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Versatility of Offensive Lineman May Give Packers Cap Flexibly

Before the 2020 NFL draft most Packer fans expected the Packers to draft an offensive tackle. The Packers had lost talented but often injured Bryan Bulaga in free agency. No other Packer lineman had shown proficiency at the position, although Billy Turner had spot started for the Broncos and Packers with mixed results.

When the Packers waited until the sixth round to draft an offensive lineman, and then quickly announced that Jon Runyan projected as a guard, there were a few pundits that joined fans in scratching their heads, wondering if Brian Gutekunst and company knew their own team. Two more interior lineman picks that followed at the end of the draft changed head scratching to hair pulling. After all the Packers had a rookie guard with All-Pro potential, another solid guard starter returning from injury, and two decent replacements in Patrick and Turner. Who was going to play tackle? And heaven forbid, what if Bakhtiari goes down? Packer fans could see the Packer’s season rolling over in the sea like the Titanic if that scenario played out. Surely a free agent signing or trade was necessary to right this ship. And then the Packers made their free agent splash; Rick Wagner. Oft-injured Detroit castoff. Needless to say fans failed to organize a parade for that move.

Half way through the 2020 season and the unthinkable did occur to these Packers. Not only has Bakhtiari been down for multiple weeks, Lane Taylor was lost for the season early. Reshuffling has become not just a pregame precaution, but an in game necessity. But not one fan rant or pundit post can point a credible finger at the Packer brain trust and say they blew it with their O-line strategy.

Nov 5, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) waits for the snap against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Elgton Jenkins has perennial All-Pro talent. Lucas Patrick is a competitive scrapper. Turner can play tackle. Corey Linsley excels at his position. Even rookie Jon Runyan looks legitimate in his spot duties.

The line is playing so well that Gutekunst may have more flexibility in the off season than even he anticipated. Jenkins is not only an excellent guard, he has played well at left tackle. Turner has been adequate at both tackle spots. Wagner has impressed fans and coaches, although he now has a knee injury. With multiple options for both tackle spots it is possible that Gutekunst might see resigning Bakhtiari as an unneeded luxury. Bakhtiari would command top dollar at a premium position. With the salary cap taking a nose dive next year the Packers may be unable to meet his demands. Losing him would give the Packers a third round compensatory draft pick in 2022 which would be tradable once it is confirmed. It also gives the Packers another year to draft and develop more lineman. It could be argued that the Packers have more quality depth in their current offensive line than they have ever had in Packer history.

Free agency is an eternity away at the moment, but both Gutekunst and Packer fans are sleeping easier knowing the O-line development plan is paying dividends in 2020.

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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36 Comments

  1. Howard November 8, 2020

    Regarding the Packers viewing resigning Bakhtiari as a luxury. I don’t think that would be the case. In addition I don’t think the Packers would need to pay Bakhtiari much more than they paid this year. Now Bakhtiari may not like what I propose the Packers do if they can’t reach a reasonable agreement between the parties. Bakhtiari could elect to sit out the season, but I don’t think so. I have posted the below before and will do so again regarding Bakhtiari and his upcoming contract year.
    .

    Howard October 27, 2020
    No way do the Packers let Bakhtiari go for nothing. Bakhtiari counts about 15 million against the cap this year. Bakhtiari’s salary this year is about 11.5 million. The rest is in prorated signing bonus of about 3.2 million.
    .
    The 2020 non-exclusive franchise tag for an O- lineman was a little under 15 million. The 2021 franchise tag amount is not determined yet. However, the franchise tag amount formulas include a factor for the upcoming years salary cap amount. If the salary cap for 2021 is reduced that will impact to some degree the franchise tag amounts for each position.
    .
    If you consider that the franchise tag amount for O- linemen will remain the same or a little less than 2020 then the Packers slap the tag on Bakhtiari. I know that Bakhtiari wants 22 to 23 million, but the Packers aren’t going to let him walk when they can tag him for about the same cap hit they incurred for Bakhtiari this year.
    .
    With a non-exclusive franchise tag Bakhtiari can still negotiate with other teams and if Bakhtiari and another team reach an agreement the Packers can match that agreement. If the Packers don’t match then the team signing Bakhtiari owes the Packers two first round draft picks. There is no way I see the Packers not tag Bakhtiari. The Packers could still lose Bakhtiari, but they are going to get something extra if they lose him.

    Reply
  2. PF4L November 8, 2020

    Howard makes excellent points, this time in the business aspect.
    But it isn’t the Packers style to negotiate in terms of franchise tags, they take care of most of their players, sometimes to the detriment of the team.
    So…here’s the thing with Bakhtiari, i think the Packers negotiate with him straight up. He may not get the 22 million that Tunsil gets, but if he doesn’t, it will be damn close.
    I say this because in reality, Bak has been one of the best lineman in the league, but right now, he’s 14th in average salary. That is why i think the Packers take care of him. Plus…sometimes when you slap a tag on a player, the player views that as disrespect. Like i said, i don’t think the Packers go there.
    IMO….The Packers signing Bak and Jones are priority’s i believe. The rest, like King and Linsley on expiring contracts will fall as they may.
    But keep this in mind, it can also be argued that Linsley is among the top 3 centers in the NFL, but per average, he ranks 15th at 8.5 million.
    The Packers have serious money going to the O line and next year, guess who wants to get paid?…..Davante Adams….and he sure as shit won’t be giving any hometown discounts. Following that, Elgton Jenkins is gonna want his money.
    .
    With all that said….could Gute disrespect players and do things that don’t make any sense to us? I think he’s proven that he could.
    …………………………………………..
    I was going to elaborate on the replacement tackles, and the reshuffling of the line. in regards to grading those players at their new positions based on a short little sample size. Plus it’s not like these players haven’t had any help.
    So before i crown anyone else a good or competent tackle, i’d have to see a larger sample size. Two games doesn’t make you a good tackle in this league, especially against sparse teams.
    Plus i think we all can agree, with Bak out, this line collapse’s a lot quicker.

    Reply
    1. Howard November 9, 2020

      We have discussed the help Turner and Wagner have received from TEs. What we have not discussed, and it relates to the help the tackles have received is fan noise. One needs to look no further than the SF game this year vs last year.
      .
      It should be obvious that it is a big help to the offensive line to not have fan noise. The fan noise becomes more of a problem the further you lineup from the signal caller(s). The tackles within the offensive line are obviously the most impacted from fan noise.
      .
      Many have seen offensive tackles on 3rd and 5+ Looking at the center to see the snap because they cannot hear the cadence well. That turn of the head can cause a tackle to get out of his stance and into pass protection a fraction slower. One thing you notice from the 2019 SF game is the tackles, Bakhtiari and Bulaga are always looking at the snap. This year in SF the tackles were able to keep their head straight away looking at the rusher across from them, and not look at the snap. Those fractions of seconds make a big difference in tackles not allowing pressures, hits, and sacks on QBs.
      .
      I know LaFleur will help his tackles by setting up TEs and WRs next to the tackles to give them those extra fractions of seconds. Once real fan noise enters the equation the current offensive tackles may have some problems that at this time, with no fan noise are not as obvious.

      Reply
      1. PF4L November 9, 2020

        I don’t blame them for giving them help, it’s something every other team would do. My point was the length of sample size in regards to progress and/or judgement. It’s way too soon.
        These players get burned, i watch it constantly, sometimes 2, or 3 times in rewind. Elgton Jenkins gets burned (it’s just not talked about) But…it’s expected, playing tackle or O line in the NFL isn’t easy work. We know they are going to get beat. I will say this……i expected worse, i thought they’ve done an ok job. But you can clearly see in the games the starters miss, that Rodgers pocket collapses faster, it just does.
        .
        I’m just not calling them versatile enough to replace the likes of Bak, Linsley, still to an extent Bulaga, in aspects of saving ourselves if we can’t meet the demands of players new contracts, thus being “willing” to lose them if need be because we have competent replacements, that is the whole point of the article and i don’t agree with it’s premise….at all.
        .
        The article says that Turner can play both tackle positions, well….he wasn’t graded out all that high playing guard.
        The last guy we heard that was versatile and could play all the line positions was Don Barclay.
        When the Packers released him in 2017, he jumped on board with 3 different teams, never making it onto any of their rosters.

        Reply
  3. Kato November 8, 2020

    Jenkins may end up being their left tackle next year.
    .
    I am bored, you guys remember this shit? https://youtu.be/2Lt3TqjEPgs

    Reply
  4. PF4L November 8, 2020

    Just for kicks…..
    Green Bay Packer QB hurries = 20
    .
    T.J. Watt QB hurries = 13

    Reply
    1. Ferris November 8, 2020

      Sigh….but hey they got Kevin King. Watt would just be another player wanting to get paid. They were sooooo stupid not to draft him. Makes me sick. Almost as sick as when they DID draft Jordan (fell to us at 26) Love. Some (almost all) of the rookie receivers that nobody in Green Bay wanted because they “liked our receiver room” look like All Pros. Jefferson, Lamb, Claypool, Jeudy, Mims, even Gabriel Davis. But who wants any of them when you got Love? Oh right everyone but Gute.

      Reply
  5. Kato November 8, 2020

    In other news, Illinois is doing it’s best to become the COVID-19 cesspool of the entire country. Over 10,000 cases per day for like three days in a row. Another stay at home order is probably coming. This country is embarrassing. Stay safe guys

    Reply
  6. stiggy November 8, 2020

    What do Chris Barnes…kamal Martin…the new te they just signed to the practice squad and aj Dillon all have in common?

    They were friends with Jordan love prior to joining the packers. Make no mistake…every move this team makes is about “the love era”.

    The real question is…does bak project as an elite tackle when love starts his hof career?

    If so they will resign…if not…they’ll probably draft a Utah state tackle so love can have another friend on the roster.

    Bte..fuck gute.

    Reply
  7. Mick November 9, 2020

    Hey Gute, there is a reason everyone else in the NFL, including the college level, identified elite talent at the WR position in this past years draft. These players were fast, instinctive, and terrific athletes. (See Ferris’ comment above) Gute in all of his infinite wisdom, after the 2nd day of the draft, declares rookie wide receivers take 2 to 3 years to acclimate to the pro game. That was his answer to reporters as to why the Pack didn’t address WR in the 1st 3 rounds. REALLY? Look around the league Gute, and you’ll find that shitty logic makes no sense. Well, maybe with the underwhelming athletes you choose to pick up; ya, it might take 2 to 3 years to develop; and that is no guarantee. What a farce. You can tell he came from the TT school of recognizing talent and not drafting for need, especially when you are blessed to have 2 HOF quarterbacks in the last 25 plus years. What a freakin waste. But, you picked a Q-back that will need 2 to 3 years to develop, if he ever does, and on top of that, reached for him………. Like many of you mentioned, Gute is in over his head!

    Reply
    1. MMSUCKS November 11, 2020

      Great points! I might add that MARK MURPHY owns this GM debacle. Both TT (the frugal GM) and Gute suck at choosing talent. Which tells me that their talent scouts also suck. Time to move on from Mark Murphy!!!!

      Reply
  8. MJ November 9, 2020

    Interesting season we are having.
    The OL somehow managed to not be a concern, unless facing very talented front fours.
    In fact, the offense has been masking the WR deficiencies beyond Adams pretty well. The run defense is what can lose us games down the line.

    Haven’t been following the NFL as closely this season, but felt the need to come by and say hi. Hope you are all doing well and staying safe.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 9, 2020

      Hope all is well in your world also MJ.
      .
      I don’t have the choice as to not follow the NFL that close.
      .
      Like a Meth head strung out for his next fix, that’s how i am during the NFL season.
      .
      I’m sick….it’s a disease!!

      Reply
  9. Mick November 9, 2020

    Yep, it’s hell being a diehard fan;;;;;;; i can relate!

    Reply
  10. Mick November 9, 2020

    In other news, see how the Bucs got punked in Tampa yesterday? Seahawks lost to Buffalo. Looks like we caught the Saints at the right time. Cowboys almost did the Steelers in,,,,,,,,, strange days indeed. Goes to show that you better be prepared to play each and every week. Packers Wire claims Linsley to be the 2nd best center in football. He’s playing at an all-pro level. Cudos to him for keeping this patchwork OL somewhat humming along. His contract is up at years end. We’ll see what happens.

    Reply
    1. PF4L November 9, 2020

      Any Given Sunday my friend.

      Reply
  11. Kato November 9, 2020

    In other news, the Seahawks went all in in acquiring safety Jamal Adams. He ranks 78/92 among safeties according to PFF. Just goes to show making the big splash moves doesn’t always work out. Actually, it doesn’t work out too often

    Reply
    1. Howard November 9, 2020

      If Jamal Adams could blitz on every play he may be all pro. The problem is Adams is bad in coverage and for all the splash plays he makes he at least doubles that with belly flops.
      .
      Speaking of PFF has anyone one seen there top 15 Packer player grades at the mid point of 2020. Anyone take any exceptions. ;-) See below:
      https://packerswire.usatoday.com/gallery/packers-top-15-players-by-pff-grade-at-halfway-point-of-2020/

      Reply
      1. Cheese November 9, 2020

        Did they forget that Aaron Jones plays for the Packers? Maybe they think he doesn’t deserve to be in the top 15…
        .
        Zadarius is only a 73, behind Rick Wagner and Keke?

        Reply
        1. Howard November 10, 2020

          I think the top 5 look correct. I think KeKe should be in the top 15 but not #6. Wagner Hmmm.
          .
          One thing about PFF grades is if a player has limited snaps due to injury or the team does not believe they are a starter then only those limited snaps are graded. Sometimes that significantly raises or lowers a players grade until they put up increased snaps. I think Aaron Jones probably had a very low grade in the Tampa Bay game. Once Jones receives more snaps his grade will probably raise significantly. If I recall correctly Wagner graded out well in the first Vikings, and lions games. The reduced snap count after the first two games has probably kept Wagner’s grade in the top 15, but maybe not as high as it is shown currently.

          Reply
          1. PF4L November 10, 2020

            Yes!!…My very first thought before i even looked at the grades. They seem to grade on limited snaps. I don’t know what they are watching sometimes, but i watch Wagner and i don’t see a 77 grade. If he was that good, he wouldn’t need any tight end or rb help…period.

            Reply
          2. PF4L November 10, 2020

            Cheese….according to PFF…Aaron Jones is in the midst of his worst year in the NFL.
            This is why…..blind faith is for people in love, and for suckers

            Reply
  12. PF4L November 10, 2020

    I respect PFF’s grade as a whole. But i question it also because….Every player gets graded on every snap played. So that begs the question…how many people have to be employed to accomplish this? Is a player graded by only one person? Could that player be a fan of the team or player he’s grading? How do they monitor all these workers for quality control?
    It’s not just grading a player, PFF does much more than that, grading teams as a whole, all the analytic’s, etc. They must employ thousands, or are some of them just casual NFL fans that volunteer and they e-mail them sheets to score them, then they send them back to PFF…..i don’t know.
    ………………….
    The first time i ever questioned a grade, was when someone in here said T Willy graded out at over 80 in 2017. So i looked it up…sure enough…81.4……0 FF’s, 2 picks for 12 yards, 12 passes defended….BIG DEAL. 3 seasons before that he was graded in the 60’s, the season after he was graded a 81, He was back to the 60’s.
    ……………….
    As far as Adrian Amos….67.5 is his worst grade of his career. I don’t know how he graded so high in years past, the guy is hardly a playmaker. He’s a tackler, that’s his forte, it’s what he does. In his 6 season career he has 5 picks, 3 FF’s, 27 passes defended, (never once over 9)…This season he has 27 tackles, 0 FF’s..0 picks, 1 sack ..1 pass defended. Big deal.
    He’s a tackler, he won’t change a game for you. Bear fans knew this.
    ……………..
    So i question it here and there, but, like 105.7 Milw. sports radio….they are the only game in town, so you just have to roll with it.

    Reply
    1. Howard November 10, 2020

      The below link answers some of your questions. I have never watched the video that is with the PFF description of there grade evaluation process. I agree that you would think PFF must use thousands not hundreds as they claim, with only a small fraction of those hundreds producing the final grades for each player. The grades usually come out within hours after each game.
      .
      https://www.pff.com/grades

      Reply
      1. PF4L November 10, 2020

        I would have to think it’s fairly time consuming for one person to grade lets say, even two players, to then send the results, have them tabulated and gone over by PFF and then released within hours after each game. That tells me they are going 100% by the initial grade as sent them.
        ………………..
        Remember…that’s a grade on individual players (each snap) but PFF offers many more services than that alone. It’s hard to imagine this all being done by hundreds of people, not thousands. But ok ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Reply
  13. PF4L November 10, 2020

    After thought……you think any of these people grading for PFF, ever take a short cut, and just look at the box score to grade players? Naw…..that would never happen….lol

    Reply
  14. PF4L November 10, 2020

    Always a pleasure having intelligent conversation…no offence Kato.
    ………………
    Like Killer and Dave the Lion fan, you bring your own special quality.

    Reply
    1. Kato November 11, 2020

      Ah. Because I criticize Aaron Rodgers more than once or twice a year, I am “special”? Got it. He is playing like he is being paid as a top three QB, that’s great! Glad to hear he is no longer in the bottom third of QBs in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and middling in passer rating and QBR. A lot of players have gotten a ton of shit for middling stats while being paid a lot of money, but yet Aaron Rodgers is immune while being the highest paid player in the league. Lol fucker I know ten times more about football than you ever hope you will.

      Reply
      1. Ferris November 11, 2020

        So much profanity shows a lack of intelligence. So does your writing.

        Reply
  15. PF4L November 10, 2020

    I gotta say……for an old washed up QB who lost it like 4 times over the last 5 years, a 93.8 grade ain’t half bad. Is there room for improvement….well hell yes there is.
    He has those two interceptions hanging over his head like a big black cloud. I don’t want to catch him pulling that shit again. Be better or find your ass on the bench, bitch. Where is Brett Hundley when you need him?

    Reply
    1. stiggy November 11, 2020

      I agree. Only place I disagree is the pack need to go tua style with Jordan love. Let’s get the future in there….

      Reply
      1. PF4L November 11, 2020

        You said it brother….lets quit wasting time with this loser.

        Reply
  16. Mick November 11, 2020

    Hundley? Let’s not forget about Kizer! On a serious note, Rodgers better start looking at the whole field on his drop backs. If he did, he would notice there are other options open; many times. I know the trust and chemistry he has with Adams, but, sooner or later it’s gonna bite him in the ass. (i,e Bucs). Many times in the shotgun, he hardly ever takes his eyes off of him. Not every week are they gonna go up against suspect DBs’ like the Texans/Niners. We all can figure it out that Rodgers had to pass a lot cause of the RB situation. As the 2nd half of the season comes, they’ll need to be more creative and versatile spreading the ball around, to keep opponents D from throwing coverages towards Adams. I’m hoping the return of Lazard changes things.

    Reply
  17. PF4L November 11, 2020

    Yea…he better start going through his progressions better, or i’m going to lose my shit real soon. He’s been a starter for 13 years now, i think it’s time he starts to get the hang of this job. I’m pretty damn sure all other receivers are available and are where they should be at any given moment, it’s about time he develops some trust in others.
    I don’t want to hear any excuses….i have defenders coming at me, i had to escape, sometimes it’s tough to see an open receiver when you have lineman coming up in your grill. He didn’t cut back, he slowed up, he only catches 40%…blah blah blah….NO MORE excuses.
    ………………………..
    I get so angry…..he walks around and has that pompous smile like he’s done something in this league. Just because he has passer rating of 117, a QBR of 87.7, 24 TD’s to 2 picks, and a PFF grade of 93.8…..big deal dude…what do you want…a cookie? This isn’t 2011 when you had the highest passer rating in NFL history at 122. Get right….or get out!
    ……………..
    Rodgers should be lucky he’s still the starter. Gute didn’t trade up and pick Jordan Love because he’s pretty.

    Reply
    1. Kato November 11, 2020

      2011 was 9 years ago. Under that logic, let’s sign Peyton Manning because 55 TDs in 2013, that was more recent. Obsessing over past achievements is for losers. Yeah, he is playing well this year. Maybe the franchise drafting his successor and lighting a fire under his ass had something to do with it.

      Reply
  18. PF4L November 15, 2020

    Maybe….Rodgers break up with Danica is why he’s playing better.
    .
    Maybe…..Rodgers went to see a Psychic and she told him he would have a great year and that gave him renewed confidence.
    .
    Maybe……A Genie granted him 1 wish and his wish was he wanted to play at a MVP level again.
    .
    Maybe …..Brett Hundley worked with Rodgers on his game during the off season.
    .
    Maybe……Simply drafting a player doesn’t automatically make you a successor.
    .
    Yawn……..Where’s killer, i’m starting to miss him.
    .

    Reply

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