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The Frigid Waters

The Frigid Waters


Every year, NFL teams seem to go through the same rigmarole; star players and role players decide to "test the waters" of free agency while general managers idly stand by.






Financially speaking, it makes sense for the players.  They can use the process as leverage to increase their salary and possibly even create a bidding war over their services. What I don't understand is why general managers continually allow this to happen.


Which brings me to the following questions:  Why haven't the Packers re-signed Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher? Further, have Jimmy Sexton and Neil Cornrich, the respective agents of Clifton and Tauscher, even been contacted by the Packers front office?


According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the answer to the latter question is yes.


"Agents for the...soon-to-be unrestricted free agents said that they've had conversations with the Packers, but there were no indications deals were on the horizon."


What if Clifton and/or Tauscher decide to sign elsewhere?  That would mean, you may want to sit down for this, some combination of Allen Barbre, T.J. Lang, and Breno Giacomini would be anchoring the line that protects Aaron Rodgers and clears holes for Ryan Grant.  Do Packers' fans even know how to pronounce Giacomini's name? More importantly, can he play tackle in the National Football League?


Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com (subscription required) offers his own insight on the Packers' plans for T.J. Lang:


"Green Bay would like to re-sign one of its veteran tackles slated for free agency, and left tackle Chad Clifton is the preferred target, if for nothing more than insurance. Coach Mike McCarthy would like to have right tackle Mark Tauscher back, too, but the organization would prefer that second-year veteran T.J. Lang get first shot at the position."


I realize that Chad Clifton has been injury prone as of late, but what choice do the Packers have at this point? Green Bay's inability to develop or acquire a quality left tackle has left them in a position where they have to pay more than market value for Clifton. However, is it really "overpaying" when you're paying for a good left tackle whose main objective is to protect your star player?


Once again, Bob McGinn addresses the Packers thinking on Clifton:


"The Packers probably would prefer letting Clifton test the free-agent waters so they wouldn't have to set the market. It could be risky in this case because once Clifton became free he might not want to return."


What happens if Clifton signs elsewhere? Maybe the Packers go with T.J. Lang at left tackle, but that doesn't address why Ted Thompson hasn't offered Mark Tauscher an extension.


Seeing how well he played last year, what is the downside of signing Tauscher for another year? Certainly the Packers documented how effective the line was the final 8 weeks of the regular season with Tauscher entrenched at right tackle.  Case in point, in the first 8 games, the offensive line was like a sieve; they allowed opposing defenses to rack up an astounding 37 sacks.  After Tauscher returned to the line, the Pack gave up less than half that number, 14.


There is a lot of buzz about acquiring a tackle in the draft (or free agency), but Ted Thompson's track record in drafting tackles has been dismal. Thompson needs to hit it right with an offensive lineman in this year's draft, but can a rookie step in and lead right away?


The Green and Gold cannot afford to make the same mistake as last year. They must draft a promising young tackle and re-sign Tauscher and Clifton as stop gaps for one more year.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bozz_2006's picture

agreed on all points. I want upgrades at both tackle spots but Thompson hasn't shown that he is capable of finding an upgrade. both did well enough last season. get them back.

Alex's picture

I still think we need them both. If for nothing else than their veteran leadership.

packerhq.net's picture

I agree with your thinking but I also believe this is a very different year going in uncapped. Tauscher whom I really like won't get a lot in the open market while Clifton is an unknown.
At least one will return not sure both is going to happen. I strongly believe a solid OT is coming via the draft but will it be enough to fill the void ?? Only time will tell.

FITZCORE1252's picture

From JSO -

"The fact that it's a strong draft year at left tackle probably helps the Packers' chances to retain Clifton, but one agent on Friday estimated that Clifton still could command a two-year deal averaging $7.5 million.

Clifton, who missed four of 17 starts in 2009 because of an ankle injury, has played out the six-year, $32.35 million contract he signed March 2, 2004.

The Packers probably would prefer letting Clifton test the free-agent waters so they wouldn't have to set the market. It could be risky in this case because once Clifton became free he might not want to return.

"We've had discussions about what we're looking at," Sexton said. "They told us they'd like to have him back."

The agent who estimated Clifton's worth said Tauscher could be looking at a two-year contract averaging $5 million."

There are going to be teams that makes a run for these guys, sure hope Ted has thought this one through.

GBP 4 LIFE

PackersRS's picture

I don't think Clifton has any market. He wasn't good last year, he was merely better than Colledge.

Tauscher, on the other hand, was solid last year and in 08. He didn't have market because he was injuried, and there was the chance he was done.

Either way, I think their only possible destination is the Packers, and with what we got, they're our better options.

Except for Lang, I think Lang will take one of the spots. He's better suited at RT, but Tauscher is better than Clifton, so he might have to kick to the left side. In which he played as good as Clifton, last year, when Clifton was injuried.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Agree on Lang, I think he's our RT of the future, still gotta have Tausch for at least 1 more year though.

As for Clifton having no market, you and Bob McGinn will have to agree to disagree, from JSO -
"Even though Clifton will be 34 in June, he would easily rank as the finest left tackle on the market. Tauscher, who turns 33 in June, might be the No. 1 right tackle.

Other tackles on the list are Tra Thomas, Mike Gandy, Barry Sims, Artis Hicks, Jeremy Bridges and Levi Jones.

"Clifton would be right up there," an offensive line coach for an NFC team said Friday."

Looking at that list, I'd have to agree with Bob and the O-line coach, Chad will garner interest.

GBP 4 LIFE

PackersRS's picture

He'd have more market than Tra Thomas and Barry Sims? That's obvious.

My point is that he won't be considered as a starter by any other team. He won't receive the kind of money he wants, and certainly not the money the Packes will offer him.

And regarding Tauscher, I agree with you.

My thinking is Lang would be the starter at LT, if he were to battle with Clifton. But he wouldn't be the starter at RT, if he were to battle with Tauscher.

Clifton has surrendered 13 sacks, the last two years. Tauscher, 4.

Gbpfan's picture

Agreed on Tauscher. Whatever the case, the offensive line will be entirely different next year, and veteran presence is definitely necessary. Keep Tauscher, at least one more year.

Go Pack Go!

Alex Tallitsch's picture

At least...

FITZCORE1252's picture

I wouldn't be shocked if somebody inserted Clifton as a "stop gap" starter for a year or two. Our enemy's to the South just cut Pace, we know how the rest of the division covet our scraps.

Lang did a hell of a job for a kid being thrown to the wolves @ LT. Being a rookie just made it all the more impressive to me.

Everything I hear is the GBP envision T.J. as a guard or RT. I don't think we'll see him in the mix at LT again (barring injury). Not that I agree with it. I don't care if his "arms are too short". If he can keep Jared Allen off my QB... let him play.

I really think Lang is the future at RT, if that's the case we just need to land a LT in the draft and we could have a damn good line in the not so distant future.

GBP 4 LIFE

Greg's picture

You ask why GMs stand idly by? Answer is simple. Most of the players want more money than they are worth. Last year the Bears overpaid Orlando Pace. This year they cut him. If someone is gong to give Clifton $7.5 million per year then TT should not try to compete with that. He simply isn't worth that much. Sometimes no one give the player a ridiculous offer and he has to adjust his contract demands accordingly. That is what TT is hoping for with Clifton.

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