The Green Bay Packers will have their fourth starting center in the past four years in 2014. Last year’s starting center, Evan Dietrich-Smith, signed with Tampa Bay on Friday.
It’s a four-year deal that averages around $3.6 million annually, which you can bet is more than the Packers were offering.
Now, we’re not going to sit here and pretend Dietrich-Smith was some sort of world beater or anything, but the Packers clearly have a question mark — again — in the middle of their offensive line.
More on that in a moment. First, let’s review how the Packers seem to bone it when it comes to the center position every year in recent memory.
After the 2011 season, the Packers decided to let center Scott Wells, a solid veteran, test free agency. He subsequently got offered an asinine deal by the St. Louis Rams and took it. The Packers then turned to 13-year veteran Jeff Saturday, signing him to a two-year free agent deal. He wasn’t so good. With two weeks remaining in the season, he got replaced by Dietrich-Smith in the starting lineup.
After the season, Dietrich-Smith was a restricted free agent. The Packers signed him to a one-year tender. In 2013, Dietrich-Smith went out and started all 16 games. And now, he’s gone.
So much for continuity!
So now what’s the answer? Well, it’s second-year pro J.C. Tretter at the moment.
Tretter, a fourth-round pick, played tackle at Cornell. He was considered by most a better prospect at guard in the pros. He was considered by the Packers to be their center of the future, even though he’s never played the position.
That’s not to say he can’t play the position. We just don’t know what the hell he can do since he broke his ankle on the first day of OTAs last year. He was activated from the physically unable to perform list in early December, which makes it fair to say this guy is a work in progress.