Maybe Kurt Benkert should get into boxing. The quarterback, who made quite an impression with the Green Bay Packers, took yet another hit as the team waived him right before the start of the season. For Benkert, the hits keep coming, and he continues to withstand them.
Kurt Benkert made an impression with the Green Bay Packers
What does Benkert have to do to land an NFL job? It was deja vu all over for the quarterback out of Virginia. Benkert was released by the Packers on Tuesday after the team signed him to a deal in May when Aaron Rodgers was away from the team in a drama-filled dispute. In his three-plus months of work with the team, Benkert made an impression on both the team and its fans.
Benkert beat out Chad Kelly, Blake Bortles, and Jake Dolegala during his short run with the team. He threw a pair of interceptions in the preseason but completed 33 of 48 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown.
Getting released right before the start of the season is nothing new for Benkert. The Atlanta Falcons did the same thing to him in 2018 and 2020.
“I think last year with Covid really opened my eyes,” Benkert said in a July interview with Go Long. “Had the best camp I could possibly have. I was balling. Making plays. I was like, ‘There’s no way in hell they cut me and put me on the practice squad.’ I was like, ‘I can’t be cut. There’s no way.’
“I go into the meeting with the GM and he’s like, ‘You did everything we asked you to do. You could not have played better. We’re lucky we don’t have a preseason because we can hide you and stash you on the practice squad.’ I was like, ‘S—. OK.’ That’s the reality of the business.”
The Packers released Kurt Benkert in a risky move
Benkert didn’t set the world on fire in the preseason, but he played well enough to make the team. The Packers drafted Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft in one of GM Brian Gutekunst’s worst moves as the man in charge. It was a puzzling decision as the Packers traded up in the first round to grab a player who likely wouldn’t see the field for another three years.
It was a strange move because the Packers had just come off a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Instead of grabbing some immediate help that could push them over the hump and into the Super Bowl, Gutekunst decided to prep for the future.
The drafting of Love also didn’t sit well with Rodgers. After he showed how foolish the pick was by winning his third MVP, Rodgers stayed away from the team. He was unhappy he wasn’t included in some personnel decisions and stayed away from OTAs for the first time in his career.
Rodgers is clearly the No. 1 quarterback in Green Bay but for how long. The Packers reportedly have an agreement to trade him after the 2021 season if he wants out, despite having three years left on his deal. After Rodgers, the QB situation is ugly. Love barely got any reps in 2020 and played two of the three preseason games this year after getting hurt in one of them.
The Packers released Benkert on Tuesday. It’s a risky move, and Gutekunst is banking on the quarterback clearing waivers. If he does, he will likely be brought back to the practice squad. If he signs with another team, Love is the only viable option as Rodgers insurance.
Why not keep three quarterbacks?
Love wasn’t even the backup quarterback for the Packers in 2020. Beyond Rodgers, their backup situation is a mess. Love had done nothing to separate himself from Benkert. Like Benkert, he played well at times but also looked inexperienced with an ugly interception last week against the Bills.
Benkert belongs on the team. Green Bay needs to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, especially with Rodgers’ situation beyond 2021 uncertain. Even former Packers quarterback Don Majkowski, who wore No. 7 before Benkert, said Green Bay needed three QBs on the roster.
“Packers need to do the smart thing and keep 3 QBs!,” Majkowski posted on Twitter on Monday. “They all deserve to be on the roster.”
Unless the Packers know something about Rodgers’ future in Green Bay, the Benkert move is another odd one. If Rodgers isn’t fully committed beyond 2021, two additional quarterbacks should be on the roster. Benkert knows the system and has displayed an air of confidence and a strong arm.
In 2020, Gutekunst was thinking about the future when he drafted Love. Now, with the future of the quarterback position cloudy at best in Green Bay, he’s playing for the present, having only Love as the safety net.