2014 Packers Training Camp Battles: Center

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J.C. Tretter

J.C. Tretter

The Green Bay Packers offensive line is pretty much set for 2014, with one glaring exception: center.

The Packers brass, in their infinite wisdom, has instituted a revolving door policy at the center position. Aaron Rodgers will enter this season taking snaps from his fourth different center in the past four years.

First, the Packers let Scott Wells leave as a free agent. Then they signed Jeff Saturday. He was awful, eventually lost his job and then retired after a single season. Evan Dietrich-Smith was the guy who took Saturday’s job, but got just over a season as a starter. The Packers gave exactly zero shits about Dietrich-Smith this offseason and he signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay.

This year, the guy will be someone who’s young and untested.

The good news about that is, the Packers will presumably have the center position set for a while. Providing either of these guys are any good, of course.

Here are the suspects.

J.C. Tretter
Tretter (6-4, 307) came to the Packers as a fourth-round pick in 2013. He played tackle in college, but was almost immediately anointed the Packers center of the future. He also almost immediately broke his ankle. The injury happened in May and Tretter remained on the physically unable to perform list until December. So, it’s kind of like Tretter is a rookie all over again.

Then again, it’s kind of not. All we’ve heard about all offseason is how Tretter has been studying and working hard. Obviously he’s done something productive with his time and knows the system pretty well. We also keep hearing how smart Tretter is and that stands to reason. He went to Cornell, so he’s obviously an egghead.

Corey Linsley
The Packers picked Linsley in the fifth round this year. Unlike Tretter, he played two seasons of center in college (Ohio State). He’s known as a mauler, but is a little bit smaller than Tretter (6-3, 296). Linsley can get after it, but he doesn’t possess the same type of athleticism as Tretter does.

His familiarity with the position and that mean streak will have to be the difference if he has designs on starting.

Who wins?
Tretter has two clear advantages and that’s why he gets the nod. First, he’s got that year in the Packers system. Second, he’s the bigger and more athletic of the two players. We know the Packers are looking to get a bigger body who is more athletic in the middle of the line.

No one was ever going to accuse Evan Dietrich-Smith of being athletic.

Tretter is going to be that guy.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

18 Comments on "2014 Packers Training Camp Battles: Center"

  1. Arcturus

    It seems like the Packers are playing a little loose with this key position. They’ll probably be trading for some 36 year old pine-rider by October.


    Yeah and then is opening night, and you know the Seahawks are gonna beat that ass. DYNASTY BABY!!!!!!!!!! JUST the beginning! Eat shit Fudge Packers our history will be better than yours.

    • Howard

      Seahawks your history must revolve around your next meth fix. Your brain has to be fried. Here is a history lesson if you can get that needle out of your arm long enough to learn.

      There were ten original NFL teams when the league formed in 1933. The Green Bay packers were one of those ten teams. The Seahawks were an expansion team that joined the league in 1976. There are 32 teams in the league at the time of your last fix two minutes ago. 28 of those teams have more history than the Seahawks including such loser teams as the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings. No matter how much Meth you shoot up you cannot catchup to the History of those 28 teams including the NFL team with the most championships in NFL HISTORY the GREEN BAY PACKERS. When you wake up from your current drug runner just look East and you will get an idea of the location of those other 28 teams. East will be the way your eyes are facing when you pull your head out of your ass.

  3. Howard

    All of this training camp battle conversation regarding rookies and new guys is only idle conversation. How the hell can us as fans be able to comment until we see them in pads under game conditions on an NFL field?

    Regarding the center position my question is why the hell did we let EDS leave? Did he have a chronic health problem? Knee tendinitis? EDS appeared to work well with Rodgers and knew the offensive calls. Granted he was knocked off the ball by big D Lineman some plays, but what center isn’t? I will hold judgment on the new guys with no NFL experience until they play in pads. I just hope letting EDS leave does not haunt the team.

      • Howard

        Shawn: So you think it was money at approximately 3.5 million a year for four years. Hell that is less than we are paying Brad Jones per year. I call bullshit to your answer.

        • Shawn Shawn Neuser

          Money is the primary reason why any free agent goes anywhere. Money may not have been the sole reason, as similar to Scott Wells, EDS seemed to feel generally under-appreciated, but ultimately, yes, money is the main reason why he’s gone.
          His 4 year/$14.25 Mil contract appears reasonable, I agree. However, 2 things: 1) he got the first two years plus $1 million all guaranteed. The Packers would have been foolish to match if they thought at all that JC Tretter could ultimately be the better player. You don’t want to guarantee EDS two years of salary when he might end up on the bench, obviously. The Bucs, on the other hand, were willing to guarantee that money, and if you are EDS, do you take the two years of guaranteed salary or a similar amount from the Packers who could cut you after one season? You go to the money. 2) Every player’s value is directly affected by who potentially would replace them. JC Tretter is making around 600K a year. EDS is making 5 times that. Yes, EDS has one year of starting football under his belt, making him more valuable, but 5 times more valuable? The Packers did not think so. That is the bottom line.

        • Phatgzus

          You want Cobb and Nelson back don’t you? $3M may not seem like a whole bunch when you’re playing Madden, but it sure makes a difference, especially when you save money by letting others walk (e.g. JJ). I think, by now, TT has shown he knows how to manage money better than most bankers (sadly).

          Sure Rodgers may not be happy about losing another solid player and a buddy, but I’m pretty sure the competitor within him understands and accepts reason this happened. It’s not like center is THAT difficult of a position to replace-QBs don’t generally get popped by DTs and Gs often help on double teams-that is why C’s don’t get that much money., relatively speaking.

          • Howard

            First I do not even know how to open a Madden. It must be some childish game you are familiar with. Second how did that experiment with Jeff Saturday work out. Third the Packers if they wanted EDS would have paid him what Tampa did and still would be able to sign Cobb and Nelson. They do that by giving Bonuses etc. so all the money is not against the Cap for any particular year they are worried about. Fourth I agree TT knows the money part; however money cannot be the reason EDS walked or was not offered a contract. Sure you always have to look to the future. This team is set up for the present. There should be no reason to let a position that is important to line stability be a weak link. I hope Tretter or whomever is center does a great job. Right now all the potential centers are unknowns.

            By the way It is TT’s normal operating procedure to let skill players like JJ leave after there second contract is up and they are getting close to thirty. That M.O does cause me some concern about Nelson.

          • Phatgzus

            The Saturday Experiment worked alright, he did ok the first half of the season then EDS took over at the end and in the Playoffs. Tel me, what was the Pack’s O ranking that year? Top 10 in points? and it cost them what, about $2-3M at C? Kinda proves the point that C ain’t all that important to winning compared to positions such as the Ts, QB, RB, DE, OLB and CB. All you need is someone who can consistently snap the ball, not get knocked on his ass, and communicate the D-alignment with the rest of the O, and when Aaron Rodgers is your QB you really don’t have to worry a whole lot aout those last 2 assignments.

          • Howard

            Phatgzus: you must be joking about Saturday working out alright. I can see by your posts you know better. I would agree that for the money Wells wanted It would not happen. Saturday or someone else was a need in 2012. We did pay Saturday approx. 4 mil for 14 games. 3.18 mil in 2012 and 825,000 in 2013. What a deal. We could have averaged less per year for EDS, granted for more years.

            In 2012 we were 5th in PPG. We were 13th in YPG. In 2013 we were 8th in PPG. We were 3rd in YPG. I relate the PPG drop in 2013 to the QB problem. Even with the QB problem in 2013 we averaged 40 YPG more than 2012 and 1 less PPG. I do not know what all that means except we probably had a better OL and we did have Lacy. We positively had a large QB drop off.

            I believe there was another issue BESIDES money for not signing EDS and I realize he is long gone. 3.5 mil for a experienced, young center is not out of line. Hell we pay Raji 4 mil this year, you have seen what we pay Brad Jones.

            I agree center should be close to the bottom of the food chain(but not the bottom), however this post was in regards to centers not other positions. One thing you are missing that the drug addict Seahawks troll alluded is wait until we get into hostile environments with an inexperienced center at the first of the year ( Seattle!). In addition our offense is going to be fast paced and oh by the way we are in shotgun A LOT. I hope we do not see the ball bouncing along the ground to Rodgers. We have seen that with other inexperienced centers. In fact I believe a bad center snap in the last Super Bowl caused some problems for Denver. I do not want to see us lose one game because of center exchange or communication problems.

            I hope at some point this season I can post you and say you were right we should not have paid for an experienced center. If it works the other way I do not expect the same because we all lose!

  4. Howard

    The center if I am not mistaken touches the ball every play when we are on offense. The center may touch the ball more than the QB. In addition most of the time the center is making line calls unless he is inexperienced (Tretter). I do not believe the Packers would jeopardize their season over the dollars we are discussing, for ” ultimately a better player” in Tretter. The time for additional Lombardi’s is now. If you take your logic then why would we have signed Jones and not started Lattimore last year were an inexperienced player may not be as damaging to the team?

    I agree with your comment that EDS may have felt under appreciated; however there must be more to it than Money. Hurt feelings or a chronic injury may be a different story.

    • You Enjoy Myself

      They’re only scared because they legitimately lost that game, and they’re pissed they have to keep hearing about it.

  5. kato

    Center is one of the easiest positions to fill. Aren’t nearly 2/3 of the starting centers undrafted guys? I think it is foolish to give guys like Alex mack 8 million a year. That money can be better allocated. Like left tackle for instance. And why not let eds walk if you feel strongly about tretter who comes at a third of the price? Or whatever it is. The packers have a relatively tight salary cap situation coming up. Besides nelson and Cobb (I think one of them ends up walking) you have to think about a potential extension for bulaga if he can prove he can stay healthy this year. I see no replacements for him on the roster at the moment

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