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Packers cut Ricky Jean Francois again; Vince Biegel could replace him

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers released defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois -- again.

It's the second time this season they've let the ninth-year veteran go.

The first time came after he played just six snaps in the regular-season opener. They brought him back in Week 3.

On Wednesday, they released him again. Although they didn't immediately replace him on the roster, they're likely to fill his spot with rookie fourth-round outside linebacker Vince Biegel, who appears ready to come off the physically unable to perform list.

Biegel returned to practice on Oct. 18, the earliest possible date he could have taken the field after starting the season on PUP. It was the first time he was on the field since Packers rookie camp in May, when a recurring foot problem forced him to undergo a second surgery in less than year. Biegel first had surgery in the fall of 2016 during his senior season at Wisconsin.

The Packers hope Biegel can boost their pass rush, which has only seven sacks from their outside linebacker group (3.5 from Nick Perry, 2.5 from Clay Matthews and 1 from Ahmad Brooks).

Biegel would have to be activated or placed on injured reserve by the end of this week, when his three-week window to practice without counting against the roster ends.

“It's like any player coming off whether it's IR or PUP, there's thresholds you have to jump over,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week. “I thought he did a nice job practicing going into the New Orleans game. He's going to have an opportunity to compete, and then we'll make the decision whether to bring him up to the 53, and then from that you make the decision on the 46.”

Francois signed a one-year, $2 million contract that included a $250,000 signing bonus during free agency this past offseason. When the Packers re-signed him, they gave him nearly the exact same contract minus the signing bonus. As a vested veteran, he’s eligible to claim the rest of his $1.25 million base salary as termination pay. Players are allowed to do that just once in their careers.

In all, Francois appeared in six games for the Packers and made just two tackles.