It’s not an immediate need, but the Green Bay Packers should and likely will need to address their offensive line early in the 2016 NFL Draft.
We would be surprised if they don’t come away with an offensive lineman in the first four rounds. The reason is two-fold.
First, we all saw what happened when the Packers weren’t prepared with a capable backup tackle in 2015.
Regardless of where the Packers plugged Don Barclay into the lineup — right or left tackle — he was terrible. Barclay gave up a team-high nine sacks, despite starting just five games. In the brief time the Packers’ other backup tackle, Josh Walker, saw action, it became readily apparent he was even worse.
You could argue that the Packers eventually found their backup tackle in jack-of-all-trades J.C. Tretter. We wouldn’t be opposed to Tretter entering training camp as the top guy in that role, but let’s get this position solidified.
Bryan Bulaga, who isn’t very good to begin with, gets injured pretty much every year.
Not having a capable backup at the tackle position can derail a season faster than you can say Barclay.
Second, it’s about the contracts.
The Packers have four key offensive lineman with contracts that expire after the 2016 season. They are left tackle David Bakhtiari, guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, and Tretter.
The Packers simply aren’t going to be able to pay all three of those starters top dollar.
We’d wager Bakhtiari and Tretter are near locks to return. Baktiari plays left tackle and does so (mostly) adequately. His position alone makes him more valuable than other offensive linemen. Tretter, as a non-starter, won’t command huge money. More importantly, as a guy who can play five positions, he’s too important to let get away.
Sitton and Lang, meanwhile, are up in the air.
The Packers simply can’t afford to invest big money in four of the five positions on the offensive line. It’s almost impossible to work with the salary cap. They need at least two of those guys to be on more bargain-like deals.
Bakhtiari will be getting a substantial contract. The Packers have vastly overpaid Bulaga to the tune of $6.75 million annually and his deal makes it prohibitive to release him until 2018, at the earliest.
That means the Packers are very likely going to have to choose between Sitton and Lang or let both walk.
They began to prepare themselves for that eventuality by giving backup guard Lane Taylor a two-year deal earlier this offseason. In theory, they could also plug Tretter into a starting guard position, as well.
Of course, as we mentioned, he’ll be a free agent in 2017 also.
The Packers need reinforcements.
That’s why we wouldn’t be surprised to see them nab a guard early in this draft. If they do, you’ll know why.
He’s being groomed as the 2017 replacement for T.J. Lang or Josh Sitton.
We definitely need to retain Sitton, and it would be wise to draft a couple of OL guys.
Only the Packers know the health of Sitton. Sitton sure misses a lot of practice or is limited. Maybe that is just being smart or maybe Sitton has a chronic back problem. Pack would want to keep at least Sitton or Lang. Both would be good to have if healthy. One of the three listed starters will probably agree to an extension prior to the end of the year.
Tretter may be harder to keep than expected if he gets any playing time. Tretter shows up well every time he plays at any position. That means Tretter if he hits the streets may have several teams looking at him at different positions opening up his value to other teams.
Sure don’t believe the team needs to draft a guard, they need to draft OTs and possibly 2. The team can convert them to guards as they always have.The team must be high on Rotheram or they wouldn’t have paid him additional monies to stay on the PS. For the team to pay Rotheram extra money means at least other team(s) wanted him. There is your guard.
First off, nice job Joseph. Except for the two “what if” articles, you also wrote two nice pieces, this and the linebacker situation.
The offensive line is indeed a huge concern. The current line Ted has put together over the years is coming to an end, as financial circumstances will beckon changes be made sooner rather than later. The old Ted didn’t overpay for offensive lineman as anyone who followed the Packers back in the 2005 off season can attest too concerning Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera. But this is a new era i guess as Ted handcuffed himself to an injury prone RT with bad knees who is average. Besides paying Shields as a shutdown corner, and Cobb as a #1, which he clearly proved he wasn’t last season. And who could forget Ted offering Raji an insane amount of money for little production (which Raji foolishly turned down). But with the O line, i think Ted regroups, and restocks on the cheap.
In this draft, i think Joseph has it mostly right, along with the current line situation. I think Ted probably drafts 2,maybe even 3 lineman in rounds 3-7 plus maybe a couple UDFA’s to restock the pond. Even if he doesn’t hit big on any of them, maybe he can find some serviceable depth for the line, because if were going to be honest, the backups by and large have been a trainwreck the last 6 seasons. Tretter looked ok, but one start does not make a career, hopefully he keeps looking good, and a few picks can pan out and maybe our line can be a strength.
Agree with PF4L, except on Tretter. He showed he was an interesting center as well as a decent backup tackle. I wouldn’t peg him as a guard because he is undersized for that job. As center he helps one guard check the NT, then quickly reaches the second level, making blocks there that are the difference between a 2yd run or a 5 or 6 yd one. When pass protecting, he yields his ground slowly enough for plays to develop. But as a guard he would need to meet force against force against a DT/NT, far from ideal for him.
Shit, usually Ted staggers positional contracts expiring better than this. I hope he has a damn good Plan-B.
Retain Sitton and Tretter.
Bak-T needs to be resigned. It’s much harder to find an at least serviceable LT than it is to find a good guard. But i do hope they can at least sign sitton or lang and tretter.