We predicted this might happen when we ran down our list of the Green Bay Packers’ unrestricted free agents — that center J.C. Tretter probably wouldn’t be back.
The thinking was the Packers already had Corey Linsley, who is capable and would be much cheaper than Tretter. And while we love Tretter’s athleticism — he adds a whole other dimension to the running game when he’s on the field — the Packers don’t NEED to re-sign him.
It now appears that Linsley isn’t just going to be a little cheaper than Tretter, he’s going to be substantially cheaper.
Tretter’s agents, Alan Herman and Jared Fox, received a wealth of interest at the NFL scouting combine this week, the source said. They had met with six teams by Thursday afternoon and had two meetings still to come, one of which was with the Packers.
Preliminary conversations indicated Tretter could receive some considerable offers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next week. Other teams are expected to pursue him more aggressively than the Packers, the source said, and Tretter is likely to accept a larger contract to become a starting center.
The one thing that we thought might slow the market for Tretter, giving the Packers a chance to re-sign him at a more modest deal, was health.
Three of the four years Tretter has been with the Packers, he’s had a significant injury. He lost his entire rookie season to a broken ankle. He missed half of his second season (and lost his starting job to Linsley) because of a knee injury. Tretter missed nine games and ended the year on IR with another knee injury in 2016.
There’s some bad luck in there, but Tretter hasn’t been available for even half the games he could have in his four-year career.
We know the Packers aren’t going to get into a bidding war for Tretter. They don’t need to. Plus, in addition to big money invested in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, it now appears the Packers may at least consider re-signing guard T.J. Lang. That would require a third substantial investment in the offensive line.
Tretter may pull in more than the $6 million-plus annually Bulaga is making on the open market.
So you can see how this is going to play out.