Free agents: center Evan Dietrich-Smith, tackle Marshall Newhouse
Entering final contract year: tackle Bryan Bulaga, tackle Derek Sherrod, tackle Don Barclay
Three of the Green Bay Packers starting offensive lineman are under contract through at least 2015, including their best one — left guard Josh Sitton — and their most important one — left tackle David Bakhtiari. Right guard T.J. Lang rounds out the group.
The Packers will have a decision to make after the 2014 season on which guy to keep around at right tackle. Two would-be free agents have started there — Don Barclay and Bryan Bulaga — and Derek Sherrod is a former first-round pick.
For the coming season, however, the offensive line should be a strength for the Packers. That’s even if starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith leaves via free agency. The Packers prepared their contingency plan last year, when they drafted J.C. Tretter in the fourth round as their center of the future. If Dietrich-Smith comes back, great. If not, Tretter should be able to fill the role adequately. Bakhtiari will only improve in his second year, Sitton played at a Pro Bowl level in 2013 and the Packers will be adding two former first-round picks coming off injury to the mix (Bulaga and Sherrod), so there will be competition for spots.
It’s been a while since anyone called the Packers offensive line a strength, but that looks like a strong possibility in 2014.