Packers Need to Address Offensive Line in 2016 NFL Draft

As far as needs go, the Green Bay Packers have relatively few. Don’t get me wrong, all teams need more good players, but as far as glaring weaknesses, the Packers don’t have many.

Of course there is a need at inside linebacker. You could also argue that defensive line and tight end are other positions of need for Green Bay. But one position that some might not consider a need that very well could be one in the near future, is offensive line.

Right now, the Packers are pretty set along the offensive line. They have all five of their starters back from a season ago, as well as their top two backups. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that four of those players are going to be unrestricted free agents after this season. Josh Sitton, J.T. Lang, David Bahktiari and J.C. Tretter all have expiring contracts and as much as Green Bay might want all of them back beyond 2016, it seems unlikely to happen.

That’s why it’s important for the Packers to address the position in the 2016 NFL draft.

Over the course of his career, Ted Thompson has done a pretty good of addressing positions before they become needs and with more than half of his starters on the offensive front headed to free agency, it’d be a good idea to do it again.

I do believe that the Packers will keep at least two or three of the guys headed for free agency. I see keeping Sitton as a strong possibility, unless the Packers are weary of his injury history. But he’s a three-time Pro Bowler and a premiere guard.

Lang is another that’s on the fence. He has played well and is an above average starter, but it may be difficult to give out two big contracts to Sitton and Lang. And on top of that, left tackles never come cheap, which means Bahktiari could command a heavy price tag.

By no means in the former fourth-round pick an elite tackle, but he’s a solid pass protector and he’s a decent starter. And truthfully, it’s hard to find even a reliable starter at left tackle in the NFL and players that aren’t as good as he is, have gotten paid handsomely. Depending how he plays this season, it could take around $10 million annually to keep him in Green Bay.

Tretter is another interesting player. He was set to be the starting center before the 2014 season, but an injury in a preseason game cost him a big chunk of the season and by the time he returned, Corey Linsley had taken his job.

However, he had some good moments last season. He started a number of games, including one at left tackle against the Redskins in the playoffs and not surprisingly since he played left tackle in college, he held his own. He could easily start at guard or center for the Packers and many other teams and is also valuable as a swing tackle, someone who can backup both tackle spots.

So as you can see, the Packers are set for this season. They have talent and depth along the offensive line and a solid starter at every position. Yet, if things don’t work out and contracts don’t get done, there could be some scary unknowns on the front five in 2017 and I don’t think that’s something you want when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, who you are paying more than $20 million a ¬†year.

This isn’t to say the Packers need to add an offensive tackle in the first or even the second round. But they do need to address the offensive line and since they own seven picks in the first four rounds, I’d expect them to do it by the end round four, a round in which the Packers will have three picks, two of them compensatory, which means they can’t be traded.

It pays be ahead of the game in the NFL and Thompson has done well at that throughout his career. With the future of the offensive line in flux, it would behoove him to do it once again in the draft later this month.

 

 

 

chris peterson

Add your Biographical Info and they will appear here.

5 Comments
DannyDS

Without any question Thompson will be looking at OL in this draft. With Sitton and Lang both on expiring contracts at OG and nearing or over 30 yrs old its likely one or both could become FA. Sitton’s injuries are such that its unlikely they get better and more likely much worse. Back and foot injuries for OL are not going to get substantially better. Lang has minor injuries that are simple remedies w/ surgery. Lang has also played at a Pro Bowl level the past couple years even if he hasn’t been voted AND he is a little younger. I have to say Sitton goes to FA and Lang hopefully gets another contract. Tough breaks for a true warrior like Sitton but thats how I see it.

Bahktiari should get extended during the season. 2 years ago Veldheer signed w/ AZ for 7.1 M per. I would rate Bahktiari and Veldheer as very similar players. The salary cap has gone up by 20-25M since, so tack on another million or 2 for that and that Thompson will generally give his players slightly above market, I would say 9M seems fair, I can’t imagine Bahktiari getting 10M, tho it can’t be ruled out.

Tretter is starting quality IMO, even tho he won’t have started alot for the Pack. Give him a low starting contract w/ escalators if necessary if he plays near Pro Bowl level. Start him out at 3.5-4M w/ the potential to get up to 7M if he plays very well. Personally, I see Tretter stepping into the starting lineup in Sitton’s place. Lang gets re-signed and Bahktiari as well. It’ll be expensive, but we’re talking about protecting the franchise QB here… Gotta pay the big guys!

Thompson’s done extremely well drafting OL in the 4th and w/ 2 comp picks in that round, its a good bet he’ll draft 2 OL, possibly as soon as the 3rd, but no later than the 5th. 5 picks in rds 3-5 should allow Thompson the ability to draft a couple to compete w/ Taylor and Rotherham at OG and possibly a backup OT.

Reply
chris peterson

I agree with pretty much everything you said. I don’t think I said much different in my post. I think as a free agent Bahk would get close to $10 if not more. I agree it will be close between Lang and Sitton. It will depend on what happens this season. We will see. I also agree and Tretter and if they can keep for a deal in that price range I am sure they would. Maybe they will even offer him something this year before his stock gets higher. I really like him as a plaer and would be fin with him and Lang or Sitton as the starter. I agree that TT will draft a tackle at some point in the mid rounds, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was in the first or second. Tackles are rare and Bulaga has had some injury issues.

Reply
Bob

Are all the media blind.Why is GB keeping slow and dysfunctional Sam Shields.He gets turned around just like a merry-go-round.

Reply

Share your thoughts with the Packers Guru!