Brian Gutekunst has trade for a linebacker. No, it is not Khalil Mack. The Packers have been hit hard by injury at the linebacker position. Gutekunst has traded from a position of strength to fill a need at linebacker. The Packers have traded cornerback Lenzy Pipkins for Indianapolis Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison. Pipkins could end up starting for the Colts, where in Green Bay he would be in the dime package and special teams.
The linebacker unit has been a walking wounded group through training camp. Veteran Jake Ryan was lost for the season when he tore his ACL. His replacement, rookie Oren Burks suffered a shoulder injury this past weekend in warmups. This has left the Packers very thin at inside linebacker. Brian Gutekunst has to do something to provide depth at the position.
With the addition of draft picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, and bringing back Tramon Williams as a free agent, plus the return of last years’ rookie Kevin King, Pipkins had been pushed down the depth and if he made the team he mainly play special teams. Pipkins made the team in 2017 as an undrafted rookie and played in 12 regular season games, and had 14 tackles and one pass breakup.
Antonio Morrison on the other hand is entering his third year in the NFL. Morrison was a starter last season for the Indianapolis Colts, recorded 108 tackles and one pass breakup. He will provide depth and experience at an inside linebacker position that desperately needs it. Morrison has since fallen down the depth chart in Indy when they drafted three linebackers in April. Now in Green Bay, he will compete with Ahmad Thomas and Greer Martini for a position and playing time with Oren Burks. Gutekunst did not make this trade just to cut Morrison, so I fully expect him to make the team and play a role throughout the season. Now, if he doesn’t make the roster, this is a low risk move for the Packers, as they would owe him nothing if they end up cutting him.
By making this move, Gutekunst, Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, are demonstrating confidence in their young cornerbacks.
This wasn’t the first trade that Gutekunst has done. This offseason he trade former starting cornerback Damarious Randall for quarterback DeShone Kizer. In these trades he adds depth and help to positions of need with players who have been starters and could provide experience. Expect more of this from Gutekunst as he continues to improve the roster and bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag