17 players currently listed on the depth chart of the Green Bay Packers have at least five years of NFL experience. While the vast majority of the team is on the younger side and has a decent amount of professional experience, the veteran cheeseheads will again be asked to lead the team into the 2018 season.
This begs the question: are there certain members of the veteran cast that can’t be trusted as much as others?
Injuries and the general wear and tear of the game start to weigh on some players more than others, making some veterans less dependable and potentially expendable come Sept. 9.
Here are some veterans who have had big roles in the past that could present the team with difficult decisions come roster trimming season.
Asked to take a pay cut but rebuffed in April by the team, Bulaga is still dealing with his torn ACL that he suffered last season and may not return to his starter form. With two years left on his current contract and only having started 16 games twice in his career, Bulaga may have hit his peak.
He is going into his ninth season in the NFL, all with the Packers, and his 85 games and 81 starts have resulted in a workload that may be too much for him to take on this upcoming year.
With David Bakhtiari locking down the blindside, the team has the depth to replace Bulaga on the right side. Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy, both drafted in 2016, are prime candidates to replace Bulaga if the team moves on.
Bulaga’s level of play is top-notch when he is on, but injuries have slowed him down and it still remains to be seen if his ACL injury has made him lose a step. With OTAs beginning today, both Spriggs and Murphy have the opportunity to show their worth and make the team at least consider moving on from Bulaga.
The lone player on the team from the 2009 draft class, Matthews’ production has experienced many ups and downs going into his 10th season.
Last season, he had his most games started and total tackles since 2015, and he had his highest sack total since 2014. While 2017 was one of his most solid statistical years in recent memory, his role in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme could make and/or break his future in Green Bay.
Matthews will be looked at to capitalize on more pass-rushing opportunities in Pettine’s schemes, which could revitalize Matthews and extend his stay in Green Bay.
I believe that within Pettine’s new schemes and formations, Matthews will look more like his old self and return to what made him a high draft pick in 2010. Don’t be surprised if he gets back to 50 tackles and 10+ sacks next season.
The final veteran looked at in this piece, Cobb will be counted on to get back to his production in 2014 and 2015, when he amassed 18 touchdowns and over 2,000 receiving yards. With Jordy Nelson donning the black and silver now in Oakland, Cobb’s status in the receiving game will need to be elevated to help combat Nelson’s departure.
Cobb was apart of the fiery offensive attack in 2011 that was led by Philbin’s offensive schemes and spreads, which could lead to Cobb regaining his potential. Rodgers also grew immensely while under Philbin and even gave Philbin praise for his success, which directly translates into the success of the passing game.
In 2017, Cobb had a very Cobb-like season, catching 66 balls for 653 yards and four TD’s, while rushing for 17 yards on nine carries. 66 catches and four scores were his fourth-best in his career in both categories, which shows he still has something to give the team.
He will be given a bigger role in the offense, which looks to return to the highly-successful results it has had in the past few seasons, sans last year. Cobb can return to his prime numbers, and more targets coming his way added to a familiar scheme and hopefully, a full season of Rodgers taking snaps should lead to better season totals in 2018.
Have thoughts about the veteran presence in Green Bay? Leave your comments below!뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23