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Packers Release Veteran Tackle Chad Clifton

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Packers Release Veteran Tackle Chad Clifton

The Green Bay Packers will release long-time tackle Chad Clifton today, according to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.

Clifton is a 12-year NFL veteran, every one of them spent in the Packers organization and would have been entering his 13th year in the league in 2012.

Following a hamstring injury in early October, Clifton missed the majority of the 2011. He then aggravated a back injury while rehabbing his hamstring, pushing his recovery back further than expected.

Clifton returned for the final regular season game and the NFC divisional round playoff loss to the New York Giants but was benched in the middle of the Giants game in favor of Marshall Newhouse who played in Clifton's place most of the regular season.

The veteran left tackle reportedly underwent offseason back surgery that alleviated pain in his back. Mike McCarthy said during the NFL's owners meeting in March that Clifton would be back and would compete for a job if healthy.

Clifton was a two-time Pro Bowl selection following the 2007 and 2010 seasons. He'll also be remembered fondly for the role he played in coming back from an early season knee troubles to play at a high level during the six-game winning streak to end the 2010 season including the Super Bowl, in which he gave up only one sack.

Many fans will recall a blindside hit by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Warren Sapp on Clifton back in 2002. Clifton suffered a serious injury to his pelvis and laid motionless on the ground before being taken from the game by an ambulance.

While he returned the following season, Clifton continued to battle injuries from that point onward in his career.

The release of Clifton will clear $5.7 million from the Packers salary cap. That money will go towards signing the 2012 rookie class and may also go toward signing players currently under contract to extensions.

Wide receiver Greg Jennings has a contract expiring following the 2012 season, and other elite players such as linebacker Clay Matthews and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have contracts expiring in future seasons that make them candidates for extensions as well.

This move puts the future of the offensive line in flux. The Packers could turn to Newhouse at left tackel like they did for much of the 2011 season, but Bryan Bulaga is also an option to switch over from right tackle as is last year's first-round draft choice, Derek Sherrod if he can overcome a broken leg sustained last season.

With 12 draft choices, there's also a good chance the Packers will address the offensive line during the NFL Draft that begins on Thursday.

***UPDATE***

The Packers made Clifton's release official in a statement released to the press.

“Chad is a great Packer and has been an integral part of our success over the past 12 seasons,” said general manager Ted Thompson said. “He was a member of some of the most prolific offenses in team history, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate. We thank Chad for all that he has given the Packers on the field and in the community and wish him and his family well.”

It's unknown whether the Packers asked Clifton if he wanted to retire.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Wish him all the best, but his time has come.

If it were up to me, I'd move Bulaga to the left and let Newhouse and Sherrod battle for RT (and probably pick up another OT in the mid-rounds).

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm with you. Sherrod will probably back up both positions this year. He'll have to cover more than one to be worth his weight, and Lord knows, he's no guard.

Bearmeat's picture

Yep. Thanks for the service Cliffy.

I think LT is in good shape with Newhouse/Sherrod. I liked what I saw from Marshall progressing throughout the season last year.

PackersRS's picture

Agreed, but he has to continue that progress through this offseason. The level of play of last year is not enough. Good thing that Sherrod appears to be ready for training camp, if not sooner.

The move was necessary, the Packers needed the cap space. I expect Driver to either re-structure his contract significantly, or to be released, this week as well.

And Clifton will be a Packers Hall of Famer. Great career, but most importantly, played almost perfectly in the most important game of his career, against one of the best pass rushers in the league. I'll always remember his performance against Harrison in SB XLV.

Lars's picture

Newhouse was awful in pass pro. He gave up 12 sacks in less than a full season. As we learned with Barbre, Colledge, Moll and breno---hope isn't an option. Sherrod may be good eventually, but he was beat out by Newhouse (12 sacks) and is injured.

Moving Bulaga to the left side to protect AR's blind side is the best option for now.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think Bulaga should move to LT, but in Newhouse's defense, last year was his first season as a professional. He's has a long way to go, but just because he gave up 12 sacks last year doesn't mean he can't improve by leaps and bounds.

jeremy's picture

If Bulaga moves to left and Newhouse moves to the right they are both still on the field, but now adjusting new positions. It accomplishes nothing except making you feel like the Packers "did something".

PackersRS's picture

Bulaga, a first round pick, was awful in his first season starting. Beaten like a drum constantly. PFF gave him a -24.1 grade. And he came out of Iowa, a pro-ready program. We all know how well he performed last year.

Newhouse, a fifth round pick out of TCU, in his first season, practiced mainly at guard, before being IR'ed. Last year, with no offseason, he was asked to take the LT spot on the fly. For those circumstances, he did well.

Expecting young players to improve is not hope. It's a standard MO of good franchises.

"Starting the season out, I didn't look at Marshall the way I look at him now. I look at him now as a guy who really has a strong, legitimate chance to be the left tackle of the future. I think he has the personality makeup to do that, the athletic ability to do that, the feet and the smarts to be a very, very solid left tackle for us." Aaron Rodgers

Rocky70's picture

"Expecting young players to improve is not hope."

You're just 'mincing' words. Use any word, expecting, hoping or even dreaming that a player improves seldom changes the end result. Regardless, Newhouse either improves or gets AR killed.

Moving Bulaga to the left involves much less risk (to AR's health).

MarkinMadison's picture

+1.

jeremy's picture

Newhouse has great feet and great balance. 2 thing you can't coach and are surprisingly hard to draft.

Normthe1's picture

You are no doubt correct about the sack total but I really think he improved over the course of the season. Give him a full off-season and who knows how good he gets?

BUT, my personal view is to move Bulaga to LT and then open up RT to whomever wins out between Newhouse and Sherrod...

Bearmeat's picture

Completely agreed RS. (and disagreed Rocky)

Newhouse/Sherrod is the 2nd best thing to having an established LT right now. But they do have to improve. And it's reasonable to expect it to happen this year.

Leave Bulaga at RT.

We'll be fine.

Rocky70's picture

MM will play whoever at LT to best protect the NFL's MVP. This really has little (or nothing) to do with the careers of any of the LTs mentioned. This only has to do with how to protect your "franchise player".

Note: This isn't Madden. If Newhouse gets AR destroyed, there is no 'reset button'.

Bearmeat's picture

Very true Rocky.

But Newhouse was very solid at times last year - And he improved steadily throughout the course of the season.

I'd bet he (and Sherrod) make large jumps from year 1 to 2. (Newhouse's rookie campaign was basically a redshirt).

It's a good problem to have. Bulaga is a stud at RT, and we have two high potential soon-to-be-studs at LT.

Woot!

PackersRS's picture

Yes, because if Newhouse plays terribly at RT Rodgers will be fine...

Rocky70's picture

Come on, RS, you know all about blind-side hits. As mobile as AR is, if he can see the opposition bearing down on him, he has a much better chance of escaping the hit & possible injury. QBs can't see many blind-side rushers.

Simple. Common. Sense.

PackersRS's picture

There's no such thing as blindside when in shotgun. There's no such thing as blindside when it's a run play. When it's a screen play.

How many times does Aaron Rodgers takes a snap from under center and it's a pass? I'd say 30% of the time, if that much. Now figure the ammount of time it takes for Rodgers to get hit blindsided. A 3 step drop isn't enough.

So we're talking about changing 2 positions in the OL, messing up with the chemistry, for when Rodgers takes a snap from under center, and it's a pass, and it's a 5 or 7 step drop.

To me that's not enough to merit the transition. There're other factors as well. The Packers don't ask their TEs to pass block many times, it's usually the RB, or the H back. In his situation, he can very well pick the blindside rusher. Not to mention the strong possibility of simply shifting the OL, leaving the right side, Bulaga and Sitton on 1-on-1s, to help the left side.

When teams operated from under center most of the time, that difference between LT and RT was significant.

Now, with so many shotgun snaps? It's minimal.

Chris's picture

Thanks for all you've done for the Pack Cliffy, you will be missed.

Idiot Fan's picture

Hell of a career. See you in the Packer Hall of Fame big guy...

jack in jersey city's picture

yep! thank you mr. clifton!

MattNC's picture

A true warrior. He represents what being a Green Bay Packer is all about.

Blake's picture

This is a prime example of a guy who gave everything he had for the team. Thank you Chad.

Cole's picture

Ring of Honor?

Evan's picture

No way.

cow42's picture

yeah - that's a ridiculous statement.

cow42's picture

and i know all about ridiculous statements.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Yes you do.

Bearmeat's picture

LOL!

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Thanks Chad, it's been a pleasure. Enjoy not ruining your body further!

GBP 4 LIFE

mark's picture

Chad Clifton was such a great Green Bay Packer, so glad he won that ring! Great, great career. Always 100% effort.

JohnRehor's picture

A true pro and an underrated one at that. Next stop: Packer Hall of Fame.

If the Packers are smart, they'll induct Clifton and Tauscher into the Packer HOF at the same time. They started their careers together, makes sense to end them together

Oppy's picture

Love it, John!!

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