GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have found some inside linebacker help. Three days before the season opener, they acquired former New York Giants starter B.J. Goodson in a trade, sources confirmed to ESPN.
The deal was first reported by NFL Network.
The Packers kept four inside linebackers on their 53-man roster, but only three of them were healthy. Starter Oren Burks is expected to miss multiple weeks because of a torn pectoral muscle. And only one of their other inside linebackers — fourth-year veteran Blake Martinez — has any starting experience. The other two are rookie seventh-round pick Ty Summers and special teams player James Crawford.
Given that the trade went down just three days before the Packers open the season against the Bears, they probably can’t get Goodson ready to play this week.
Summers led the NFL in preseason tackles with 30 but also missed more than his share, especially in the first two games.
“Obviously, Ty had a really good preseason and kind of stepped up and made us feel pretty comfortable about keeping him around,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said a day after the roster cuts to 53. “I also think if you look at our history the amount of times we actually have two inside linebackers on the field is another thing. As you guys know and I’ve said this before, this roster is 365 days, living and breathing, so things change and we’re always evaluating where we’re at. But Ty did a nice job, hopefully we’ll get Burksie back here soon and then obviously Crawford’s been a pretty standout special teams player for us. I feel good about that room, but again, the roster’s always kind of in flux.”
The Packers will have to make room on their roster for Goodson. It’s possible they could place Burks on injured reserve with the hope that he can return later in the season, but he would have to miss the first eight weeks of the season and indications are his recovery time will be shorter than that.
Goodson, who started 20 games (including 13 last season) in his three seasons with the Giants, was drafted by the previous regime led by general manager Jerry Reese in the fourth round out of Clemson in 2016. The Giants now have just 10 players remaining from their roster two years ago when Dave Gettleman was hired.
Goodson’s role decreased greatly last year after the Giants traded for veteran middle linebacker Alec Ogletree. They were never an ideal pairing considering their similar skillsets.
The writing was on the wall for Goodson this summer, when he spent time working with the third team after he was jumped on the depth chart by fifth-round rookie Ryan Connelly. But he played well in the preseason recording nine tackles and a sack in the final two games.
It wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster even though he made the initial 53. The Giants wanted a backup linebacker who could contribute on special teams. That was not Goodson’s specialty. They signed former Carolina Panthers linebacker David Mayo to take his place. Mayo has ties to Gettleman and current Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey from their time together in Carolina.
ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan contributed to this report.