The Packers on Tuesday released defensive tackle Letroy Guion, who has been entangled in legal troubles and is suspended for the first four games of the 2017 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Coming more than a week into training camp and two days before the team’s preseason opener against the Eagles, the timing of the move was surprising, but only in that it hadn’t happened earlier. Still, given the team’s tolerance of Guion’s previous problems, it was that inaction which also suggested Green Bay might look past his most recent run-in with the law.
On June 21, Guion was arrested for intoxicated driving in Hawaii, where a police report showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .086 and smelled of alcohol and marijuana, stumbling and allegedly telling officers, "Please sir, it’s my birthday."
That arrest was not the cause of Guion’s four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy, his second such ban in the last two years. It also wasn't his first criminal issue. During the 2015 season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, between 2011 and 2013, Guion was involved in a pair of domestic violence incidents, which resulted in deferred prosecution for two counts of misdemeanor battery and prompted the Minnesota Vikings to release him.
And that’s not including Guion’s offseason arrest in February of 2015, when officers pulled him over and found a gun, three-quarters of a pound of pot and $190,000 in cash in his car – a headline-grabbing matter that ultimately, based on the terms of a plea deal, was resolved again without him being convicted. Head coach Mike McCarthy responded to that report at the time by calling it "garbage."
For three seasons, Guion was a member of the Packers. After his tumultuous 2015, Green Bay signed him to a three-year contract worth $11.25 million in February 2016. As McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson have said before, it’s hard to find humans as big as Guion that move as well as he does on the defensive line. Indeed, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound tackle was a highly effective player for the Packers when he was on the field. He started 15 games last season, making 30 tackles, occupying blockers and helping to stop opponents’ running games.
But facing a four-game suspension to start this season – and, according to some reports, appearing out of shape and lacking effort so far in training camp – Green Bay apparently was finally finished with Guion. By releasing him, the Packers wipe Guion’s $1.7 million base salary and $1.6 million in roster bonuses off their cap.
That the team eventually decided to cut Guion is encouraging – better late than never – considering its oft-mentioned emphasis on character and the vaunted "Packer Way." Green Bay wasn’t wrong to give Guion a chance – either his second or third when he was originally signed, depending on how you want to view the previous domestic incidents. The Packers brought back defensive lineman Johnny Jolly several years ago, despite three arrests and a felony drug conviction, though they later let him go after he suffered a cervical injury late in the 2013 season.
But even excusing Guion’s character question marks initially, the player gave the team no reason to trust he could stay out of trouble during his three seasons in Green Bay. Many wanted Guion gone in 2015 after the news surfaced of his arrests in Florida, but still the Packers held on – perhaps hoping the player could reform, or weighing his value and deciding he was worth the risk, or both.
Ultimately, though, the June arrest combined with the suspension for one-quarter of the season, plus his poor performances in practice, created enough justification for Green Bay to part ways with Guion. That’s particularly notable since the Packers are already lacking on the defensive line, with Montravius Adams out indefinitely following foot surgery.
The Packers now can move forward without the distraction and uncertainty of Guion’s legal complications and presence in the locker room, and they’ll have a little more than three weeks to figure out how to fill the hole on the defensive line. General manager Ted Thompson met with the media Tuesday morning, before the move was officially announced, but offered no indication that Guion would be released. It should have come sooner than this, but at least the right decision, in the end, was made.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.