Cory's Corner: Bring Back T.J. Lang

Consistency is the key to a successful offensive line. 

How many Packers had at least 20 snaps at right guard last season? Quick, I know the question is probably haunting you. The answer is four — Byron Bell (515), Justin McCray (344), Lucas Patrick (189) and Alex Light (25). 

The common denominator between every single one of them is that they are all mediocre pass blockers. Left guard was only other offensive line position that had nearly as many players get snaps — Lane Taylor (881), Justin McCray (104) and Lucas Patrick (89). 

Lack of consistency on the offensive line is one of the reasons why Aaron Rodgers was fifth in the NFL in hurries last year. 

But there’s one way to fix that: bring back a familiar face. It’s time to welcome back T.J. Lang and lock down the right guard spot. Lang was released by the Lions on Friday as Detroit is creating nearly $9 million in cap space. He was Detroit’s best offensive lineman before missing games with a neck, concussion and back injuries. 

What’s troubling is that Lang, 31, has six diagnosed NFL concussions. We all know that number could very well be higher because obviously it doesn’t get reported every time a player gets his “bell rung.”

However, Lang has consulted with a neurologist and wants to continue playing. 

“The biggest question I had (for them) was ‘Do you think I’ll be safe to return once I’m fully back healthy?’ And I think most of them said yeah,” Lang said last month. “And that gave me a lot of comfort knowing that, hey, when this thing’s all settled and gone then basically hit the reset button and continue to play.”

Lang will likely jump at the chance of being able to block for Rodgers again and Rodgers will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that one of the better guards could be anchored in Green Bay. 

And what’s more, the Packers will able to get Lang on a prove-it deal. He has started 94 games for the Packers and earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2016 before he signed with Detroit the following season. 

It’s time to reinvest in Rodgers. Give Rodgers the confidence that he deserves to succeed and also give newly minted head coach Matt LaFleur a suitable cast in order to operate his zone-blocking scheme. 

The Packers tried to operate with Scotch tape at right guard last season and it blew up in their face. The right side of the line turned out to be a rusty gate that ended up being open too much of the time. 

General manager Brian Gutekunst has a chance to fix that not just by bringing in one of the best guards, but someone that knows the Green Bay locker room. There would be no learning curve. 

This isn’t just a good move, this is the obvious move. 

-------------------

Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

1 points

Comments (65)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ricky's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:14 am

Six concussions, at a minimum. He "thinks" most of his doctors said he'd be OK to play again. Back and neck injuries. This is risky for Lang. A situation very similar to Sam Shields. It might be good for the Packers, but would it be in Lang's best interests? Of course he wants to play. The question- should he?

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
jannes bjornson's picture

March 09, 2019 at 07:24 am

I thought he said he was considering retirement.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Packerpasty's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:44 am

he did say that....his wife is from Michigan, she wants to stay in that area...my bet is he retires...im sure there are other options for the Packers other than a guy with that many concussions...

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Old School's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:45 am

Of course the RG is a mediocre pass blocker. This isn’t Lake Woebegone and everybody isn’t above average. Is there a better spot on offense to put your weakest link?

Why spend millions on an old, oft injured guy?

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Turophile's picture

March 10, 2019 at 04:24 pm

File the "bring back T.J." in with the "We should be chasing Antonio Brown" wastebasket.

T.J. was getting injured each year at the end of his time with the Packers. He gutted it out on the field for many games. Now he is older, I don't think he can play injured and still hold it together, like he used to. The Packers realised Father Time had caught up with T.J, and Mr. Time is someone whose victory can only be postponed for a while.

The Packers have moved on. This doesn't mean I didn't like T.J. (I did), but you have to know when to fold em.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
MarkinMadison's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:40 am

A "prove it" deal is what you sign when you are coming off of an injury and hope to get a long-term deal for your "real" market value. I don't think anyone is giving a Lang a 4-year deal when he is 32.

He knows the system. Counter: the system is about to change.

We're done with scotch tape/rotating cycle of aging free-agents/unproven youngsters. Counter: He's 31, not 27, and he only played in six games last year.

Rodgers is familiar with him. Counter: So was Nelson, and so is Cobb, and look what that has gotten them so far.

I'm not saying I can't see the Packers picking him up on the cheap side, the REALLY cheap side, but I just don't know that he is THE answer to anything right now.

+ REPLY
7 points
8
1
dobber's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:19 am

LaF has said he wants more nimble OL who can pull and get out in front of edge runs. That's not Lang's game.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
jannes bjornson's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:36 am

That means an upgrade at both guard spots.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
dobber's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:40 am

Yup.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
The TKstinator's picture

March 09, 2019 at 03:28 pm

Especially the “interior” guard spots.

(I got you, ZJ!)

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Old School's picture

March 09, 2019 at 04:02 pm

Well, Taylor is under contract for a while.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
The TKstinator's picture

March 09, 2019 at 04:17 pm

And if GB can upgrade, he’d make a nice reserve.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
carlos's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:09 pm

Maybe Taylor should be moved to right tackle and back up Bulaga if we can replace him with someone better. Especially with Bulaga’s injuries.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
mamasboy's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:38 am

I wish we would have believed Shields when he said he was good to go! We could have saved a draft pick. Watch the Vikings sign Lang.

+ REPLY
-5 points
1
6
dobber's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:18 am

Let's not romanticize Shields. Yes, he was once as close to a shut-down CB as the Packers have had in recent memory, but he only played about 1/3 of the Rams defensive snaps as their 4th CB (behind Talib, Peters, and Robey-Coleman), and was OK. Even when Talib got hurt, Shields had 2 games where he didn't log a defensive snap. He didn't come back and become their keystone DB.

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 09, 2019 at 02:19 pm

And he wasn't good to go in time. He hurt himself in game one of 2016 and was out the rest of the year, for which GB paid him full price. He needed the entire 2017 season to recover, meaning GB would have had to pay him over $12M for being on the IR, and then his contract would have expired anyway. In 2018, Shields was a UFA. He was a lower-end 3rd CB, but he was inexpensive.

Cutting Shield was the correct call. It was obvious. A no-brainer.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
The TKstinator's picture

March 09, 2019 at 04:23 pm

BUT: if we ignore the facts, it was a disastrous call.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
mamasboy's picture

March 10, 2019 at 05:31 pm

You and Dobber need to chill a little. I wasn't talking about bringing Sheilds back, but that's where you went with it. Lang's situation could be very different and if he's going to play somewhere and still has something in the tank, it might be worth it for the Packers to get him cheap. If he gets hurt again, it won't be any different than all of the other linemen we have getting hurt all the time. Chill out men!!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
LambeauPlain's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:44 am

TJ could be a great insurance policy for $2-$3 mil.

Will he play for that?

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
Coldworld's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:48 am

The packers are notoriously averse to playing people with his kind of injury history and moreover he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Taken together with his age, at which most linemen are suffering from general wear and tear and I think this suggestion stems more from sentiment than sense even if Lang wants to keep playing.

+ REPLY
10 points
10
0
Guam's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:05 am

Well said Coldworld.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
the real russ letlow's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:46 am

The risk is much greater than the reward. Concussions are nothing to screw with and our medical staff is more conservative than most. Lang was a great Packer but I think the next time he is in Lambeau Field should be for his retirement press conference.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Johnblood27's picture

March 09, 2019 at 06:59 am

Hard PASS.

It is time to be new again.

Go Younger.

Nuff said...

+ REPLY
2 points
5
3
jannes bjornson's picture

March 09, 2019 at 07:28 am

There are great prospects in rounds one through three. Zeitler is out of the picture.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Rossonero's picture

March 09, 2019 at 07:08 am

Ted was right to let him walk when he did. Even if we did bring him back, there's no way he'd play even 14-15 games. Probably 8 or less.

The Packers are also good about thinking about the whole person's health after football. Examples like Nick Collins, Johnny Jolly and Jonathan Franklin come to mind.

Sometimes the best move is no move at all. Let TJ enjoy his money and keep his health intact.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Wilment's picture

March 09, 2019 at 07:25 am

I understand we had a revolving door there last year, and that needs to be addressed, but adding another banged up individual there who by his own admission is considering retirement is a bad Idea. I like TJ, but my advice to him is if your first thought is to retire, listen to your body and the voice in your head. I don't want to see the guy get seriously injured. Packers need to get a healthy younger body in there, via free agency or the draft.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Dzehren's picture

March 09, 2019 at 07:29 am

Draft Lindstrom from BC @ 30 would be a great selection.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Turophile's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:09 am

I'd consider him at #44

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Old School's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:58 am

Ditto. I’d like to get an OL on the second day. I’d trade down and get mor second day picks. But the guy I like better is Yodny Cajuste at around #60.

I don’t have much confidence in Spriggs, McCray, Patrick, etc.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Demon's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:26 am

Yeah we know Old School youve mentioned trading down numerous times. Heres a bit of info for you, teams ae also allowed to trade up. Maybe give that one a whirl huh?
I personally would rather take a bite from a nice fresh Honeycrisp picked from the tree rather than the horse apples you and Ted Thompson like so much.

+ REPLY
-2 points
2
4
jannes bjornson's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:40 am

He will go in the first or at the top of the second.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:18 am

I'm starting to lean towards Lindstrom bc he's more mobile than Risner. However, I love Risner's ability to also play T bc we all know Bulaga will certainly miss some games.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fthisJack's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:02 am

no thank you.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
sam1's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:08 am

Too risky for more than one obvious reason. Hope we pass, but he has been solid as a Packer!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
The TKstinator's picture

March 10, 2019 at 06:11 am

You had me at “has been”.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
4thand1's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:08 am

Some guys will sacrifice health for money in the NFL. 6 concussions maybe more? Lang is a walking mash unit and will he hold up, doubtful. In the end the choice is up to him, but you won't see teams offering much IMO. If he can stay on the field he is head and shoulders above anyone else the Packers have at RG now. What we don't need is another player on IR to finish the season.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Bert's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:33 am

If consistency is a key to the success of an offensive why sign a guy who himself isn't convinced he will be consistently available? No. Sounds like TJ needs to retire and give his body a much needed rest.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Since'61's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:39 am

I would wait until after the draft and then if Lang is still available sign him to a one year prove it deal. If he makes the team I would rather see him come in as a backup than the parade of revolving doors that we had last season.

However, I would rather try to sign a younger FA guard and draft another one or 2 OLs. If we can accomplish that then I would say there is no need to bring Lang back unless an emergency situation develops due to injuries.

It's unfortunate that his health has become a major issue because he was a warrior when healthy and a very solid player. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
vj_ostrowski's picture

March 09, 2019 at 08:44 am

What does TJ Lang have yet to prove? He’s near the end of the line. A short cheap contract would not be a “prove it” deal - it would be him finding out that the market is bad for an oft-injured, older stopgap player. “Prove it” implies there’s some long term goal with him.

+ REPLY
1 points
3
2
Jonathan Spader's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:08 am

I'm assuming Since 61' means a 1 year rental like Jahri Evans type of situation.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Since'61's picture

March 09, 2019 at 11:12 am

Exactly, a one year rental and only after the FA period and the draft so we can see what we need. If necessary we bring Lang back for depth. I’d rather have him for depth than Bell and some of the other turkeys we had last season.

Jonathan, this site has reached the point where many of the bloggers just wait to pick on and jump on every word or phrase and criticize the comment rather than read, think, respond to the entire comment and add to the discussion. It’s easier to criticize than to think and contribute.

Fortunately we still have bloggers like yourself who prefer to contribute positively rather than assail other comments. Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Coldworld's picture

March 09, 2019 at 11:55 am

Evans had been and was healthy and even he faded badly at the end. An upgrade is only an upgrade if he is playing. Lang has had more than just simple concussions recently as I understand it. I’d love to see him retire as a Packer.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 09, 2019 at 02:26 pm

Agreed, Since 61. I don't care if it is called a prove it deal or a one-year rental. The gist is that signing Lang for a cheap amount, $2M perhaps, with up to $XM as incentives would be fine. $2M plus $1M for 250 snaps, another $1M for 400 snaps, another million for 650 snaps, another for 850 snaps would be just fine with me.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
carlos's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:19 pm

I would love Lang, but as bad as concussions are necks can be a real dangerous situation. I’ve had neck issues and been cut up on neck and can be very touchy and painful at times. Just don’t want to see him down the road suffering. Too nice of a man who has a family to take care of.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:05 am

thought the same thing. Nothing left to prove. it was just the right thing to let him go couple years ago. never was any good again plus a lot of injuries since then and older of coures.
Zero reason to make an offer, even for the vet minimum. but Corys article are always like this…..

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:33 am

You can say that again.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
fastmoving's picture

March 09, 2019 at 11:41 am

sorry, just see it. dont know what went wrong.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
carlos's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:20 pm

You were fast moving- fast moving. lol

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 09, 2019 at 02:30 pm

Except he was good after GB released him. Look at that big fat CarAv 9 PFR gave him for 2017. Look at PFF's 72 above average rating PFF gave Lang for his 6 games in 2018.

Agree that letting him walk was the right course: too beat up for big money and big guarantees. No one is discussing giving Lang big money or any guaranteed money in 2019.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Jonathan Spader's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:09 am

I know you're name is fast moving but maybe you should slow down... a x6 post?!

+ REPLY
4 points
5
1
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

March 09, 2019 at 09:31 am

Yea...let's have the oft injured Bryan Bulaga at RT, and the frequently injured Lang at RG. Both bodies breaking down. The only consistency would be no consistency. Pass!

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
PeteK's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:31 am

Absolutely, would rather use the 2 mill to resign Breeland . Along with a draft pick we also have a few young low cost candidates with experience ( McCray,Lucas etc) that can compete . Remember some o linemen take time to develop . What about Spriggs at G ?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
scullyitsme's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:04 am

Will you be able to return healthy? “ I think most of my doctors said yes”. This would be hilarious if not for being kinda sad. Take your money and head off in the sunset T.J.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Lare's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:41 am

The most important factor for the offensive linemen now is if can they perform well in the new blocking scheme. If not, they're just going to be a liability to the offense.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
nostradanus's picture

March 09, 2019 at 11:27 am

The Packers took a pass on Sam Shields and he had less than 6 concussions.

They took the high road on Shields because of concerns about him as person after football, not the immediate needs of the team.

PASS

Stay classy Green Bay

that is all.......

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
The TKstinator's picture

March 10, 2019 at 06:14 am

Hey!
You’re making progress, but I think you gotta go with a single catch phrase, not two.
:)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
AgrippaLII's picture

March 09, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Age and injuries have caught up on TJ...do you really want him to be your OL depth or would you use that roster spot for a young lineman with some upside?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dpwiener's picture

March 09, 2019 at 11:56 pm

Lang indicated that although he's considering retirement he'd really like to play for another season. It's a foregone conclusion that at least one or several teams will be willing to take a chance and sign him. So he'll be playing somewhere this year, and as long as he's going to be playing I want it to be for the Packers.

The obvious move is to pay him a cut-rate salary (maybe $2 million base) plus a heavy roster bonus (e.g., $250,000 for each game that he's active). If he stays healthy for all 16 games, he'd be well worth a total of $6 million. If he doesn't, the Packer don't lose much financially, and they can always put him on IR if he has another concussion or other serious injury, to free up a roster spot during the season.

Lang is likely to be a much better guard than any other free agent that the Packers could afford, and a better guard THIS YEAR than any draftee (other than perhaps a top-10 player). He's an upgrade over what we now have, and he buys us time.

And let's not forget the intangibles. He's tight with Aaron, so if he has a choice of teams the Packers would probably be his priority. He already made his money when Detroit outbid the Packers in 2017 (giving him $19.5 million guaranteed). Lang knows the system and the other linemen, and having him back would increase Aaron's confidence in his protection.

All-in-all, I think having the Packers sign Lang is a no-brainer (queue the snide concussion comments...) if he's open to an incentive-laden financial deal.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
BradHTX's picture

March 10, 2019 at 10:37 am

Yes, resign him — so he can retire as a Packer. But no way should he ever see the field again, at least not in any sense where the Packers rely on his health. Any other view, including that of the author, is comically out of touch with reality.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
mamasboy's picture

March 11, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Can the Packers rely on the health of any of their players? How many linemen got hurt this year? Apart from our center and left tackle, no one got by without some fairly significant injury. Sometimes the issue of injuries comes down to pure good fortune. If Lang's going to play anyway, why not with the Packers? If he has a little luck, maybe he'll have a good year. The one thing you might be able to argue is that, with the Packers going to a different run blocking scheme that requires linemen that can move, it might temper the Packers' interest.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.