Packers Sign Athletic FCS All-American Spencer Waege

The Green Bay Packers released one of their rookie defensive linemen to sign a former North Dakota State star who was part of the 49ers’ Super Bowl team.
Spencer Waege
Spencer Waege / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers claimed defensive tackle Spencer Waege off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday. To clear a space on their 90-man roster, they released undrafted rookie Rodney Mathews.

Waege was a superb player at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. He was a Freshman All-American in 2019, a second-team All-American during the 2020-21 COVID season and a first-team All-American and finalist for the Buck Buchanan FCS Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2022.

After missing most of the 2021 season with a knee injury, he had nine sacks and 17.5 tackles for losses in 2022. In 57 career games that included 29 starts, he finished sixth in NDSU history with 42 tackles for losses.

He grew up on a farm in South Shore, S.D.

“Some of them [his 49ers teammates] can’t actually believe the stuff we have to do,” he told Keloland earlier this year. “We talk about the process of pulling a calf and you start telling them what you got to do with your arm and right after that they are like ‘Hold on. You have to do what?’”

Waege joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent last year. He failed to make their roster, then spent the second half of the season on their practice squad.

That included being on the sideline for the playoff victory over the Packers as well as the Super Bowl.

“I think having a year of experience under my belt, I think that’ll do a lot,” he said. “It helps confidence, it helps knowing the routine, knowing the system, knowing the playbook, so that’ll be the biggest thing that will play into it.”

He added: “It was honestly something you always dreamed about, being at one of those games as a kid watching it on TV and how big of a game it was,” he said. “To now have been on the sidelines and been a part of a Super Bowl team, I mean, that’s just something I never thought I’d be able to do.”

Well, he did think about it, actually. His original NFL dream was to make it as a kicker.

“I can't tell you how many times and how many hours I spent out there kicking footballs through that goalpost," Waege told InForum. "I hit my growth spurt, got a little bigger and realized I'm probably not going to be a kicker anymore.”

Mathews was one of eight undrafted free agents signed by the Packers. After a year of junior college, Mathews was a three-year starter at Ohio University. He set career highs with 26 tackles and seven tackles for losses in 2022, and followed it up with 20 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and one interception as a captain in 2023.

Mathews had a quiet rookie camp, though, which probably is why the Packers made the change.

Mathews’ Relative Athletic Score was 2.81. At 6-foot-4 3/4 and 285 pounds before the 2023 draft, Waege ran a 4.91 40 and assembled a RAS of 9.58.

More Green Bay Packers News

Navy SEALs | Josh Myers | “Night and day” on offense | Jones and Jacobs

College coaches: Edgerrin Cooper | Javon Bullard | Ty’Ron Hopper

All-Star Scouts: Jordan Morgan | Edgerrin Cooper | Javon Bullard | MarShawn Lloyd | Ty’Ron Hopper | Evan Williams, Kitan Oladapo | Travis Glover | Michael Pratt | Kalen King

Published |Modified
Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.