The Future of the Green Bay Packers Offensive Line

When healthy, the Green Bay Packers offensive line has ranged from good to great over the last several years. Health has certainly been an issue, so depth needed to be addressed this offseason. The contracts of David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, and JC Tretter are all set to expire at the end of next season, which shows why the Packers would invest two draft picks on the o-line this year.

Jason Spriggs certainly looks like a guy who could play Left Tackle in the future, and that puts pressure on Bakhtiari to perform this year. Kyle Murphy is a player who could have some positional versatility, which gives Ted Thompson greater flexibility in negotiations.

I don’t believe the Packers are going to be able to afford Lang, Sitton, and Bakhtiari, so they will need to make some decisions. Here is a look at a few options Ted Thompson will have in negotiations:

 

Option 1:  Let Bakhtiari walk and put Spriggs at Left Tackle. Obviously, they would need to be certain Spriggs is the answer before entrusting Aaron Rodgers’ blindside for the remainder of his career to the youngster. As a proven Left Tackle, Bakhtiari will likely be the most expensive offensive line free agent. By letting him leave, the Packers would have the ability to renew both Lang and Sitton. This also means JC Tretter would leave to go to a team where he has a chance to start.

LT – Jason Spriggs

LG – Josh Sitton

C – Corey Linsley

RG – TJ Lang

RT – Bryan Bulaga

Depth – Kyle Murphy

 

Option 2: Let either TJ Lang or Josh Sitton leave and re-sign Bakhtiari. Though Sitton is the more decorated of the two Guards, I believe their performance level is very similar, while Sitton will probably be worth more on the open market. JC Tretter would be the immediate replacement for the Guard who leaves. The main issue with re-signing Bakhtiari is Jason Spriggs has no position for the foreseeable future, unless something happens with Bryan Bulaga. There have been some people who have suggested moving Bakhtiari to Guard, but I don’t believe he possess the natural strength to make that transition.

LT – David Bakhtiari

LG – JC Tretter or Josh Sitton

C – Corey Linsley

RG – JC Tretter or TJ Lang

RT – Bryan Bulaga

Depth – Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy

 

Option 3: Allow Bakhtiari and one of the two Guards to leave via free agency. This is the route I feel the Packers will go. Spriggs and Tretter (if he’s willing to sign a reasonable extension) can step into the starting lineup, and save the Packers a considerable amount of cap space to re-invest in the defense and skill positions.

LT – Jason Spriggs

LG – JC Tretter or Josh Sitton

C – Corey Linsley

RG – JC Tretter or TJ Lang

RT – Bryan Bulaga

Depth – Kyle Murphy

Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig
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15 thoughts on “The Future of the Green Bay Packers Offensive Line

  1. If I recall correctly, when Bulaga first came to Green Bay there was the school of thought that he’d be a good tackle but potentially a Pro Bowl guard. I’m not sure if I buy into the author’s assumption that Bulaga doesn’t have the strength to play there.

    My prediction is that we resign Bakhtiari and let both Lang and Sitton leave. Tretter starts at one guard, Bulaga at the other, and Spriggs move to RT.

    1. I hadn’t really considered that because of Bulaga’s salary, but I do think he is a much better fit to move inside than Bakhtiari.

      Not that it is the same situation, but the Packers did let Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera leave at the same time and it took years for them to adequately replace them. I would hope they would be sure Bulaga can play inside before they took that risk.

      1. Actually, it didn’t take that long to replace them. We released Wahle and Rivera prior to the 2005 season and just a year later drafted Colledge in the 2nd and Spitz in the 3rd, both of whom started and played extensively as rookies in 2006.. By 2007, this line was good enough to take us to the NFC Championship game.

        The Ted Thompson personnel model believes in drafting and developing and resigning your own. But the number of players who’ve received a 3rd contract from the Packers is a pretty short list and there were some pretty good players who didn’t get one.

        Which is why I think Bakhtiari and Tretter and good bets for a second contract, and Sitton and Lang are not good bets for a 3rd. I also think that we should remember Walker and Rotherham, two massive guards. And Lane Taylor received a two-year contract this offseason so he’s part of the calculation for the transition.

        Obviously, it takes two to tango, but my sense of Thompson’s history says to me that the priority is Bakhtiari, Tretter, Sitton, Lang.

      2. Actually, it didn’t take that long to replace them. We released Wahle and Rivera prior to the 2005 season and just a year later drafted Colledge in the 2nd and Spitz in the 3rd, both of whom started and played extensively as rookies in 2006.. By 2007, this line was good enough to take us to the NFC Championship game.

        The Ted Thompson personnel model believes in drafting and developing and resigning your own. But the number of players who’ve received a 3rd contract from the Packers is a pretty short list and there were some pretty good players who didn’t get one.

        Which is why I think Bakhtiari and Tretter and good bets for a second contract, and Sitton and Lang are not good bets for a 3rd. I also think that we should remember Walker and Rotherham, two massive guards. And Lane Taylor received a two-year contract this offseason so he’s part of the calculation for the transition.

        Obviously, it takes two to tango, but my sense of Thompson’s history says to me that the priority is Bakhtiari, Tretter, Sitton, Lang.

        1. You make an excellent point about players getting 3rd contracts. However, Bakhtiari could be the exception and not get a 2nd contract because the Packers may not be willing to pay the outrageous market value price tag of a starting left tackle. For one thing, Bakhtiari led the team in penalties last year and is called consistently for holding. He’s a solid left tackle, but certainly not elite.

          Personally, I think it’d be better to let Bakhtiari walk and slide Spriggs into the LT spot. I think Lang or Sitton might be kept, just only one. Other free agents to be re-signed using the savings from letting Bakhtiari walk would be Lacy, Hyde, Barrington and Datone Jones, who would potentially combine to total contract value for what Bakhtiari would command. They’ll also probably exercise the 5th year option on Clinton-Dix and could being back Perry if he plays well too.

          1. Not trying to be argumentative here. I’m just saying that in the 10 years of Thompson at the helm, how many times have we let a young starter leave after his rookie deal was up? The only player that I can think of that meets this criteria is Darryn Colledge….and Colledge didn’t like it in Green Bay and took a better offer to play in warmer weather.

            Bakhtiari has started a total of 46 out of a possible 48 regular season games, which equals “availability”, which is a key quality that is often mentioned by Thompson, McCarthy, and Murphy.

            He is 24, his birthday is late September, so he’ll be less than 25 1/2 as a free agent. That’s almost as young as our draft pick, Kyler Fackrell is. Lang is a full 4 years older, and Sitton turns 30 in a couple of weeks. Again, how many players over 30 have received contract offers from Thompson?

            He has played well enough that our offense led the league in 2014.

            So, I’m 100% certain the Packers are going to make a SERIOUS offer on this guy. And what is a serious offer for a proven, 25 year old OT with a great record of durability?.

            According to spotrac.com, there are 10 LTs scheduled to make $10 million + in 2016 so I think that you’d be looking at that as a benchmark figure for retaining Bakhtiari. That would put him up in the Cobb/Nelson/Sam Shields range. Of course, if you simply add his current salary to what we’d save by not bring Peppers back in 2017 you’re there.

            Sitton and Bulaga both make about $6.7 million this year; Lang is cheaper at $5.2 million. Sitton is already the 6th highest paid OG in the league, and unless you expect him to take a paycut after all those Pro Bowls, you’re probably looking at bumping him up to over $8 million to make him the 2nd highest paid guard in the league. Lang….could probably be kept for less. He’s younger by a year, but you’re still going to be looking at nearly $7 million/year.

            To my way of thinking, it makes little sense to release a 25 year old Bakhtiari to keep a 30 year old Sitton. IMHO, the better course of action is to keep Bakhtiari….and along with Spriggs and Bulaga, our OT situation looks pretty good for the next couple of years. You resign Tretter to a second contract, probably in the $4-5 million range, to replace Sitton. Behind Lang, we’ve got Lane Taylor as a stop gap and both Walker and Rotherham that might be ready by 2017….or we could draft a guard in 2017.

            Bulaga’s shaky record of durability almost mandates having a reliable OT behind him…..we’ve seen what happens when we try to plug the gap with guys who aren’t able to do it. If he starts missing time, then we’ve got Spriggs….unless we’ve been foolish enough to let Bakhtiari leave in which case we’ve got a weak point on our line at RT.

            Keep Bakhtiari at the $10 million mark. Resign Tretter to replace Sitton. Draft and develop to replace Lang. Let Spriggs spend time as a backup during his rookie contract.

            1. Not at all, this is a good discussion. I agree that it is rare for Ted to let a starter to leave after a rookie contract. However, Bakhtiari is in a highly unusual and unique situation since the Packers spent a high draft pick on a LT and there are a ton of free agents in 2017 outside of Lang and Sitton that also are starters finishing their rookie deals (Eddie Lacy, Micah Hyde, Datone Jones, etc.) Add in that Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix will be offered his 5th year option and it’s a real dilemma.

              Kyle Murphy can be used as depth after one year learning in 2016. I don’t know who Bakhtiari’s agent is, but if he decides to test free agency, I can see some team throwing absurd money at him and Ted closing his wallet at that point.

  2. I think option 3 is the way the Packers will go but they MUST sign Tretter. I think the Packers keep Lang but who knows, maybe Sitton AND Lang would sign for a little less to stay in Green Bay. If not they have Murphy who I think will make a hell of a RT.

  3. I think option 3 is the way the Packers will go but they MUST sign Tretter. I think the Packers keep Lang but who knows, maybe Sitton AND Lang would sign for a little less to stay in Green Bay. If not they have Murphy who I think will make a hell of a RT.

    1. Here’s to hoping that Spriggs and Murphy can be the modern version of Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher.

      1. I don’t think Murphy has the feet to play OT in the NFL. He looks like another college OT turned NFL OG in the Thompson mold. Keep Bulaga at RT, Bahktiari moves on in FA along w/ Sitton, re-sign Lang.
        LT Spriggs
        LG Tretter
        C Lindsley
        RG Lang
        RT Bulaga.
        Murphy becomes the backup at all positions, except LT and C, then takes over at RG in a couple years.

        Thompson has the Packers well prepared for whatever changes are coming, but in my mind Bahktiari and Sitton move on and we get 2 3rd rd comp picks.

  4. It’s a bitch when your best o-lineman (Bulaga) is half the time limping to the locker room. Keep Tretter. Smart and good at multiple positions. Bakhtiari; Foul happy.

    1. It’s be interesting to see if TT would resign Bakhtiari, cut Bulaga if he can’t stay on the field, and put Spriggs at RT. I’m not familiar enough with Bulaga’s extension to see if he could be a candidate for release after this season, but his health has been a major detriment to this team the last few years.

  5. Os anyone figuring in Bulaga’s injury history? He spends as much time in the tub as Nick Perry? O wait !! TT re-signed Perry!! Maybe Bulaga stays longer also!!!

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