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Packers Sign Quarterbacks to Futures Contracts

One of them spent time catching passes from Tom Brady as a receiver for the Patriots during training camp in 2019.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers’ will have at least three quarterbacks on their offseason roster.

The team signed incumbent third quarterback to a futures contract and did the same with Danny Etling, who spent a week on the practice squad in December.

Benkert played two kneel-down snaps at the end of a Dec. 12 victory over Chicago. It was his first real game since the Military Bowl on Dec. 28, 2017 – a span of 1,445 days. An undrafted free agent in 2018, he signed with Green Bay in May and spent most of this season on the practice squad.

“I didn’t think it would take this long,” he said of suiting up for a regular-season game. “In 2019, I got injured in preseason so was out that entire year. That was the only year that I was in Atlanta that Matt Ryan missed any games at all. So, there was that, and then obviously Matt Schaub had been there for a while. So, just kind of what the role was. Never know, man. Just always got to stay ready, though.”

In Green Bay, he had to learn a new offense and new footwork.

“It was really hard, at first,” he said of the mechanics discussed in the accompanying video. “I felt like I was a baby giraffe when I first got here. I felt so uncomfortable. When I came here for OTAs, Aaron wasn’t here doing it so I wasn’t seeing somebody do it like that, like how they want it to be done, I guess you could say. He’s so good with his feet and I don’t think he gets enough credit for that. How he can speed up, slow down, anticipate. He’s obviously really special in that aspect. But it’s been cool to see firsthand why he does it. Because if you just watch film or don’t know him or have a reason behind it, then it’s like why is he doing that? But he has a reason for everything. It’s been cool.”

Etling was a seventh-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in 2018. During his rookie training camp, he was the No. 3 quarterback behind Brady and Brian Hoyer. While he didn’t do much through the air – he had a woeful 52.3 passer rating – he made one of the plays of the preseason with an 86-yard touchdown run.

Etling spent his rookie season on the Patriots’ practice squad. When the team convened for training camp in July 2019, he moved to receiver.

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“Everyone has a lot of different roles on this team,” Etling told reporters after a practice. “I’m no exception, so I’m excited to continue to keep trying to find a different role for myself and keep doing what the coaches ask me to do and keep learning from the leaders in front of me.”

The experiment didn’t last long, with Etling cut midway through training camp. The Atlanta Falcons claimed him off waivers and moved him back to quarterback. He spent most of the 2019 season on Atlanta’s practice squad. In 2020, he was released by the Falcons midway through training camp and claimed off waivers by Seattle, for whom he spent the 2020 season on the practice squad.

This season, he spent three weeks of training camp with the Vikings, a month in Canada with British Columbia and a two-week stint on Seattle’s practice squad. In mid-November, he spent a few days on Denver’s practice squad as a COVID replacement for Drew Lock.

Etling started his college career with two seasons at Purdue. He completed it with two seasons at LSU, where he completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 4,586 yards with 27 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. In 2017, he was the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

His first game with LSU was the 2016 opener against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. Brandon Harris was the Tigers’ quarterback for that game; Etling replaced him for the rest of the season.

Etling grew up playing tennis. In fourth grade, he made a deal with his mom.

“My mom didn’t want me to play football, because it was too physical,” Etling told in 2017. “I got to play football because I won a tennis tournament. I told my mom, if I won the tournament, I’d get to sign up for football the next day.”

With that, Jordan Love, Benkert and Etling will give the Packers at least three quarterbacks on the offseason roster. On Monday, coach Matt LaFleur said the team hopes to convince Aaron Rodgers to return to the Packers for the rest of his career.