Barclay Has Done More Than Enough to Solidify His Role

In 2017, the value of versatility seems to be criminally underrated amongst the general population of football fans.

Take Randall Cobb, for example. Ever since he was issued a $10 million dollar contract in 2015 after a stellar season, he has—to many—fallen short of the productivity that many would think a wide receiver making that much money should be achieving.

The reality is, for a team with $18.3 million dollars in cap space, Cobb's contract is just right. Especially considering all of the off-the-grid contributions Cobb makes on the field. He and Aaron Rodgers are familiar, Cobb knows what to expect and vice versa, he can be utilized in a variety of ways—whether it be out of the backfield, out wide or from the slot where he makes his money—and he can prove useful on special teams.

That's just at a primary skill position. Could you imagine the backlash for any positive remarks made about a backup offensive lineman who hasn't performed up-to-speed and is recognized as a "human turnstile" in pass protection?

You don't have to imagine.

Don Barclay represents all that is inconsistency, yet, is the most versatile of the Packers' 14 offensive linemen currently on the active roster. He's played both left and right tackle positions including the interior guard spots. He's also played some center during his four full seasons with the Packers. (Barclay missed all of 2014.)

That 2014 season may have led to the tumultuous happenings of his following season, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in an August practice that year. It's believed to have impacted his play in his limited action, specifically in the week 15 match-up against the Cardinals.

Barclay surrendered four sacks to go along with his team-high nine in 2015, and at the time, it was believed to have led to his demise in Green Bay. However, the Packers chose to re-sign him to a one-year deal in both 2016 and 2017, just a few months ago.

The big influences behind retaining Barclay two years in a row rests on both his valuable depth and versatility. He's plugged into multiple spots along the offensive line as stated above over the last few seasons, including helping block for Eddie Lacy during his 2013 rookie season in which he rushed for 1,178 yards. That was the year Barclay started 14 games as a right tackle.

Even despite that brief glimpse into Barclay's ability's that year, he may not function as well on an island, or, one-on-one against a pass-rusher. His performance seems to naturally look better as an interior guard, which is where he started one game last season in place of T.J. Lang.

Keeping Barclay around also gives the Packers a sense of insurance in the event that starting center Corey Linsley has any setbacks, whether they be at the start of training camp or during the season. Linsley is scheduled to be ready for the start of camp, but the Packers may try to keep him on the shelf for an extended period of time as a precaution.

The idea of Barclay taking an immense leap in 2017 in any given situation he's needed can be entertained. Both head coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers have praised him this off-season, noting his flexible capabilities as a player.

"You look at a guy who has started at tackle for us, started at guard for us, and now is in line to be our backup center, that's fantastic," Rodgers said in June. "I just give him a lot of credit. He's had a great approach and he's a great teammate. I think this is an important offseason for him to continue to show this team how valuable he is to it."

In a perfect world, Barclay won't be needed this upcoming season. But he's a good puzzle piece to have in the event of an emergency and a drastically underappreciated one at that.

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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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Comments (13)

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croatpackfan's picture

July 06, 2017 at 06:27 am

Agree with your opinion Zach... There was time when I was voting for Barclay release, but at the end of the day, it should be taken in consideration that he was playing 2015 season still under influence of one season out of football. There is a reason why Comeback Player of the Year Award is announcing!

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The TKstinator's picture

July 06, 2017 at 06:41 am

Playing under the influence is a bad idea for anyone.
Keep the shiny side up and ride safe, amigo!

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Since'61's picture

July 06, 2017 at 07:15 am

Would Barclay still be with the team if the Packers were able to resign Tretter? I'm not so sure about that. Barclay became important for the Packers to retain once they lost both Lang and Tretter, both of whom could backup at Center behind Linsley. Tretter also filled in at Guard and Tackle and was better than Barclay at those positions as well. Maybe Barclay can be effective at Center, then again, maybe not. Hopefully we won't need to find out. Thanks, Since '61

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Handsback's picture

July 06, 2017 at 07:28 am

I think you are right in that once Green Bay let Tretter go, and rightly so, they had to sign or find another Barclay. He's a great insurance policy for a few games, just not for a season.

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dobber's picture

July 06, 2017 at 08:50 am

Tretter, by himself, doesn't fix the problem because it was likely Tretter OR Lang/Evans. Tretter plugs into a starting position either at C or RG because you're not going to pay him what it would take to keep him so he could be your versatile, backup OL. Still need someone to back up on the interior. You're right: people forget that both Tretter AND Lang could play C (Lang had filled in there in the past), and both could play all 3 interior line positions, but I feel you're always weaker when you have to displace multiple starters (move Lang to C plug in backup RG) as opposed to plugging in a single player at the position of need.

In essence, I see the signing of Evans as putting the Packers in essentially the same place right now as if they'd resigned one of Tretter or Lang...and actually, the position is a little more tenuous as Evans--even though he's been very durable--will have questions regarding where he is in terms of athleticism and ability at this stage in his career. We can't romanticize Tretter, either: the guy could not stay on the field, and I would be uneasy relying on him in a key spot.

The roster flexibility the Packers gain on Sundays by keeping Barclay has to be offset by what's been seen on the field. Maybe, as you say, he'll be better in a phone booth at C than he has been at other positions since his injury. At RT prior to being hurt, he was game--and I give him credit for that--but only serviceable. We're now two full seasons past his ACL, and he's got to be better. Otherwise we KNOW the Packers need to do better at that spot.

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nostradanus's picture

July 06, 2017 at 07:59 am

With the salary cap and 53 man roster the team needs a few Donnie Barclay's. While he will never be a HOF player, he has made himself an asset due to his knowledge and versatility. He is the ultimate "team guy" and a locker room favorite. An NFL team can't afford to have 53 Pro Bowl players, the salary cap wont allow it, thats why these guys stick around, they carve out a niche' (Barclay OT, OG, C, Jared Bush CB, S, ST, Kuhn FB, RB, ST, Janis WR, ST, Banjo DB, ST) and a few actually hit a nice payday (Micah Hyde S, CB, ST)
The more you can do, the more value you have in the NFL, I like Donnie Barclay, he's one of the good guys.
NostrDANus

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dobber's picture

July 06, 2017 at 08:52 am

I fully agree...but the question is: can you do better on the field? I'm all for team leadership, but you can't give a roster spot to a guy you don't feel with any confidence that you can play. I think they can do better...and maybe with a street guy like Nick Mangold, who probably won't take much to sign at this point.

...of course, just about every team does that (gives a roster spot to guy they don't want to use) with its backup QBs, though.

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TXCHEESE's picture

July 06, 2017 at 10:37 am

Signing Barclay buys the Packers a year to develop some of their young guys. He's never been, or probably never will be spectacular, but he's extremely solid and a gamer. My guess is he is probably gone next year.

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CJ Bauckham's picture

July 06, 2017 at 11:45 am

'Barclay Has Done More Than Enough to Solidify His Role'

Barclay's role is to keep the bench warm.. so, yes.. he has certainly done more than enough to solidify that

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Packer_Fan's picture

July 06, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I think the Pack at this point in the season feels they need him. From his familiarity to his veteran ability. And I am OK with that. He can't do tackle anymore, but center and guard is good for now. But if any of the young lineman emerge and do center and guard position just as good as Barclay, then I could see him expendable. We won't know until August.

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

July 06, 2017 at 02:51 pm

"The reality is, for a team with $18.3 million dollars in cap space, Cobb's contract is just right."
IMO cap space doesn't correlate to whether or not a contract is justified: Only the player's production does. For example, should Cobb's deal be re-done to pay him more if the Packers had $26M in cap space, or for less if they only had $6M in cap space?

"The idea of Barclay taking an immense leap in 2017 in any given situation he's needed can be entertained."
Expecting an "immense leap" from a journeyman going into his 6th NFL season seems extremely optimistic. And if "any given situation" includes playing LT, Rodgers surviving would be a more realistic goal. IMO Barclay should only backup inside and he's the kind of player teams regularly try to replace.

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pack13xwc's picture

July 07, 2017 at 02:15 am

Fortunately they have Bakh and Spriggs at LT before Barclay or whomever. David B has been fairly durable for the most part and way dependable. Spriggs was a Football Writers Association ALL America LT at Indiana, projected as round 1 or 2 pick so could be a steal at rd2 going into yr2. He could potentially switch out for Bulaga too like Bulaga has already at RT.

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Turophile's picture

July 07, 2017 at 02:51 am

It is a fallacy that Barclay is versatile. He cannot play tackle and should never be allowed to. Also, his interior line play is poor in pass protection.

Overall ability wise, I see him as worse than Marshall Newhouse or Allen Barbre, and he shouldn't even be allowed to carry Evan Dietrich-Smith's jock strap. He is an 'urgent replacement' level player who should have disappeared off the Packers roster far more quickly than he has.

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