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Cory's Corner: Packers future success hinges on OL

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Cory's Corner: Packers future success hinges on OL

The Packers’ offensive line will have plenty of depth this season as long as everyone stays healthy.

But what about next year and beyond?

Guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are unrestricted free agents after this season. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is an unrestricted free agent. Super sub J.C. Tretter is an unrestricted free agent. And ironically right tackle Don Barclay is an unrestricted free agent after this season after inking a one-year deal in April.

That’s a huge part of the offensive line that could potentially walk. When healthy, the best player of the bunch is easily Sitton. He played in 1,140 snaps this year — the most of his career. Yet, he turns 30 on June 16 and we all know how skittish general manager Ted Thompson gets once a player turns 30.

Bakhtiari is the cheapest starter right now with only a $1.7 million cap hit for this season. While there have been plenty of frustrating moments from Bakhtiari, he’s still young and learning especially when it comes to leading the offensive line in penalties. He turns 25 on Sept. 30 and if he’s given a long-term deal, it means that the Packers trust Aaron Rodgers’ health with a player that has earned plenty of respect that wasn’t as tough in college as he is now.

J.C. Tretter is easily the most versatile. He could play anywhere on the line and if the Packers sign him early, he could be called upon to take over at guard if both Sitton and Lang leave.

Offensive line is considered the most boring position on the field. Their job is to just get in the way long enough for a running back to scamper through a hole or for a quarterback to find the open receiver.

However offensive line is very important, especially when Rodgers starts to hit his twilight years. He’s going to want players that he can trust that will risk their health for his.

Rodgers was sacked 46 times in the regular season last year, which was second in the NFL. That cannot happen moving forward. Rodgers has to be able to get his feet set, make a good throw and not overscramble and run just because he starts to feel the pocket begin to evaporate.

For as long as Rodgers is healthy, the Packers have a beating heart. Yet, the moment he goes down to injury, Green Bay knows getting to a Super Bowl is likely out of the question.

How Thompson addresses the offensive line will not only be felt for years to come but if he nails it and the line turns into one of the best in the league — look out. It already has the world’s best quarterback.

Just think what this team could accomplish with an offensive line like Dallas’s. More holes for Eddie Lacy to run through but more importantly, more time for Rodgers to let his receivers win one-on-one matchups. Give Rodgers time and he will use his own scalpel to carve the opponent’s secondary.

The offensive isn’t as sexy as skill positions, but this unit holds the key to future success. 


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

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

It's going to be really interesting how this shakes out. I personally think they keep Lang and Tretter for sure and Sitton IF he'll take a bit of a discount and maybe a 2 or 3 year contract. Bakhtiari is going to test the market and rightfully so. IMO he's not worth what some team is going to throw at him in Free Agency, and some team will. It's crazy what $70 Million in Cap Space makes Teams do in Free Agency.

dobber's picture

This is the last big payday for Sitton and Lang. I don't think they'll take 2 years, and I think they'd be fools if they did. Look at Sitton: he's dropped 20 lbs coming into OTAs...he knows what this contract year means for him. They brought in two rookies, neither of whom anyone hopes plays very much this year but they'll have to have some opportunity to assess them.

I could see any two of these three being resigned based on how the rookies look and general performance. I could also see a scenario where all three of the starters walk. Based on TTs past tendencies, the only one I would expect to get a new deal before January (if TT decided to re-up) is Bakhtiari, and I don't see him NOT testing the market. This will make for good drama: I'm just glad it's not my job to sort it all out...

ray nichkee's picture


Nick Perry's picture

That's true dobbler but the reason I suggested 2 or 3 years (Likely 3 years) is Sitton is going to be 30 years old and with his back he might get a 4 year contract which much of the time doesn't mean anything anyways. With his back it's going to be all about the guaranteed money teams want to give him. T.G. is about 15 months younger but coming off shoulder surgery. If TT sticks to him tendencies maybe he'd let both walk which IMO would be a huge mistake. Rodgers isn't getting younger and trying to replace both could be dangerous to Rodgers health. Sometimes the "Payday" isn't the biggest factor in where a player goes, sometimes they love the organization and as long as the offer is somewhat competitive they'll stay. You're right, will make for "Good Drama", God I hate "Good Drama".. : )

Tundraboy's picture

I think Bahktiari's ankle may never be the same, thats a lot of damage and that can not be good especially for an LT. So unless he has a phenomenal year and even then with the cap room available for other teams SOMEONE is going to offer him crazy money and he'll be too expensive to keep.

Handsback's picture

The Packers have this year to play out and see how those 5 guys play. If I had to bet....Lang and Sitton will be resigned. Yes there could be turnover next season, but I'm going to enjoy this year to see if this Oline will take it to the SB!

Dan Collins's picture

If you want to keep Rodgers healthy, make sure there are receivers who can get open.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah and make sure they run routes that get them open too.

ray nichkee's picture

Other than the turn styles that filled in for bahk th WR get alot of blame for the 46 sacks.

lou's picture

The O-Line is KEY this year and going forward knowing that an offensive performance last year near prior levels could have gotten the Packers into the Super Bowl, special teams improved in all aspects and the defense was much improved overall. Agreed that the blame should be spread proportionately for the sacks, the complete whifs draw the most attention of course and those are by the O-Linemen. Wade Phillips pressure scheme neutralized the wideouts minus Nelson and every other team followed suit. Yes Rodgers does hold the ball longer than most but he can point to the best TD to Interception Rate in history because of it. Fortunately both backs have improved their blitz pickup ability. The reference to the Cowboys line is certainly true, with virtual no bodies behind center, McFadden ran like a Pro Bowl back and the year before Murray looked like Jim Brown reborn but looked like "just a guy" after he left. Thompson has his work cut out that is for sure and I am sure he realizes how important it is to keep most of the line intact, he surely remembers sending both Rivera and Whale packing and the length of time it took to get the line back to that level. It is a sure bet that even if he wanted to spend more in free agency after last season he was holding on to as much cash as he could knowing the state of the O-Line this year.

Tundraboy's picture

Welcome back Lou.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Endlessly repeating that Tretter can play all 5 OL positions does not make it true. I am not at all sure Tretter can play OG at a high level or even RT for that matter. Edit: I am not saying that Tretter can't play LT or OG in a pinch as an emergency back-up, but I think we are talking about the starters on GB's OL in 2017. Also, I've read about Bulaga moving inside to OG. Well, maybe, but I am having a hard time envisioning Bulaga executing a pull. He had trouble with reach blocks and cutting off backside pursuit last season. JMO.

MarkinMadison's picture

I have that same suspicion about Tretter. Maybe the reality is he doesn't quite have the feet to play T, and doesn't quite have the strength and bulk to play G. So no one knows what the heck to do with him. Jack of all trades, master of none?

I get what you are saying about Bulaga, but if he has a mobility limitation then isn't it easier to cover over on the inside on the outside? I also think Bulaga was battling a knee issue all year last year. He may never be truly healthy, but if he can be healthier that would help. Otherwise, it might be better to take the one-year cap hit ($4.8M after this year) next year and keep one of the other players around.

Playing glass-half-empty here, the Packers potentially have a lot of sub-par choices to make next off season. Do you give big money to Sitton at 30 with his back history? Do you give big money to Bakh when some consider him to be the weakest link on the O-line? Do you take the dead money hit and let Bulaga go because he cannot stay healthy? Do you trust that Tretter can go from being a utility man to a solid starter? Do you trust that Barclay will get better the further he is removed from his knee surgery? All of which leads me to believe that signing Lang is the only safe bet.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Might Tretter go back to center and Linsley to guard? Resign Lang, Sitton moves on, Bakh leaves for a big payday. Spriggs becomes our Pro-Bowl LT.

Since '61's picture

Since 3 out of 5 OL starters are playing for contracts we should get solid play from the OL this season if they remain healthy. Their health is not only key to the success of the offense but it will also be key to their future contracts. I agree with Cory that if any of the starters are offered an extension during the season it will be Bahk. Lang and Sutton I believe will need to come through the season relatively healthy before TT makes them an offer. If the line remains healthy Tretter will not get much exposure and probably resign with. GB. But who knows all 3 starters may want t o test the FA waters before resigning with the Packers. In which case we may be looking at the future OL of the Vikings. LOL. Thanks, Since '61

Yooper's picture

2015 season just about killed me - Our receivers made the D backs from every other team we played look all world in man coverage while our own "MVP Quarterback" scrambled for his life looking for some one to get open - We need tall, quick receivers who catch the ball and then the O line will be fine!!:^)

DrealynWilliams's picture

*Takes a look at the last 5 Super Bowl winning WR groups*

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"And ironically right tackle Don Barclay is an unrestricted free agent"

How is this ironic? Did you mean Happenstance?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The author noted correctly that Barclay will be a free agent: "And ironically right tackle Don Barclay is an unrestricted free agent after this season after inking a one-year deal in April."

The author incorrectly used the word ironic, which was Jeremy's point. Jeremy is correct: Barclay being a FA in 2017 is happenstance - it is not ironic. DPF corrected Jeremy even though Jeremy was perfectly right.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Since we're talking O-Line and the future of it...

Are we beginning to like the Spriggs pick more & more?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Did someone not like the pick? I liked it immediately. I looked back at the article below (see link). Olwig420, Txike, and MITM hated the pick. Everyone else either were okay with it, liked it, loved it.

Is it irony or happenstance (Jeremy J Brown can correct me if necessary) that one of the posters that did not provide an opinion on the Spriggs pick was - wait for it - Drealyn.

[I am just messing with you - I am sure that somewhere you wrote a comment liking the Spriggs pick - it just isn't in this particular article/comment section. Here is all I found for you: Someone complained about trolls who hated the pick, and Drealyn wrote: "My bad. Evan was right. I should have kept it on the DL." And then some stuff on Fackrell.

DrealynWilliams's picture

There were people that either didn't like the pick or was just OK with it. My comment was for those folks. I knew nothing about Spriggs before the pick, but I love the pick because I know priority #1 (thinking about next year's contracts never crossed my mind). I probably didn't comment about Spriggs in his article because I didn't know or watch anything on him. But I do remember saying an OL being drafted in the 1st or 2nd wouldn't surprise me at all before and during the draft.

Lol, I think that quote was my reply about having the "live chat" in the comment section.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I was JK. By my rough count, 3 people who don't post often hated it. 16 liked it. 4 did not explicitly state their opinion but seemed okay with it. We are not all in the hate-TT-all-the-time-no-matter-what camp.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Lol, how likely is it that those 3 accounts that hated the pick and doesn't post often are also the same person?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

5 ligament tears sounds awful. I am no expert, but there are tears and then there are tears. Regular attention sounds a bit ominous. But Bakh passed his physical, apparently, so GB will have good info on the injury. Of course, the ligament tears may have factored into TT's decision to trade up for Spriggs.

Teflon Ted's picture

Really excited about this season and the offensive line is a huge reason. I predict this line will go down as one of the all time greatest. A top 10 o-line of all time great. This was the same line that dominated the Seahawks in that NFC Championship game and they are all back for one more run and yes, they will do it.

Next year, Sitton gets let go probably and even Lang but Teflon Ted will keep this train rolling along. Nobody does it better than Teflon Ted at keeping teams competitive year in and year out. His track record of success speaks for itself. We're going to be just fine. Enjoy this o-line this season folks.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

"Just think what this team could accomplish with an offensive line like Dallas’s. "

You can dream about this, but you must blot out the nightmare of the multiple losing season's it took to accumulate that line. Early number 1 draft choices I believe. No thanks.

Tundraboy's picture

I'm just worried about this year. Well not worried, focused is more like it. This year's outcome will determine next year's strategy and challenges. Team has enough on its plate already. Like how's Montgomery.

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