GREEN BAY — Cole Madison was able to overcome the mental health challenges that kept him away from football for what would have been his rookie season in 2018.
But the now-former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman apparently wasn’t able to overcome the torn ACL he suffered last November, as the team waived him with a failed physical designation Friday afternoon.
The release of Madison, a 2018 fifth-round pick from Washington State who left the team before training camp that fall to, in his words, “get my mind right, get my mental health right,” was one of several moves the Packers made Friday, as the team gets ready for it’s altered training camp to get underway. The team also:
• Waived fullback Jordan Jones with a non-football injury designation;
• Placed guard Simon Stepaniak and running back Patrick Taylor on the non-football injury list;
• Placed offensive tackle Yosh Nijman and inside linebacker Curtis Bolton on the physically unable to perform list.
The Packers did not add anyone to their reserve/COVID-19 list after kicker Mason Crosby, tight end Jace Sternberger and defensive lineman Treyvon Hester joined linebacker Greg Roberts on that list earlier this week.
Stepaniak, one of three interior offensive linemen the Packers drafted in the sixth round in April, is coming back from a torn ACL suffered at the end of his college career at Indiana, and general manager Brian Gutekunst said at the time of his selection that he would likely take a redshirt year this season.
Taylor, an undrafted free agent from Memphis, Taylor, underwent Lisfranc foot surgery after the Tigers’ first game last season. The Houston Chronicle reported that a second surgery was required and performed by Dr. Robert Anderson, a member of the Packers medical staff and one of the leading experts in foot and ankle injuries, after the annual NFL scouting combine in February, and with COVID-19 preventing players from visiting NFL teams, the surgery likely cost Taylor any chance of being drafted.
Nijman finished last season on injured reserve after suffering an elbow injury in December, shortly after being called up from the practice squad. Bolton was off to a strong start in training camp last summer before suffering an ACL tear and spending the year on injured reserve.
Stepaniak, Taylor, Nijman and Bolton all count against the roster, which stands at 86 following Friday’s transactions.
Madison became the third player from general manager Brian Gutekunst’s inaugural draft class of 2018 to be let go. The Packers had previously parted ways with fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore, a wide receiver from Missouri who was a huge disappointment, and seventh-round pick Kendall Donnerson, an outside linebacker from Southeast Missouri State.
While 2018 first-round pick Jaire Alexander has developed into one of the NFL’s rising stars at cornerback during his first two seasons, the remainder of that draft class has delivered uneven results. The Packers will clearly be hoping defensive back Josh Jackson (second round), inside linebacker Oren Burks (third round), wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round) and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (sixth round) can deliver greater contributions than they have during their first two seasons.
The other picks who remain from that class are punter JK Scott (fifth round), long snapper Hunter Bradley (seventh round) and defensive tackle-turned-tight end James Looney (seventh round).
Madison spoke at length about his journey toward better mental health, telling a handful of reporters at his locker during offseason practices in April 2019 that he was battling “demons” as he sought help.
“That decision to really go out and seek help — especially for men our age — is real tough. Real tough. (But) if I had to make it again, I’d do it again. Because it was the greatest decision I think I ever made,” Madison said at the time. “After that, it was getting over the hump, (getting to) that period of, ‘I feel like me again.’ I hadn’t felt like me in God knows how long and I finally started to feel positive, feel like, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ and no second-guessing myself.”