The Green Bay Packers have waived Ego Ferguson, with the defensive tackle failing his physical two days after he was claimed on waivers.
While with Chicago, Ferguson missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.
Because Letroy Guion will start the season with a four-game suspension, the transaction could change how the Packers will handle the defensive line in this month's draft. For veteran players, they have Mike Daniels, 2016 draft picks Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, and free-agent pickup Ricky Jean Francois. Christian Ringo played 76 snaps and Brian Price played 10 snaps early in the season before going to the practice squad.
In other news, running back Don Jackson signed his exclusive-rights free-agent tender. He joins Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael in what will be a new-look backfield. Jackson, an undrafted free agent last year, was called up from the practice squad due to injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks. In his first game, against Chicago, he sustained an injured hand. Then, he suffered a knee injury that sent him to injured reserve. In three games, he carried 10 times for 32 yards.
Monday's story: The Green Bay Packers gave up on Mike Pennel following his suspension and will be without Letroy Guion with a season-opening four-game suspension. The Packers replaced them both this offseason without investing a single draft pick.
After signing capable veteran Ricky Jean Francois on March 23, Green Bay claimed Ego Ferguson off waivers from Chicago on Monday.
Ferguson was the Bears’ second-round pick in 2014, going No. 51 overall — two picks before Green Bay grabbed receiver Davante Adams. While Adams looks like a budding standout in line for a big second contract, Ferguson was left looking for work on Friday when he was waived by Chicago. He played in only 20 of a possible 48 regular-season games and made just one start, tallying 36 tackles (two sacks). After missing a total of 12 games in 2015 — a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy paired with a knee injury — he missed the entire 2016 season with a shoulder injury. Thus, he will arrive in Green Bay having last played on Oct. 11, 2015.
If Ferguson can stay healthy and play up to his ability — big “ifs,” obviously — the Packers would have an incredibly deep defensive line. Veteran standout Mike Daniels and last year’s first-round pick, Kenny Clark, will be the lead pair, with Jean Francois, 2016 fourth-round pick Dean Lowry and Ferguson in reserve. Once Guion returns from his suspension, the Packers potentially would face a difficult roster decision. Would they keep six linemen on a defense that plays most snaps with only two on the field? Would the Packers give up on the twice-suspended Guion, who will turn 30 on June 21? Would Ferguson, who won’t turn 26 until Sept. 22, merit sticking around?
With Daniels, Clark, Jean Francois, Lowry, Guion and Ferguson, the Packers probably won’t need to invest a pick on the defensive line — noteworthy considering the glaring needs at cornerback, outside linebacker, guard and running back.
Assuming Ferguson makes the team, the Packers would have five experienced defensive linemen on the opening roster, even without Guion. That stands in contract to how last season started. Last year, with Pennel serving his first suspension, the Packers' only veterans were Daniels and Guion.
The Packers inherited the final year of Ferguson’s four-year rookie contract. He is due a base salary of $980,981, though none of that money is guaranteed.
At the Combine in 2014, Ferguson measured in at 6-foot-2 7/8 and 315 pounds, with 32 1/2-inch arms and 10 3/4-inch hands. He put up 24 reps on the 225-pound bench press, then ran a 5.10-second 40-yard dash at LSU’s pro day.
Ferguson and Jean Francois, 30, played at LSU, though not together. Ferguson appeared in 38 games in three seasons for the Tigers, starting his final 12 contests as a redshirt junior in 2013. He had one sack and five tackles for losses among 85 total tackles.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.