Green and Bold: Where Does Matt Rotheram Fit In Packers' Final Roster?

Matt Rotheram is learning a new position to better his chances of making the final roster.

Matt Rotheram is learning a new position to better his chances of making the final roster.

The Packers' offensive line group may look crowded now, but it's on the edge of a huge transition as three starting linemen and five reserves all approach free agency in 2017. 

Left tackle David Bakhtiari and guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang are all coming up on expiring contracts after the 2016 season. 

Backup center JC Tretter; guard Josh Walker; veteran tackle Don Barclay; Vince Kowalski, re-signed in free agency this offseason; and former undrafted free agent guard Matt Rotheram will also become free agents next March. 

That means Ted Thompson and Russ Ball have to play a crucial balancing act this offseason as they reduce Green Bay's 90-man roster down to the final 53; namely, how do they keep the stable stocked for next season without allocating too many 2016 roster spots to the offensive line?

In regard to Bakhtiari, Sitton, and Lang, the team could feasibly afford to re-sign at least one out of the three. But rookie Jason Spriggs, drafted in Round 2 this year, also looks to be a candidate to replace Bakhtiari should the left tackle prove to be too spendy for the Packers in 2017. 

Green Bay could even slide Bryan Bulaga over to protect Aaron Rodgers' blind side and start Spriggs off at right tackle. The talented rookie can play both tackle spots. 

Bakhtiari, coming off his rookie contract, is looking for his first big payday after earning only $653,850 in 2015. Sitton and Lang each had salaries that averaged more than $5 million last season and are probably the league's best guard tandem; thus, it's unlikely the team could afford to bring back both. 

That means that which of the current reserve linemen Thompson and Ball choose to keep on the roster now could prove to be most important in 2016, when the starting five will undergo a transformation. 

One particular player of interest to watch is Rotheram, whom the packers signed as a rookie free agent out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. 

Thompson did not draft an offensive lineman in 2015 for the first time in his tenture as Packers GM, but Rotheram basically fit that bill. The former right guard received a free-agent contract from 15 different teams, but chose the Packers based on a positive experience during his pre-draft visit and subsequent communication with the front office. 

Rotheram landed on the practice squad after training camp in 2015, during which he played primarily at guard. 

For now, the Packers have depth behind Sitton and Lang in Walker, Kowalski, Lane Taylor, and Rotheram. That's a crowded group. 

But if Tretter walks in 2017, the depth at center will become precariously thin. 

So it's no surprise that the team has told Rotheram he will be practicing at center as well as guard during this year's offseason training activities. 

If Rotheram can move fluidly between the three interior line positions, he will greatly improve his chances of sticking around long enough to compete for a starting job in 2017. At 6'5" and 325 pounds, Rotheram has the size for either guard position, and while he'd be on the larger end for centers, if he can get the mental aspect down he can physically slot in there as well. 

The second-year player is aware of how many bodies will be competing for the same job as him in training camp, and is ready to carve out a place for himself on the depth chart, per Packers.com's Mike Spofford:

This is one of the deepest offensive lines in the NFL, without a doubt—our starting five, arguably the best five in the entire NFL, and our depth, too. With the two draft picks, the guys we’ve got coming back from last year, we’ve got a lot of people, so I’m just trying to play center, play guard, whatever I’ve got to do. I’m just looking for an opportunity.

The Packers will keep nine or 10 offensive linemen on the final roster. After Bakhtiari, Sitton, Corey Linsley, Lang, and Bulaga, the team will assuredly keep Spriggs.

The remaining three or four spots could go to any of rookie Kyle Murphy, Barclay, Taylor, Walker, Rotheram, Kowalski, center Jacob Flores, guard Cory Tucker, or tackle Josh James.

So while Rotheram's path to the final roster is by no means open, he's doing everything in his power to win out during training camp. 

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Comments (45)

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porupack's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:31 am

Good luck Kid. For a baby face, I'm pulling for ya (and hoping you mask some serious motivation and fight). If you make it through that pile of 2nd tier, fans will be proud to have another one come in from the UDFA route.

Not to deviate from your main point, but why exactly would TT not have given Tretter a 2 year contract, considering so many are up for contracts end of 2016/17 season? The guy seems worthy of a two or more year deal, and gives the team some continuity and bargaining power.

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DaTomkat's picture

May 25, 2016 at 09:51 am

Doesn't baby face look a lot like Tony Mandarich. Hope his career goes much better.

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dobber's picture

May 25, 2016 at 10:43 am

You're right...I hadn't noticed that.

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Tundraboy's picture

May 25, 2016 at 01:50 pm

Now that would be a curse. Please dont use that M word.

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The TKstinator's picture

May 26, 2016 at 04:53 pm

If he is good enough at that blocking business that those guys do, they will find a place for him on the 53.
Pretty bold, I'd say.

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porupack's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:31 am

Good luck Kid. For a baby face, I'm pulling for ya (and hoping you mask some serious motivation and fight). If you make it through that pile of 2nd tier, fans will be proud to have another one come in from the UDFA route.

Not to deviate from your main point, but why exactly would TT not have given Tretter a 2 year contract, considering so many are up for contracts end of 2016/17 season? The guy seems worthy of a two or more year deal, and gives the team some continuity and bargaining power.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 25, 2016 at 07:52 am

Would Tretter take a 2 year contract?

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Guisado's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:38 am

The chatter next off season will surely be about the rebuilt OL. There's a lot to be determined this year about what that will look like, but right now I'm thinking Lang is the only one that gets re-signed. Bak, Sitton, Barclay and Tretter all move on for bigger money. Man, that's quite an exodus of talent and leadership. It will be interesting to see how these young guys develop.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 26, 2016 at 09:06 am

Lose Lang. Keep Tretter.

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Packer_Pete's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:51 am

I am not sure he will stick around. Too much talent ahead of him. But at the very least, this means there will be good competitions.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 25, 2016 at 07:28 am

So, Walker, Rotherham, et al, will all be FAs after this season. So, if they don't play this year, the coaches and TT will have to project how good they are. If they do play, we and the coaches will have a better idea, but if they play well their price will increase. Takes some of the edge of the benefits of draft and develop.

Edit: Walker, Rotherham and Kowalski will be exclusive rights FAs. Big difference.

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 26, 2016 at 09:09 am

I actually see both Walker and Rotheram sticking. Walker would provide a talented, developing player behind Spriggs and Some combination of Bahktiari/Bulaga/Tretter. Rotheram could give us young legs inside for 2017.

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dobber's picture

May 25, 2016 at 08:42 am

This is where five preseason games might actually be somewhat beneficial: they can get a long look at some of these guys who might have an important future role with the team but that may not play once we hit September. As I recall, Rotheram got a significant raise last year to keep him from being signed off the practice squad, didn't he? Must be a reason...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 25, 2016 at 11:07 am

Rotherham got a raise to rookie minimum. That is, from $6K per week PS wage scale to $25,588 per week on December 10, 2015. That means his 2015 cap # increased from $112K to $188K for last season, and the contract he signed while on the PS calls for him to make $450K this season.

While intriguing and meaningful, GB chose to keep Walker on the 53 man roster. IDK which player is ahead in the coaches eyes.

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Since'61's picture

May 25, 2016 at 09:37 am

We can expect that the Packers will keep their starting 5 plus Spriggs and Tretter. That leaves 2, 3 spots at the most for the OL. Among the 7 keepers we have Linsley, Tretter and Lang who can play center. Since Linsley sat out yesterday's OTA I hope it does not mean that the Packers are preparing for not having Linsley's services for a while and that Rotheram is an emergency backup at Center. In any case assuming that everyone is healthy probably Lane Taylor sticks as a backup guard and I expect Kyle Murphy to be an improvement over Barclay or Walker as a backup tackle. That's 9 OL spots. I have not seen any of the other bodies including Rotheram play a down in the NFL so I leave it to the experience and observation of our coaches whether Rotheram or any of the others make the team or the PS or get released. I do believe in keeping as many big bodies as possible and Rotheram meets that requirement so if he is the best of the rest keep him. Thanks, Since '61

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Bearmeat's picture

May 25, 2016 at 10:26 am

You've got to think they're looking ahead to 2017. That means that they'll probably carry 8 or 9. IMO it'll be the starting 5, Spriggs, Tretter and Taylor. The only way Rotheram sticks is if he's outstanding at both OG and OC. That would mean probably all 3 of the FA starters are gone next year. It also probably means no 7th WR.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 25, 2016 at 10:56 am

I think 9 is the minimum (unless Murphy falls flat on his face) with 10 being the most likely number (JMO). I'd bet on Walker or Rotherham making the team as well, since I doubt that either can get to the PS.

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gr7070's picture

May 25, 2016 at 01:35 pm

Agreed on 9 min and Murphy.

There's a number of worthwhile sites out there that had a good grade on him with a high floor of an NFL starter.

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dobber's picture

May 25, 2016 at 10:58 am

"Lane Taylor sticks as a backup guard and I expect Kyle Murphy to be an improvement over Barclay or Walker as a backup tackle."

Assuming he stays healthy and his play doesn't fall off the edge of the map, I think Taylor is close to a lock to make the 53. He's a known quantity and the coaches seem to be willing to plug him in. Barclay and Walker will likely benefit from being given a single position (OT or OG, not both) to prep, but based on what the Packers have now, my guess is that neither make it. Some of these other guys are intriguing practice squad types: James, Flores...but you can't keep everyone.

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Handsback's picture

May 25, 2016 at 09:57 am

You have the starting five now, with Walker, Lane and Tretter as fill-ins. I'm not including Barclay even though he will probably play better than last year. Then you have two draftees-Spriggs and Murphy. That's 10 guys right there. If Green Bay can slip a few more on the PS for next year, good. I just don't see a lot of open slots this year for Rotheram or the rest.

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johnnyd17's picture

May 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

Murphy to practice squad im guessing, Spriggs and Rotheram make roster, some of the back-ups last year , besides Tretter, really didnt look good at all

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

May 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Not sure Murphy gets past practice squad, wait till preseason is over and see who gets injured that seems to set up a lot of things.

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gr7070's picture

May 25, 2016 at 01:37 pm

I have high expectations for Murphy, especially considering his 7th round status.

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Nononsense's picture

May 25, 2016 at 09:05 pm

You mean 6th round...

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Tundraboy's picture

May 25, 2016 at 02:01 pm

When they signed him Rotherham seemed to have the size and attitude we could use but who knows as far as talent goes since he never played. Guess this coming camp and Preseason we may find out. If he sticks all the better.

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stockholder's picture

May 25, 2016 at 02:19 pm

TT will only sign Sitton if he stays off the DL. TT knows he can get a comp picks. I look for TT to show the door to all. No all-pros, No big Bucks!

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PETER MAIZ's picture

May 25, 2016 at 05:50 pm

Barclay out and Matt will go to practice squad. He's still too inexperienced to be stolen from PS.

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johnnyd17's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:06 pm

the team gave him and Ringo a hefty raise last season to keep them on the roster and ps, other teams wanted to sign both last season

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

May 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm

The Packers aren't the only team that sees something in Rotheram. I don't think the PS is even an option, if we are looking to keep him. Packers gave him a big raise for a reason...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 25, 2016 at 06:35 pm

Just as a general thought, it has been a long time since GB had average or even poor guard play. Even if Taylor, Walker, Rotherham or even Murphy become decent OGs, it probably won´t look or feel like what we have now. Remember what Saturday was like at center? Now multiply by 2 (okay, I concede that the 2 replacement guards will not suck as bad as Saturday, but still).

Sitton and Lang both had a bit of an off year last season, but their play was well above average even so.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

May 26, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Normally 2 Saturdays is a good thing! You make 2 Saturdays seem like a couple Mondays with that statement.

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ben's picture

May 26, 2016 at 02:41 am

2016 53 MAN
QB: Rodgers, Hundley
RB: Eddie, Starks, Jackson, Crockett
FB: Kuhn
WR: Jordy, Cobb, Janis, Davis, Abbrederis, Montgomery, Davis
TE: Cook, Richard, Ripkowski
OL: Baktiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang, Bulaga, Spriggs, Tretter, Barclay, Taylor
DL: Pennel, Daniels, Pennel, Lowery, Datone, Ringo, Clark, Guion
OLB: Peppers, Elliott, Fackerell
ILB: Matthews, Perry, Barrington, Martinez, Ryan
CB: Shields, Randall, Rollins, Gunter, Hawkins
S: Burnett, Dix, Hyde, Banjo
ST: Crosby, Mortell

Practice Squad:
OT: Kyle Murphy, ILB: Manoa Pikula, WR: Davonte Robinson, S: Kentrell Brice, S: Marwin Evans, CB: Makinton Dorleant, QB: Joe Callahan, TE: Henry Mitchell

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dobber's picture

May 26, 2016 at 05:32 am

You have Pennel twice.

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Nick Perry's picture

May 26, 2016 at 06:59 am

Ripkowski isn't a TE, Kuhn's not even on the roster and Matthews and Perry are both OLB's.
I'd also say Murphy is on the 53, Barclay is cut, and Allison (WR) is on the PS for sure.
You also forgot a Long Snapper.

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dobber's picture

May 26, 2016 at 07:16 am

I'm actually a little curious about Allison as a conversion project to move TE.

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ben's picture

May 26, 2016 at 03:43 pm

Ripkowski could play TE, especially since the Packers like to line their TE in the backfield anyway. Ripkowski's a football player. You could line him up at LB, at FB, at TE, on special teams, and he'll make football plays. But your probably right, Perillo is the future and certainly is the answer as the #3 TE. No Doubt.

What am I thinking? Kuhn on the Packers roster. Oops.

Yea Perry's been such a great fit at OLB. His 1st round talent has absolutely thrived out there. Your right on this 1, to suggest his strengths taking on and getting off blocks, holding the point, and speed to drop in coverage might help shore up the Packers Decade old soft middle is crazy.

And of course Matthews isn't an ILB. Not a chance

Who cares if Barclay was less than 1 year removed from a knee injury last year. Just because he performed well before that as a starter, even as a rookie, doesn't mean anything. Even if it takes most players till year 2 to fully bounce back from similar injuries, I agree that he's probably washed up and doesn't have a chance.

I didn't forget the long-snapper, I just know that using 1 of 53 valuable roster spots on someone to snap the ball, when you already have 3 other professional snappers on the team who are absolutely capable, is dumb.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

May 26, 2016 at 01:02 pm

Who's the 2nd Davis at WR? Stick to the daily norseman, ben.

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ben's picture

May 26, 2016 at 03:50 pm

2016 53 MAN
QB: Rodgers, Hundley
RB: Eddie, Starks, Jackson, Crockett
FB: Kuhn
WR: Jordy, Cobb, Janis, Adams, Davis, Abbrederis, Montgomery
TE: Cook, Richard, Ripkowski
OL: Baktiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang, Bulaga, Spriggs, Tretter, Barclay, Taylor
DL: Daniels, Pennel, Lowery, Datone, Ringo, Clark, Guion
OLB: Peppers, Elliott, Fackerell
ILB: Matthews, Perry, Barrington, Martinez, Ryan
CB: Shields, Randall, Rollins, Gunter, Goodson, Hawkins
S: Burnett, Dix, Hyde, Banjo
ST: Crosby, Mortell

Practice Squad:
OT: Kyle Murphy, ILB: Manoa Pikula, WR: Davonte Robinson, S: Kentrell Brice, S: Marwin Evans, CB: Makinton Dorleant, QB: Joe Callahan, TE: Allison

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Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

May 26, 2016 at 09:03 am

This is sacrilige, but I could see us letting both Sitton and Lang walk. Bahktiari will never be a good run blocker, but he's terrific guarding Aaron's blind side--and I don't see him getting huge FA money. Good, but not huge. And he's still young, so less injury-prone going forward than our elite guards.

Spriggs could easily take RT, with Bulaga sliding in to guard, where he'd challenge for Pro Bowl in his contract year. Or Spriggs could take LT, with either Bulaga or Tretter taking a guard spot.

Tretter is the #1 priority, and I hope Ted locks him up early--before his price jumps too high. He can start at all 5 positions, and would be an overall upgrade at tackle over the one-dimensional Bahktiari or injury-prone Bulaga.

Rotheram? I like his upcoming battle with Lane Taylor. I could see us keeping both to hedge for 2017.

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dobber's picture

May 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

I don't think its sacrilege...I could see all three of Bakhtiari, Lang, and Sitton being allowed to test the market. I only see that happening if current backups show something in camp.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

May 26, 2016 at 02:28 pm

So keep Bulaga over Sitton and/or Lang?

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al bundy's picture

May 26, 2016 at 08:10 pm

The good news at least the team has backups in place for injuries this year. A solid situation. If any negative why would I let myself have everyone leaving at the same time Ted? Could have picked one or two and restructured their contracts? I still say he did a piss poor job with mathews and rogers contracts. More so wtih mathews who is grossly overpaid. Ted gave the farm away and must pay the piper by letting talent walk.

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4thand1's picture

May 26, 2016 at 08:22 pm

Your probably one of the guys who's always clamoring for high priced FA's. Now your bitching about paying too much for one of the Packers best players.

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dobber's picture

May 26, 2016 at 08:28 pm

Doesn't understand that in this day of salary cap football, EVERYONE has to let players walk. You can't--and shouldn't--try to pay everyone. The league is all about first and second contracts now. Not third.

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AgrippaLII's picture

May 27, 2016 at 12:30 am

I don't think Sitton or Lang are going to go after the farm at the end of this season...so resigning them will be doable. Bahktiari has definitely earned a salary increase but not top LOT money...resigning him is doable too. I could see all three being resigned. It will depend on how well the younger guys do...and Ted's own cost versus performance analysis.

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