

Daniels had a year left on the four-year, $41 million extension he signed in December 2015. Two days after his release, he signed a one-year, $9.1 million contract with the Detroit Lions – so we should be seeing a motivated Daniels at Lambeau on October 14 and in Detroit for the final regular-season matchup on December 29.

While I too have admired Daniels for his great effort, any athlete making $9 or $10 million per year owes it to his employer, and his teammates, to maintain a high level of fitness.

Daniels didn’t display such commitment or discipline. I hope other players take heed to what the Packers’ new front office has signaled: effort on game day is great, but if you want to play for this team you need to practice dedication and professionalism all year long.

Daniels had a $10.7 million salary cap amount going into 2019. Because $2.4 million is kept on the books due to a prorated signing bonus, the Packers netted $8,312,500 in added salary cap space.

Underlying the entire decision, the Packers arguably have adequate depth on the defensive line: Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, James Looney, Fadol Brown – and a very athletic rookie in Keke Kinglsey, out of Texas A&M.

I’d say that moving on from the 30-year-old Daniels was a smart decision by the Packers.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Capt. Fritter July 28, 2019

    Moving on may have been smart but how could they not have worked a trade for at least a low round draft pick to an obscure AFC team. There may be a milk man in Bugtustle who didn’t see Daniels signing with a division rival.

    1. Ferris July 28, 2019

      Absolutely correct…if they got something for D. Randall you would think they could get a 6th or 7th for Daniels. Maybe other teams thought he was too fat as well. Detroit laying out 9.1M will either be really smart or really stupid. He wanted to play for a winner until he saw their offers.

    2. Kato July 28, 2019

      I am assuming the problem was the cap number, the team that trades for him takes on his salary. Taking on that, in addition to giving up a draft pick probably was too much I am guessing, especially knowing the Packers were motivated to drop that contract

  2. Mitch Anthony July 28, 2019

    Don’t forget Olive Sagapolu. That guy can do him some back flips. How’s that for a measurable?

  3. Deepsky July 28, 2019

    There were many times last year during games where I wondered what had happened to Daniels. Clark was making plays. By the time November came along Clark had more than twice as many tackles and sacks. Daniels was just a guy and then he got injured. Daniels is only 2-3 years younger than Matthews who everone has ragged on as being past his prime the last few years. I think the Packers and the league just didn’t think it was worth paying a guy like that $10 million a year.

    I would have liked to have kept him another year, but it’s not that shocking to me.

  4. Kato July 28, 2019

    Physical condition might have played roll, but I think other factors influenced this move. Lack of recent production, being fairly polarizing in the locker room regarding his outspoken nature, and probably biggest of all, they liked what they had in Dean Lowry. Daniels was in the last year of his contract, and is 30. He was not in the Packers future plans like Dean Lowry apparently is. Lowry is now under team control for 4 more years at a fairly affordable salary, he has had some production in limited playing time.

    Speaking of fitness, Rashan Gary? 10% body fat….. Hopefully he can play football, the work he puts in to being a superior athlete is not a problem.

    1. PF4L July 28, 2019

      Besides the Smith brothers and our boy Billy Turners 9 million dollars, my eyes will be on Rashan Gary to see what a rare #12 pick in the draft nets the Packers as far translating in talent to this next level. Should a #12 pick be a starter in this league, or is that asking too G D much? Maybe he’ll be a 3 year development player huddling up next to Spriggs to stay warm, or on the I R. I don’t know….but grab the popcorn cheese heads because the b s stops in about 5 weeks and reality rears it’s head.

  5. PF4L July 28, 2019

    I read this article and a couple things hit me….Daniels is a fat fuck. No one is more surprised to read that than i am, i’m pretty much in shock.
    In related news….Mike and his wife Heaven are expecting their 5th child and Mike is reportedly very nervous about this and the anxiety with his new team. He is hoping he doesn’t miss too many games this season after he gives birth.

    Serena Williams had an ideal body, for men’s tennis. 99% of her success came with an ideal body (before recent motherhood). She was ripped and 2-3 times stronger than the rest of the woman tennis players, probably stronger than 80% of the men tennis players.

    I do have to acknowledge a statement of fact. Concerning Howard’s very, very recent post proclaiming overweight players being highly susceptible to foot injuries, like just days ago. Welcome to my world Howard.

    1. Howard July 29, 2019

      I do think the foot had a factor in the cut, but as I said in March Daniels just does not fit the size requirements Pettine wants to see in a 3-4 D lineman.

      Howard March 12, 2019
      Some will not like this, I’m not sure Mike Daniels fits what Pettine wants to do. In addition Daniels has never fit the size needs for a DE or nose tackle in a 3-4. If you can believe the rumors the Packers went after Malik Jackson for a reason. Releasing Daniels gives the team approximately 8 mil. In cap savings.

    2. PF4L July 29, 2019

      Yes Sir…I’ll even go a step further, i’d wager more than a few dollars, that at the time you made that post, they were already thinking of a exit strategy for Daniels.

  6. NobodysBurfect July 28, 2019

    That headline is straight click bait Rob (or whoever concocted it – hope it wasn’t you Rob because you’ve consistently been the best writer here). He didn’t fail a physical. He’s just an aging, short, large guy with a big mouth who’s on the downside of his career – while Lowry and others are (theoretically) showing promise. You can support the new GM and coach’s position without headlining the article to making it sound like he literally failed a physical.

    And I’m not a Daniel’s fan – he’s the corniest guy in the NFL.

    1. PF4L July 30, 2019

      Yea…i thought the same after glancing at the article. Then i figured it was a new article, which is a good day in this place.

  7. PF4L July 29, 2019

    I think the common denominator in releasing a player for 31 teams usually comes down to cost vs. production. I don’t think anyone would give a hoot what Daniels physique was if he was destructive, giving you 8-10 sacks, a few forced fumbles and 9 tackles for loss a season. Maybe the Packers are just starting to figure out this cost vs production thing, maybe.

  8. Publius Jr. July 29, 2019

    I remember Les Steckel of the Vikings putting the Bud Grant team he inherited on a diet and athletic regimen. The Veterans on the team balked at the approach and the ViQueens stunk up the field. Les Steckel was gone the following year. Daniels’ salary was the issue not this weight. I give Gutekunst one more year and he is gone.

    1. PF4L July 29, 2019

      You may be right, but imo, he won’t be gone if Murphy is still there. I could possibly see him being let go if this season doesn’t bear any fruit by a new President. But i doubt Murphy lets him go after signing Gute to 5 years, unless of course it saves his own ass. I don’t know, maybe Murphy would fire Gute, and keep paying him for a few years as he sits at home. That seems to be business as usual under Murphy.
      I am not anti Gute. But i said at the time of his hiring that he had a huge job, he had to reverse the years of regression of this team and do it in short order. I also said he had to hit it in the draft and free agency with little room for error. I don’t think i’d call his 2018 draft a success, and his free agent signings last year surely didn’t win us any games. His player acquisitions in 2019 can save him or sink him. This season will be entertaining, one way or another.

  9. Skinny July 29, 2019

    Wonder if the Pack have the balls to cut Mason Crosby? Isnt he due 5 million this year which is ridiculous for a kicker? But new ST coach has been talking up this other kicker on the roster.

    1. Ferris July 30, 2019

      Here is to hoping. He’s never been clutch. 80% career kicker.
      Cody Double Doink ranks 29 spots higher on this list.

    2. Kato August 1, 2019

      I am sorry, but you people hoping they move on from Crosby are fools. We saw the struggle of the bears last year in their kicking situation. Green Bay is probably the toughest place to kick in the NFL, besides maybe New England. Has Crosby had some rough games? Absolutely. Do me a favor and look at his postseason field goal percentage and get back to me about “not being clutch.” Speaking of playoffs, go back and watch the Packers playoff victory against the Cowboys and tell me who accounted for the winning points as time ran out. Gostkowski has a higher career field goal percentage than Crosby for New England, yet the guy has missed some pretty big kicks in his past couple of super bowls. Kickers don’t grow on trees the way you act like they do.

  10. KILLER August 1, 2019

    Hit job here. Hit job Rob. New nickname for you Rob. Hit Job Rob.

    You know, most the headlines in the National Enquirer are more accurate than your title. Your content also.

    He’s six foot and 310 but that does not mean he is out of shape. That was his size years ago as well and other players play fine at that size. Width and depth and bone structure determine if someone if overweight, not just simple height.

    As per productivity Daniels only played 10 games, was in a new D, and the D coordinator only let him play less than 40% of the snaps. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/2018-snap-counts.htm

    Considering missing 6 games and only allowed on the field less than 40% of the time and with a secondary that could not cover and OLBs who could not rush the passer, Daniels getting 5 tackles behind the line, 26 tackles, 2 sacks, and 14 QB pressures is almost wildly productive for a DT. 16 games at 80% snaps and Daniels would have ended up with a stat line like 13 tackles behind the line, 5.5 sacks, 70 tackles, and 40 QB pressures. Extremely good for a 4-3 DT… but great for a 3-4 DT!

    My favorite part of the article, among very few good parts granted, was “By the way, most of the very overweight people I’ve known have been highly susceptible to foot injuries.” I just pictured all these fat people limping back and forth all around Hit Job Rob. I got quite a laugh out of that.

    This article though is symptomatic of the entire Packers fan base (albeit with exceptions). Always savage the player on their way out the door. Don’t thank them or recall the good. Try your best to ruin their reputation. Such a Packers fan thing.