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Cory's Corner: Is T.J. Lang highlighting a problem?

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Cory's Corner: Is T.J. Lang highlighting a problem?

T.J. Lang was surprised that Detroit made an eleventh-hour offer.

The eight-year right guard was set to sign with Seattle, especially after the Lions just signed right tackle Ricky Wagner to a five-year, $47.5 million deal — making him the highest paid right tackle in 2017 cash rankings according to Spotrac.com.

Yet, Detroit showed how much they value protecting Matthew Stafford is by giving Lang a three-year, $28.5 million contract — including $19 million guaranteed. Those are big numbers for a 29-year-old guy that had foot and hip surgeries in January.

The Packers did offer Lang, but it was shy of what Detroit will pay — a three-year, $21.5 million offer with $6.5 million guaranteed.

I don’t have a problem with what the Packers offered. Nobody knows if he can maintain being Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 offensive lineman with injuries in his foot and hip.

But then a Detroit sports talk show host asked Lang about the Packers’ thriftiness and Lang didn’t hold back. 

“I think just throughout the years they were able to get some guys back in town because they used the whole, we’re good, we’re competitive, we compete for championships every year. Do you want to play with the best quarterback in the NFL-type thing, you’re going to have to take a little less money, and I think it just kind of wore some guys out the last couple years and watching guys leave. But it was a luxury that for a long time they were able to have. And they’re still going to be fine, they’re still going to compete, they’re still going to be a hell of a team, but it is what it is. It’s just a business and the older you get, the more you play, the more you understand it.”

The first time I read that quote I thought arrogance. The Packers continue to use the excellence of Aaron Rodgers as a way to balance the books. Lang has been in Green Bay for eight years, is he predicting the future? Are players getting tired of being expected to take less to play on a team that has the best passer in the league and is the pick every summer to win the NFC North?

But it’s a slippery slope to leverage that success against future contracts. Obviously, many players would lay in traffic to play for Green Bay. The Packers play their home games in a crown jewel and the last time they missed the playoffs was in 2008.

Perennial doormats like the Browns, Bears, Jaguars and Jets have to overpay. All those franchises haven’t been to the postseason in the last five years. Players know they aren’t going there to win games — they go there to get a payday.

While it’s great for general manager Ted Thompson to save money whenever he can, maybe players are getting tired of being asked to take less just because they play for the Packers. That’s a tough balancing act for any general manager. How do you keep your head above the cap and stay out of salary cap hell while also wooing players to come play for you?

I just wonder if Lang’s signing with the Lions is an outlier or the start of a domino to fall. Lang voiced something that many people didn’t realize was an issue. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

cuervo's picture

Uhhhh...it's not an issue. Ask Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Cobb, Peppers, Nelson, Burnett, Bahk, Bulaga, Driver, ...need I continue?

His last contract was more than competitive, he's older now and has a broken down body...they offered what they offered. You can get more from a team that has essentially sucked for most of the last 20 years...good for you.

In fact, the Packers are one of the few teams that virtually NEVER ask their players to take a pay cut from a contract they have signed, and they hardly ever cut anyone before their contract is done. Sounds like he's been talking to to Sitton.

Bearmeat's picture

Yep. Exactly.

I'm not happy that we no longer have the best OGs in the game. But it's also not a killer for the offense, because, let's face it, you can get away with average OG play in the NFL. Both our old OGs got very competitive 2nd contracts with the Packers. They have already made quite a bit of money in their careers, and now that they're on the downslope, they're still making money.

I expect the offense not to miss a beat. Thanks for the memories TJ and Josh. Glad you both got paid, and I'm glad the Bears and the Lions are paying your overpriced salary, and not the Packers.

gr7070's picture

Agreed with the above post and comment!

TJ leaving has only to do with TJ's circumstances and a GM making the right call.

Age
Health
Money
Projected play
Position depth's:
Age
Health
Money
Projected play
Roster needs

That's it.

TJ's upset his team didn't want him as badly as he wanted more money. Meh. I'd be upset, too, but the decision was obvious.

I'd much rather have Tretter over TJ anyway, and he was a luxury we couldn't justify with the OL/roster circumstances, too.

Point Packer's picture

Sitton and Lang were pissed Bakh got the contract he deserved. Now Sitton is playing in the dumpster fire that is Chicago. In Detroit, at least Lang has a chance to be competitive.

gr7070's picture

Detroit is actually a pretty bad team. Their record last year was very deceiving.

WKUPackFan's picture

Let's slow down on extrapolating a "problem" from a question asked by a Detroit sports radio hack and an answer from the always loquacious TJ. This sounds more like TJ giving some feel good talk to the Lions fans.

sheppercheeser's picture

So a good team doesn't have to overpay their players? Um, that's a good thing. How many times have we heard about a veteran signing with NE for a smaller paycheck for a serious chance at playing in a SB? Jared Cook played in GB for his first chance at playing in a playoff game. I like TJ, but his comments sound like sour grapes and his comment that Detroit is a contender is hilarious.

Razer's picture

I wonder if Jared Cook and his agent used the one year deal with the Packers as a strategy to get the big payday. Play with a contender and have Rodgers throw to you for a year put Cook in a good position coming into FA. The fact that he couldn't to terms with anybody in the heat of FA tells you he doesn't suffer from the syndrome that Lang refers to. Its a business and both player and team play to win.

gr7070's picture

I am certain that id's exactly what Cook did. Smart move. And it'll pay off to some degree.

Unfortunately for him, Cook played like he always has, poorly. Sure his athleticism shines once in a while but his overall play is poor.

I'm surprised the Packers offered him as much as is reported.

Much happier they signed Bennett!

Bearmeat's picture

Dude. Cook didn't play poorly. He played well, and I wish we'd have had him back - but his agent and he thought their value was higher than it is, and it cost him. The veteran TE market this year was a seller's market. Cook guessed wrong, and that's why Bennett is in town and he's not signed by anyone yet. Sucks for him, but it's a business.

Thanks for the memories, Jared. Best of luck to you.

gr7070's picture

Dude. He did.

footballoutsiders.com/stats/te

33rd TE by rate stat.

He's an athletic TE, but not a good one.

The other excellent analysis sites (numberFire, Pro Football Focus) have info behind membership. Maybe someone has access and can show Cook's rankings, preferably on a per play basis.

Finwiz's picture

I agree with gr7070 regarding Cook, but I look at this way. He never seems to play at the level it appears he should. I expected more big, downfield plays out of him to be honest. He was very good, but not as good as I expected. Then there's the injury thing, it appears he's always had to deal with. The Packers made a very shrewd move not falling in love, and overpaying for, Jared Cook. The far bigger need for this team is defense, but it doesn't appear there's as many great defensive FA's as there are offensive.

4thand1's picture

Cook showed what was missing since Finley left, match up problems. If he would have been healthy from the start, they wouldn't have been 4-6 and having to run the table.

bstone's picture

Three things I see coming from that quote:

1. It's a way to weed out those chasing a pay check.

2. Rodgers is getting older and future FA's will see he's on three tail end of his career and it won't be a good reason to take less money on a multi year contract.

3. Rodgers is likely due for an extension soon and can use this for additional leverage (as if he doesn't already have enough).

Razer's picture

I like TJ Lang and was hoping that he might get resigned at a reasonable price but the Lions overpaid and we wisely walked away. I don't think that an O-line full of 8-10 million dollar players is sustainable especially when it comes at the cost of other needed, skill positions.

I don't see a lot of "hometown discounting" going on in Green Bay or around the league. Lang took an inflated contract from a team in need. He should have left it at that.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm starting to wonder if the Lions aren't going to try and draft Fournette or Cook, maybe they try and move up and draft one of them. The Lions now have a pretty impressive O-Line with Decker, Swanson, Lang, and Wagner, that is a hell of an O-Line. Matt Millen come back to Detroit.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

For what i had read, unless one of those guys drops, Detroit has high hopes for their rbs. Figure if AA comes back healthy and Theo Riddick on third downs, they believe there set, and plan to draft like us whole lot of defense. Agree bring Matt Milen!!!

dobber's picture

I would argue, from an FFL perspective, that Riddick and whomever ends up the #1 RB in Detroit will be playable options in 2017...although neither Abdullah nor Riddick seem to be able to take the pounding.

Nick Perry's picture

I had a feeling something like this might happen, especially when I saw the guaranteed money Lang was offered. Sorry but $6.5 million has to feel like a kick in the nuts for an All-Pro guard who basically did anything and everything he could to suit up most Sundays. He was the enforcer on that O-Line, the first in someone's face when he felt his QB or another teammate was wronged. IMO he was the leader of that O-Line and deserved more than $6.5 million guaranteed. That much guaranteed money says you'll be here one year, maybe two but I doubt it.

I don't blame Ted for not matching THAT contract from the Lions and I sure as hell don't blame Lang for leaving.

Razer's picture

... I don't blame Ted for not matching THAT contract from the Lions and I sure as hell don't blame Lang for leaving....

This is the simple truth of FA and this particular signing. It is a business and some deals are better than others. To color it any other way diminishes a side for the wrong reasons. Just ask Greg Jennings who took the money and ran and now has no place that misses him.

dobber's picture

It took a crap-ton of guaranteed money for the Lions to bring Lang to Detroit. What does that say?

Jennings played a QB-dependent position and he got exposed when he left GB...and then he and his family created ill-will by running his mouth. Lang plays a position that is not QB dependent, but depends on who's playing next to him. I suspect he'll show well in Detroit. Good luck to him. Please beat the crap out of the Vikings.

Nick Perry's picture

I wonder how many times Jennings has kicked himself for not taking the FIRST contract Thompson offered?

Ryan Graham's picture

The Lions have started this offseason with less cap space and have spent about as much on their O line alone, probably more so. They are staring at a secondary almost as bad as ours, an aging defensive front, (they did take a shot at getting younger to be fair) and an upcoming pay day for Matt Stafford. They over paid for both Lang and Ricky Wagner, and they are saving money by replacing Riley Reiff and Walford. A theory, but this situation is more about the Lions than the Packers.

dobber's picture

As someone who lives in a Detroit market, I've seen plenty of LOLions football. I'll tell you this: the Lions are going to be better on the offensive side of the ball in 2017, especially if they can find a serviceable RB. They're declining on the defensive side, though, so this is likely to be a push unless they find some NFL-ready talent in the draft. If you look at 2016, how many games did they pull out in the 4th quarter? Not likely to happen again.

scullyitsme's picture

Always hate this crap. Yeah, we get your mad that you took 29 million dollars, and have to play for a crappy team, My tiny violin will play all night for you. What about this being a business did you miss the last 8 years? Did I mention 29 million dollars? So shallow.

Handsback's picture

This is a business and both teams and players play the game of chicken. Elliott I think is a good example. TT didn't really know what Elliott was worth so he let him test the market. The test came back with I got offers x and y. So TT matched them. He wouldn't do it for Lang because it was tooooo much.
Most of us don't live in that sphere of business. My son is in the entertainment world and it works a lot in the same way. Not with the on-air talent, although sometimes they price themseleves out of a series and get cut, but on the business side of the studios/channels.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Agreed - you want all your players back, but sometimes other teams needs will artificially increase a players perceived value. GB tends to not reach or overpay (or overextend) aging players. You can't if you're already paying "the man" and want to keep your roster functional. The Packers have to look at their 2018 FAs, too, and make sure they have the cash to extend those who they want to keep.

stockholder's picture

Double edge sword. WE shouldn't blame the players and we can't blame TT. The NFL knows this by raising the cap. These kids come into to get rich. There isn't one player that wouldn't want Total Free Agency. How is anything going to change? Baseball is out of control. Football teams are moving to much now. And with this NO loyalty. TT did the right thing. He'll pay what the market says. I would have let them all go to keep the packers in Green Bay. I don't feel any made a difference. You made your money Lang. Good Bye! I won't miss you, you Greedy BGuardd. And the Packers will be better off. Because now you gave someone else a chance to make money.

Nick Perry's picture

You can't blame Lang for taking a difference of $13.5 million in guaranteed money. That's not being greedy, that's being smart. That much money along with what he's made already basically assures Lang his grandchildren won't ever have to worry about money. You can't blame a man for that, not that big of difference. Greg Jennings was greedy bastard, Lang was not.

The Packers being better off remains to be seen. 2 All pro guards and out top reserve is a hell of a lot of talent to lose for anyone in 9 months. If it was THAT easy to just replace a guy why are teams paying this much money in the 1st place.

stockholder's picture

Nick these guys already are being paid good money. It came down to the money over the super-bowl and teammates. Not trying to spin this, but these guys were winning. Detroit wasn't! I do blame TT for dumping Sitton. He was wrong. But until they Fire TT. He has a vision that is business as usual. Keep this team competitive. If money is your objective we don't need you. #2. With TTs success at letting the OGs go. And finding new replacements. Staying competitive. You have to back the Packers and TT on this one. TT doesn't care if someone is all- pro or not. TT will tell you be a good team mate first. TT plays the Jacked-up for his game . Not All- pro.

caruso81's picture

"He'll pay what the market says."

This is only partially true. Ted sets a value on each player and really doesn't budge. That's not really interacting with the market. That's Ted trying to dictate the market. (This is also the reason that he'll sometimes give his own guys what seem to be "generous" contracts... Cobb, Bakhtiari). It works a lot of the time, and it keeps the team out of cap problems, but it also ensures that we continue to be trolling the power tool department at Home Depot in July for guys to suit up on Sundays.

That being said, TJ was probably a little pissed the Packers didn't get near his Detroit offer. But, had GB offered 3 for $26m and let's say $14m, do you think he would have taken it and left the higher offer on the table? I seriously doubt it, and nor should he. He just would have been a little less pissed.

One last ugly truth. The Patriots use every personnel option available to them AND they win Super Bowls. We may hate them, and they aren't always overburdened with principle, but no one seems to notice as they're hoisting another Lombardi trophy.

mnklitzke's picture

NE does it all the time saying you have a good shot at a ring so this is what we are offering... don't like it go play for the browns for double and suck the rest of your career. I really wanted us to pay Lang but I would have stopped at 8mil a year... Many mouths to feed can't pay everyone top dollar... Best of luck to you Lang and maybe you will make the playoffs this year, Doubt you win a game in playoffs though...

Tarynfor12's picture

Players play for those who pay more and say whatever they believe the fans of the new team want to hear.
Rodgers has no intention of a home discount and will take the highest and best guaranteed contract and will say things that will please whichever fan base it may be.
When or if Rodgers gets a better deal money wise and then spins the rhetoric that it wasn't money but a team more likely to get him Ring number 2, which will likely be the truer reason.

Tundraboy's picture

I don't always believe they are so conniving. They all have egos and who wouldn't want to be valued, and would say good things about someone who is going to pay you more money than anyone else.

WKUPackFan's picture

First, we should understand that AR's current contract has never hampered GB from building a competitive roster. Neither has Clay's, but that's another discussion. Anyone who believes otherwise (not saying that you do Taryn) doesn't understand how the NFL and the Packers work.

That being said, AR's situation is slightly different from that of a Lang or most players. AR's grandchildren are already financially secure. He may still take the highest offer some day, but he's almost certainly playing for other reasons in addition to the money.

Tarynfor12's picture

Hampering the team isn't the issue. It's simply taking more money regardless of where it comes from for the money.
When injuries and cuts begin Lang would have gotten his money if he held out and that is what he wanted and deserved more than Perry though different sides of the ball.

Ryan Graham's picture

Well, I can't disagree with you, Taryn. He's gonna go to the best situation as far as team fit and financial upside. He highly values his talents as he should. He deserves top dollar because he plays at that level year in and year out. On top of that he's showing no sign of slowing down.

That being said, if you are implying he's looking to hit the market at the end if his contract I see it playing out differently. I don't see this Contract making it far enough for him to hit the market, he'll probably get an extension of 2 or 3 more years at 25-27M per either following this season or the following. And I think he'll take that offer because he values Mike McCarthy. And Ted Thompson will most likely be replaced with Eliot "Youngblood" Wolf.

Tarynfor12's picture

The starting point for Rodgers without one word needing to be said by him or agent, is highest paid player at that moment. Whether another SB is close or not will not be a consideration because if that was on the table of possibilities, than highest paid wouldn't be. I could be wrong but we'll soon find out. Even his extension will be based on him being the highest paid.

Tundraboy's picture

TJs gone. Now let's get some more D play makers.

al bundy's picture

Ted's problem again this year - broken record, lots of holes to fill not enough picks to fill them, so it's the undrafted circus again. Cheap, simple. Packers play theme screw defense we got Rogers and jordy.

al bundy's picture

Let's draft two o linemen in one and two passing on top corners and running backs, then pick up some third fourth and fifth bums to play needed roles. This team has gotten seriously worse in the past two weeks.

DesertPackFan's picture

Lacy signs w/ Seattle. One year 5.5M 3M guaranteed.

lou's picture

This is Ted's history of lineman close to or over 30 with contracts due;

Marco Rivera - became highest paid guard by the Dallas Cowboys @ $8M annually. Played 2 years, back issues starting 2nd half of 1st season no Pro Bowls - had been to the Pro Bowl with Packers 3 years in a row.

Mike Wahle - went to Pro Bowl 1st year with Panthers, average player the next 2 years with Panthers and his last year with Seahawks

Daryn Colledge - 3 sub average years with Cardinals and last year with Dophins - this guy coming on to the practice field looked like Tarzan, played like Jane

Scott Wells - Pro Bowl last year with Packers, 3 sub average years with Rams

Evan Dietrich-Smith - started 1st year with Bucs, last 2 a reserve/special teams *still active

Breno Giacomini - sub average starter 3 years with Seahawks (SB Ring), 2 year starter Jets, 2016 sub Jets *still active/released

In addition he drafted in the mid rounds, Sitton, Lang, Bahktairi, Linsley, Tretter and Bulaga in the first round. Every once in a while you need to look back to the history of the positions to get a clearer picture.

jww061356's picture

Other than the talent drain, I don't see the problem The Patriots do business this way, and they're brilliant, but we do it and its' a problem? I always thought bring T.J. back was tenuous, 29, beat up, looking for a big pay day. Not the way the Packers do business.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

"Lang voiced something that many people didn’t realize was an issue."

Jennings stated this same thing when he left, albeit in a whinier tone. Some guys take the high road when they leave, others take it as an opportunity to get things off their chest. Bottom line - it's a business. Thanks for the years, Lang. Good luck in Detroit.

MarkinMadison's picture

A lot of bs floating around this. 1) people won't risk themselves for the Pack in the future like TJ did - uh didn't TJ just real the reward of playing through injuries? 2) Packers should have paid him - uh isn't this the same guy who said publicly that he would take a discount to stay?

I loved Lang but you can't overpay a guy his age. It kills teams

olwig420's picture

Do you seriously think that New England doesn't do the same thing? I'm sure players get the same treatment from a few teams.

marpag1's picture

Yada.

Lang's four year contract extension in 2012 paid him an average of 5.2M per year, which means that out of 64 starting guards, Lang's salary was 18th in 2016, 13th in 2015, 12th in 2014, and 13th in 2013. According to league sources with knowledge of the contract, TJ Lang's name was written at the bottom.

Nothing even close to a problem here.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Lang is full of it. He just said he'd play for less or let GB match any offer. He got paid well when he re-signed in 2012. Eventually he outperformed his contract, but not in the first couple of years. And his employer taking the risk that he never plays up to his contract always gets lost in hindsight.

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