Barclay-Less Packers Looking for New OL Swiss Army Knife

You can't put a price on a versatile offensive lineman who can play all five positions, and that's just who the Green Bay Packers had in Don Barclay.

Over a five-year career in Green Bay, Barclay didn't so much as master all five positions along the offensive line, but he had enough of an understanding for each position to be able to plug into each one in the event of emergency.

That essentially defines his career with the Packers. Someone reliable whose intellect proves as valuable in a variety of situations. Barclay wasn't a Pro Bowl tackle or a first-team All-Pro guard, but his utility role was drastically understated amongst many.

Barclay didn't see the field in 2017, however. In the team's first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Barclay suffered an ankle injury that ultimately landed him on injured reserve to begin the regular season. It was a blow that the Packers could've survived had two other backup offensive linemen not landed on I.R. as well.

Both Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs followed Barclay's suit with a foot and hamstring injury respectively. The 10 offensive linemen the Packers began the season with were beginning to look likenon-existentent unit. The fact that they were playing without a single healthy tackle at one point is why they signed Ulrick John off of the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad.

The Packers could've used Barclay early on in the season, but thankfully, they're well prepared for similar-styled players without Barclay.

Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick serve as interior guards, but can also play center in case Corey Linsley isn't capable. That's unlikely, considering Linsley and right guard Jahri Evans are the only two players on offense for the Packers this season to play 100 percent of all snaps.

The Packers have been so decimated along the offensive line this season that McCray has needed to play tackle in a few different situations. A spot that they would've more than likely plugged Barclay into since they trust his ability, whether on an island or on the interior.

Maybe that wouldn't be the best case for the Packers. To many, his sub-optimal performance against the Arizona Cardinals near the end of the 2015 season looms large. He surrendered a plethora of sacks at the expense of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked eight times that evening, tying a career-high for a single game.

The Packers may try to re-sign Barclay to get around the return-from-I.R. rule, that designates they can only upgrade two players per season from I.R. They'd have to do so at a later date if Barclay is still in the plans.

Barclay has played in 62 career games for the Packers since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, as well as making 24 starts. He started a career-high 14 games in 2013 when Rodgers broke his left clavicle and missed seven games. Barclay has also played in eight playoff games.

Now, McCray -- on a one-year deal -- will likely take Barclay's place as the most versatile linemen the Packers house on their roster. That automatically ascends his value, making his case to be re-signed during the offseason a rather strong one.

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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 (31)

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NashvilleCheesehead's picture

October 26, 2017 at 05:09 am

Swiss cheese comes to mind with our OL more than Swiss Army knife....

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Tundraboy's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:10 am

Swiss Cheese. Love that one. I was thinking anything but a Sieve would be good

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The TKstinator's picture

October 26, 2017 at 05:53 am

He looks very mean in that photo.

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Don Hutson's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:29 pm

Pretty dull.knife. Wenniger, not Victornox!

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The TKstinator's picture

October 26, 2017 at 06:41 am

You had me at “interior guards”.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:09 am

Deleted .

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The TKstinator's picture

October 26, 2017 at 06:33 pm

Depleted?

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The TKstinator's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:27 pm

De-cleated!

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Somedumbname's picture

October 27, 2017 at 02:25 am

De-feated!

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Handsback's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:31 am

Barclay was needed but as the article points out the younger guys now have some experience under them and the coaches like what they see. Barclay just got caught up in a numbers game...moving on to younger and cheaper players.

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al bundy's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:28 am

Ya right cheaper

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Hematite's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:46 am

We will survive without Barclay.
Without Rodgers, probably not so much.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 26, 2017 at 07:57 am

McCray has really impressed me overall... He has played 3 of the 5 positions so far this year and has held up reasonably well considering he had never played before. I would say his LT play was probably the worst, and his LG play was the best of the positions he has played.
But having a guy like McCray who can play any 5 of the positions is very valuable. He essentially has replaced Barclay.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 26, 2017 at 08:30 am

I agree that McCray is a capable interior backup but I'd rather not see him outside ever again. Hopefully Bulaga and Bakh can stay on the field for the short term. If they can bring back either of the two OTs on IR, I'll feel much better about the OT backup situation.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 26, 2017 at 08:46 am

He honestly played much better on the outside then I ever thought he would have been. Considering he never played there, and then was basically thrown out there. Was he perfect, no. But he played better then I thought he would have.

I agree though. I hope he can stay inside from here on out.

To take it a step farther. I don't want to see our back up OT's anymore this season. They have missed to much time already.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:06 am

This season. Faint hope on that. This season has been the season of injuries. Odds are both our OT starters will be lost for the rest of the season. Injuries like ribs, hamstrings, ankle take a while to heal, and are more than likely to be reinjuried. If both last out this season, it will be testament to their mental toughness.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 26, 2017 at 08:26 am

Anyone can line up anywhere on the field. When Guion played OG last year, it didn't add to his 'versatility", it was simply a matter of necessity. There is a difference between being forced to play a role and being able to play it well. Barclay playing outside was more of the former than the latter.

I don't see any need to find a guy that can be the primary backup at all 5 spots. Playing the edge is very different than playing inside. Game day rosters usually have 7 OL so it is perfectly acceptable to have one of the two reserves as a swing tackle and the other backing up the 3 interior spots.

Justin McCray is a decent primary backup at the 3 inside spot with Lucas Patrick behind him. I think Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy can capably handle swing OT backup duty. it is my hope that one or both of those two will return in a month or so when they are eligible to return. I'd be pretty happy to see those 4 on the depth chart behind the 5 primary starters.

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dobber's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:03 am

"That's unlikely, considering Linsley and right guard Jahri Evans are the only two players on offense for the Packers this season to play 100 percent of all snaps."

Linsley hasn't had the best track record with regard to injury over his short career, though. As long as he's #1 on the depth chart, you need to have a #2 you feel confident can play significant snaps.

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dobber's picture

October 26, 2017 at 01:23 pm

Remember also his hammy last year kept him out all of preseason and on the PUP list...when he conveniently was ready to play when JC Tretter got hurt.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:08 am

Justin McCray will be an ERFA in 2018, right? Not sure why the reference to his one year contract is in the article.

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Since'61's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:15 am

It would be very difficult to find a player who can play all 5 OL positions well. The footwork is different coming off the snap and the assignments in the run game can vary considerably. Yes, you can plug a player into any position but that does not mean they will play well at that position. In the case of the OL it could result in an RB or QB becoming seriously injured.

I'm fine with players who can back up the interior OL slots and another player who can swing at OT. At this point I'll be happy if our 5 starters can play when the team returns from their bye week. Thanks, Since '61

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Turophile's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:17 am

Barclay isn't a Swiss army knife, he just isn't.

He has already proved he cannot play tackle - he is a disaster area there. He is less of a liability at guard, but still isn't that good there. Center looked to be his best spot.

I would much, MUCH rather have a backup that can play T/G and another guy that can play C/G, than put someone in a situation they cannot cope with.

It may surprise you to hear that I did feel the Packers missed Barclay when he went on IR, but that was due to shortages at C/G, not at tackle.

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lou's picture

October 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm

A fair statement would be "he can't play Left Tackle" He had almost 2 years at Right Tackle with Bulaga down and more than held his own. He never had enough in season snaps at Guard to evaluate how his play would have been inside and as far as Center the same would hold true but it was obvious he did not look comfortable as a Center in the pre-season the last 2 years. I hope he catches on as a backup and has a decent NFL career. What a surprise, both of the free agent offensive lineman when called on to play huge minutes held their own and the 2 highly drafted Tackles are on IR. One is in serious jeopardy based on his pre-season performance and the other who was a lower draft choice looks like he may be starter going forward.

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Turophile's picture

October 26, 2017 at 04:02 pm

sorry Lou, I didn't like his play at RT either. I'll agree to disagree with that.

That doesn't mean I don't wish him well. We may yet see him back in GB, if more injuries occur and he is still available.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 27, 2017 at 09:33 am

"more than held his own." As far as I can tell, this is a meaningless phrase.

It is a euphemism that is used when a player is anything from terrible to serviceable.

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lou's picture

October 27, 2017 at 11:26 am

Semantics aside, call it what you want but going 12-4 with him at RT can't be argued.

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al bundy's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:31 am

Come-on guys a toast to don b: hey wait there are a bunch oh holes in my glass. Darn

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Razer's picture

October 26, 2017 at 09:40 am

This is like talking about someone after they died. Easy pickins talking about Don Barclay being thrust into O-line positions that he wasn't familiar with or suitable for. Bottomline is that he is a battler that filled anywhere on our O-line. I hope he connects with another team and plays well. He deserves it.

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TXCHEESE's picture

October 26, 2017 at 11:02 am

Agree with you Razer, Barclay is a pretty tough battler. His run blocking is actually pretty good. I would not be surprised at all if he doesn't end up on someone's roster soon, if he's healthy.

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dobber's picture

October 26, 2017 at 01:28 pm

Don't look now...

https://www.profootballrumors.com/2017/10/nfc-north-notes-lions-tate-rob...

...another Packer castoff heading for "Packers East"?

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Dzehren's picture

October 29, 2017 at 07:24 pm

He should have been cut 2 years ago.

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