Packers use waivers to swap defensive tackles

Green Bay added an athletic defensive lineman on Thursday, as they said goodbye to a rookie free agent signing.

NFL reporter Aaron Wilson broke the news on Thursday that the Green Bay Packers had signed former San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Spencer Waege via the waiver wire. With a roster at capacity, the Packers complied with their 91-man off-season roster limit by letting go of defensive tackle Rodney Mathews.

Despite being named an FCS All-American several times during his college career, Waege went undrafted in 2023, leading to the 49ers signing him as an undrafted free agent. According to Pro Football Focus, Waege played 55 defensive snaps for San Francisco during his rookie preseason — mostly as a three-technique defensive tackle — but was unable to make the active roster at cutdowns.

After being released last August, Waege worked out for the Pittsburgh Steelers and later re-signed with the 49ers’ practice squad. At the end of San Francisco’s postseason run, Waege signed a reserve/futures deal with the team. He stayed on the offseason roster up until Wednesday, when he was waived by the 49ers.

On paper, Waege, a former defensive end, is very athletic for a defensive tackle. Notable numbers from his pro day at North Dakota State include a 7.19-second three-cone, which would be solid for an edge defender, and a 4.91-second 40-yard dash at nearly 6’5” and 295 pounds. Based on a few highlights, that speed and bend seem to translate to the field.

Mathews, meanwhile, was one of seven undrafted free-agent rookies that the Packers signed immediately after the 2024 draft. Just a week ago, Green Bay hosted its rookie minicamp, where three other players were added to the roster. For whatever reason, Mathews’ rookie minicamp performance was edged out by Waege and fellow 2024 rookie free-agent defensive tackle James Ester.

At the moment, the Packers carry eight defensive tackles on their roster: Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, T.J. Slaton, Karl Brooks, Colby Wooden, Jonathan Ford, Ester and now Waege.

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