How Lerentee McCray Helped the 2016 Packers

Exactly one year ago on this date, the Packers shocked the world with a free agent signing.

It wasn’t shocking because of who they signed, but because they signed anyone at all.

Joining the Packers was fourth year linebacker Lerentee McCray, an athletic special teams ace who’d spent the previous two seasons with the Denver Broncos. McCray was thought to be another body to serve in the Packers’ rotation of pass rushers, contributing in a similar way to fellow linebacker Jayrone Elliot.

In training camp, he made an impression, especially on mammoth offensive lineman Josh Walker. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Michael Cohen made special mention of McCray’s powerful pass rush, even when giving up several inches and almost 100 pounds to the mountainous Walker:

Outside linebacker Lerentee McCray, who joined the Packers in April as a street free agent, has opened some eyes with his bull rush during the first few practices of training camp. His most impressive display took place Sunday, when McCray, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs 246 pounds, slammed into Walker during an 11-on-11 drill. Walker staggered back, and McCray slid deftly to his right for what would have been an easy sack on quarterback Brett Hundley. (Hits on the quarterbacks are not allowed during practice.)

“I like (McCray) as a dude; I like him as a player,” Walker said. “He’s got a lot of tools in his tool belt.”

But the success didn’t come frequently enough, and as the Packers trimmed their roster to 75, McCray was shipped to Buffalo for a conditional 2018 seventh round pick.

McCray’s 2016 season still helps Packers

Conditional picks are typically based on playing time, so the McCray trade was potentially beneficial to both the Bills and Packers. If he performed well enough to get on the field, the Bills had acquired a useful player for cheap. And if he played enough to send a pick to Green Bay, the Packers had still gotten something out of a player who may not have made the roster at all.

But in an added twist, the Packers used that conditional pick to make yet another trade, sending it to Kansas City in exchange for Knile Davis near the middle of last season.

The Packers were now several layers deep into draft pick Inception, making a conditional trade on a pick that was already conditional.

Davis didn’t last long in Green Bay, and he was cut before he met the conditions of the trade that brought him to Green Bay.

Meanwhile, McCray’s time in Buffalo played out much like it has throughout the rest of his NFL career. He played just 15% of the snaps on defense for the Bills and was credited with four solo tackles and six assists. He saw most of his playing time on special teams, participating in more than 54% of the special teams plays.

More importantly, he likely satisfied the conditions for the Packers’ trade with Buffalo, meaning the Packers have an extra seventh round pick in 2018.

That’s not a bad contribution for a guy who never took a regular season snap in Green Bay.