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Bakhtiari Cashes in, Leaves Packers with one less Decision to make

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Bakhtiari Cashes in, Leaves Packers with one less Decision to make

Ted Thompson had the first move in the post-Josh Sitton era of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line. The state of said offensive line will now have the reliable, perennial starting left tackle David Bakhtiari with the team through 2020. The Packers struck a deal with the fourth-round pick from 2013 worth up to $51.67 million, including an estimated $12 million per year. Not only does this make Bakhtiari one of the highest paid offensive tackles in the league, but it also speaks on the health of his ankle that caused him to miss the only two games of his career last season.

This will likely be the first of several money-driven moves that Thompson makes on the Packers' offensive line. We may even expect another deal or two to be struck during the regular season. Especially with multifaceted center J.C. Tretter lounging in the wing, along with guard T.J. Lang and backup tackle Don Barclay — all patiently awaiting new deals.

Bakhtiari inking a new deal puts the future of backup left tackle Jason Spriggs up in the air after being drafted back in April. A speedy depth option whom the Packers traded up nine spots in the second round to get, along with sending their fourth-round and seventh-round picks to the Colts, all for Spriggs at 48th overall.

After the fiasco of scrambling along the offensive line down the stretch of last year's 10-6 campaign and the eight sacks given up by the offensive line in Arizona, Spriggs' role may just be to provide depth. 

But with Bakhtiari battening down the hatches at left tackle for the next four years, it's safe to assume Spriggs' backup role is set in stone for now. After inking an extended deal of his own last offseason, right tackle Bryan Bulaga will reserve his own spot as well on the opposite side of the offensive line. Spriggs won't see much hope taking over the controls there either, barring any flip-flopping where Bulaga would bump westbound down the offensive line to guard — a position he mastered during his freshman year at Iowa. This would keep Spriggs on the outside perimeter of the offensive front.

Another option for the rookie, however, is to potentially create more of an open-ended aspect with his game. In other words, becoming serviceable at all five offensive line positions, much like the Packers began doing with Barclay through the duration of camp. His performances at Indiana included him being an exclusive tackle — never a guard. If the brilliant mind of Packers' offensive line coach James Campen can muster up some imagination, Spriggs may be an asset at one of the guard positions instead. This shot in the dark would be banking on Lane Taylor, who is now Sitton's evident replacement, to face a steady decline despite his promising showing in Jacksonville in his third career start.

If the Packers were to turn to Spriggs for reserve offensive tackle help, they'd be getting a quick rookie who already offered a small, but reassuring sample size. He started off training camp by going 12-1 in his one-on-one drills, finally succumbing to Lerentee McCray. He followed the imrpessive start with favorable preseason performances, along with other rookie tackle Kyle Murphy.

Campen would have his work cut out for him. Especially considering the weak component to Spriggs' game is securing the inside rusher. He has no problem pivoting his hips and manning down the outside rusher — which is likely why he's been a premier tackle. The Packers would likely turn to Tretter before Spriggs is even a mere thought, though.

Tretter's showcased his athleticism and keen ability to understand blocking assignments on more than one occasion, which is an impressive feat at 6'4", pushing slightly over 300 pounds. Having three full seasons under his belt could help his case as well, but that's a given fact with a general manager such as Thompson, who puts an emphasis on playing time and learning schemes at respective positions.

Moving forward, Spriggs' responsibility is likely to be available and ready. A precaution to avoid previous struggles the team has faced along their offensive line. When your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, that's probably the smart move. Protecting his blindside was the first priority, and Thompson knocked that one out of the park early Tuesday morning.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I thought this is exactly what would happen after Sittons release. I would have been surprised if it had not happened.

The TKstinator's picture

Do you have an eyewitness who spotted center JC Tretter "lounging in the wing"? Sounds pretty lax.
I think GB would be better off with linemen who eat nails and crap thunder.

Bearmeat's picture

....that's much better than eating Thunder (wut) and crapping nails! (ouch!)

:D

Amanofthenorth's picture

What if I told you the chairs were made of faux leather, and the cold drinks were sometimes a bit too warm and the hot drinks a bit too cold?

The TKstinator's picture

I for one would be greatly concerned.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I did not know that Bulaga played guard at Iowa. Did he really master OG as a freshman?

LT, RT and OC are locked up by players under contract in 2017, unless Bulaga can move to OG (where he would be paid more than Sitton got or would have gotten). So, available spots are LG, RG, back-ups.

Available players under contract are Spriggs, Murphy, and Taylor. Lang and Tretter if resigned (not sure Tretter would want to play OG if he feels OC is his best position, but I don't know what his own thoughts are about that) could factor in. I don't see the efficiency in these moves, but maybe Murphy, Spriggs or Bulaga or Linsley can play guard. I suspect Lang is gone. Quite a few posters praised TT and MM for not cross-training Spriggs during the pre-season, or during the games. Now we are going to watch a bunch of folks totally reverse course to align themselves with TT. I don't think Tretter is going to re-sign for chump change. Look for $7M AAV for Tretter.

[Edit: I suppose that one could suggest that Bakh's signing leaves one less decision to make, but I'd suggest it raises quite a few questions, though many of the scenarios have been raised in the past.]

MarkinMadison's picture

Lang may be waiting for a contract, but it's already been reported that both he and Sitton were told there would be no contract negotiations during the season. If the transition away from Sitton goes well I fully expect the Packers to allow Lang to walk.

Bulaga's dead money drops to $4M next year, and his cap hit increases to the high end of $7M next year. He could slide to G if Spriggs is ready. He could be traded. He could be asked to take a pay cut. Who knows.

At least one pre-draft review thought Spriggs would be better off at G or C due to problems with rushers around the edge. I find it hard to believe that the Packers moved up in the second to grab a future G.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

First, I did point out earlier that this is an extension, but I drew the opposite conclusion that you apparently reached.

Second, no, the only thing that matters is the new money. A ruthless GM like TT could have forced Bakh to play for the $1.78M he was scheduled to make in a contract year, meaning he would play hard anyway, and then waved goodbye to him while inserting Spriggs in his place next year. So, $51.7M divided by 4 is $12.9 AAV. No hometown discount, no cheaper because its an extension and he gets to pocket $27M in the next 7 months and has financial security now. Even looking at it your way, it is still $10.7M AAV, and maybe over 50% guaranteed. [BTW, the numbers are subject to change: they often do when the contract is released. Sitton's contract isn't nearly as good as first reported, for example.]

Third, heck, maybe Sitton might have been galled that a player inferior to himself but who plays a premium position is looking at $5M per year more per year. I doubt it; most players seem to be happy for other players, but some do make trouble over it.

Amanofthenorth's picture

Hopefully, Bulaga ain:t that kind of guy...but he could make a case.

Handsback's picture

Spriggs is an OT. He's not a OG/OC and doesn't have the physical build of either of those positions. Bak has a contract w/ a bad back. Bulaga is very injury prone, so I ask do you need a swing OT?
I think the Packers are looking at Spriggs as their backup OT and eventual starter in year 2 or 3. He'll be stronger and have a great feel for the position. I just hope he's not needed sooner.
Murphy will be the next Tretter and Tretter will be the next Sitton and Taylor may not be on the team next year.
I'm just not sure how these guys will hold up this year.

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