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Is It Sitton Or Lang For Packers?

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Is It Sitton Or Lang For Packers?

It's the offseason and so the pickings can sometimes be slim when it comes to talking Green Bay Packers football.  We've seen a number of draft profiles already and kudos to our writers who put in a good amount of time on those.  We've talked free agency up and down and we've analyzed and over analyzed every signing the Packers have made so far (make those re-signings).

So why not look ahead to next year's free agency?  The Packers have quite a few free-agents-to-be that they'll need to address.  Of those names, three of them are currently starting offensive linemen:  Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and David Bakhtiari.  Head coach Mike McCarthy talks about continuity all the time and on the offensive line, it's probably more important than any other area besides quarterback.  Sitton and Lang have formed the guard tandem since 2011 and both will not be cheap to bring back.  

The Packers have historically done well, under general manager Ted Thompson, in keeping their core players as they reach free agency.  As fans, we've banged our heads against the wall as free agents sign with new teams all over the league and make splash headlines on Sports Center as they don their new jersey in a press conference that never seems to be in Green Bay.  Then we realize that the upside is that we've never had to say goodbye to players like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Sam Shields, Mike Daniels and Randall Cobb.  Not every player can be kept and so we've said goodbye to the likes of Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward over the past few years.  So are we likely to see one of Sitton or Lang depart?

It's too early to tell but it's a question that has come up a few times.  Here is another discussion of this topic by my Pulse of the Pack podcast co-host Jacob Westendorf at Today's Pigskin.  If it boils down to the Packers only being able to keep Lang or Sitton, which one do they keep?  Let's take Bakhtiari out of the equation for now and, for the sake of this discussion, establish that we can't say that the Packers can keep both Sitton and Lang by letting Bakhtiari go.  For the moment, let's also put the draft aside, as that would obviously have an impact on this potential decision.  More on that in a bit.

On the one hand, Sitton has been listed among the top guards in the league for most of his career, which began in 2008.  He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010 and was named as a replacement in 2013.  Lang has been to none.  Pro Bowls used to be a nice gold star on a player's resume, but the quality of the NFL's All Star game has been reduced to comical proportions over the last few years and the league is now practically begging players to participate.  It's unclear how much the Packers would value Sitton's appearing in this game twice over his career.

Lang is one year younger than Sitton, at 28.  Both would seemingly have another decent contract left in their careers and should be highly coveted, either by the Packers or another team.  As far as durability, both have played through various ailments and neither has missed significant time.  Lang missed one game last season, Sitton missed none.  Sitton has had back issues over the past several seasons and seems to be sitting out most of practice come December, but he's always available on game days and plays at a high level.  This past season, it seemed as though Sitton committed more penalties than usual but it's hardly time to call that a trend.  Lang has had his share of yellow laundry on the field as well, but not to any type of troubling level.

The Packers can be tough to predict in situations like this where they have a choice to make between two players at a particular position.  Just recently, they decided to re-up linebacker Nick Perry and appear to be letting his counterpart Mike Neal test free agency.  Prior to that announcement, there was some healthy discussion about whether Perry or Neal was more valuable and also what the Packers were likely to do.  With their ages nearly similar and if it's truly one or the other, Sitton carries the better reputation and overall performance and would seem to be the front runner.  The question is, do the Packers think that way and agree?

This is a topic that will pick up steam more and more after the upcoming draft and as the 2016 season wears on (assuming that one or both haven't already had their contracts extended).  I said I'd come back to the draft.  Thompson has been known to throw a few surprises at us so obviously the drafting of a guard early on would seem to indicate that the Packers may not be looking to bring both Sitton and Lang back.  Or if the Packers draft several versatile linemen, that may be another clue.  That's an unknown at this point, but will obviously change the complexion of this discussion.

So as it stands right now, which of Sitton or Lang would you prefer to see back if it can only be one or the other?

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Pulse of the Pack podcast.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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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.

marpag1's picture

Agreed. Plus Lang has done a lot to close the gap between him and Sitton. Lang doesn't get the same pub, but he's pretty good.

Of course, there is no guarantee that either one will be back, even if we can afford them. I don't think that's terribly likely, but it's certainly possible that these two become the next Wahle and Rivera. Looking back on that one, dumping Wahle was probably a good move, and dumping Rivera was actually a life saver.

And what was the problem with Rivera? His back.

P.S. ---- GO BADGERS!

Bearmeat's picture

Cow - it's been a very long time since I've upvoted you. You should post common sense things like this more often. ;)

Packer_Pete's picture

Lang. I feel his play is still improving, whereas Sitton has peaked. Both are very good though. Would love to see both here for the rest of their careers

Bearmeat's picture

Lang.

Sitton has been a great player for GB and I wish him well, but he'll be over 30 and has a bad back. That's not good - especially for someone who makes a living pushing a massive amount of weight around for a living. Shoulders do not have the same impact as backs do on OL.

I really think we'll be seeing an OG conversion from college OT drafted in the first 3 rounds this year - to replace Sitton in 2017.

LeagueObsrvr's picture

I think Tretter is the wildcard in all of this. I can see the Packers signing him to an extension and plugging him in somewhere along the line. He hasn't been a regular starter, so they can get him signed to a contract more favorable to the teams cap structure.

sheppercheeser's picture

I have to agree with the prevailing opinion. Sitton has been great, but I think his best days are behind him. I think you have to cut Josh loose- too bad, because he's been such a stud for GB, but it's the best decision for the success of the Packers.

Nick Perry's picture

I'd say Lang as well, but I believe Ted will do it in December with a extension that's more "Cap Friendly" I've also noticed several have thought Trettor is gone after this year. That IMO would be a huge mistake. He's young, can play any position, and knows the system. If Sitton or Lang is allowed to leave, Trettor should be the guy who slips right in.

dobber's picture

Unless he plays a lot this season, he'll be a cheaper keep than any of Bakh, Sitton or Lang. If he's figuring in the Packers future, they'll sign him and maybe two of those three walk. It will depend on developmental guys already on the roster and how TT drafts (of course).

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

We need to find out if Linsley or Tretter can play guard. I do not think either has proven that they can play guard. My own guess is that Tretter has shown that he can play OC, and will command low OC starters money, maybe some incentives.

dobber's picture

Then it's a good thing that OC's don't make OLT $$.... ;)

Bear's picture

Agree, I don't think Tretter is a proven starter. This year will be the deciding year for him....on film he was average when he played last year.

Tarynfor12's picture

Lang....He can play other positions if things get bad. Sutton seems to be getting more and more holding calls, whether via decline in play or his back or combined. Keeping him over Lang would need a huge season in 16' unless Lang falls apart at the seams. A bad season by both could be a real troubling situation.

sirlen's picture

I agree that Sitton with his back foot and what else is wrong is not an option for along extension !

Since '61's picture

I'll go with Lang since he can also step in at Center if necessary. Sitton has played really well but his back is a concern. If we can keep both that would be great. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

There are so many variables in this discussion that it's hard to really say either way. I tend to agree with the sentiment here in that Lang is more than capable and (a little) younger. Sitton's back is always going to be worrying. I'd lean in Lang's direction...his lack of ProBowls might make him a little bit cheaper to resign (but likely not much).

What I think WILL happen: Packers will re-sign Bakhtiari and Tretter, draft a college OLT who can spend 2016 apprenticing inside, and then Tretter and this year's rookie assume the starting OG positions in 2017, while Sitton and Lang BOTH walk for compensatory picks. But keep in mind, FA will change dramatically next year when teams can start trading compensatory picks. The value of those picks is going to go up immensely, and what that means is that teams are going to be even more TT-like in free agency.

croatpackfan's picture

Between those 2 guys, I would like to se them signed both...

mnklitzke's picture

Both and Bak leaves for a boat load of money he isn't worth. Lang and sitton need to be paid again. I don't care about sitton's back I don't care he misses practice cause he is a beast in the game... Tretter proved last year he is as good as bak after getting settled into the game last year...

dobber's picture

The question is: where does Bakhtiari belong? His scouting report coming out was that he might not be an NFL OLT and that he might need to slide inside to OG. If the Packers see him moving to OG in the future it will be very difficult to bring him back unless he's willing to take OG money. At this stage, he'd be a fool to take that. Given his propensity to struggle with bull-rushers, I don't think he projects inside.

I agree: Tretter looked capable at OLT vs. Washington, but I'm not going to anoint him as better than Bakhtiari based on one game against a mediocre (at best) defense.

The issue with Sitton and Lang is that they will likely command a 4, or maybe a 3, -year contract. What will these players look like at 34 and 33? That's what needs to be projected out, and that's why Sitton's back and Lang's shoulder should be concerning.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dobber, I strongly agree with your thoughts in paragraphs 2 and 3, and partially with paragraph 1. I'd add that Tretter's agent can suggest that Tretter can be at least an spot or emergency starter at LT, and that he has reasonably shown that he can be a pretty good starting OC. Tretter will make some dough, most likely not less than $5 million AAV.

I don't think it matters where Bakh belongs. Bakh has proven that he can be a starting LT in the NFL, and that is where the money is. An average starting LT makes more than all but 2 LGs: Iupati and Osemele (who cashed in as a FA with the Raiders who have cap to burn), and 2 RGs: Brooks and Yanda. Plus, LTs are much harder to replace. Bakh is going to be a LT somewhere in the NFL, regardless of what GB thinks is his best position.

ray nichkee's picture

I love just about everything about sitton as a packer and a football player but he is definately a concern when it comes to a long term contract and being able to play at a high level. Playing through all his injuries may have it's effects on the longevity of his career.

Lang would seem to be the safer bet. I think tretter sticks around too because he can play all over in a pinch. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least 4 new big guys on both sides of the ball come camp.

stockholder's picture

Big problem coming! Tretter is ready, but I'd draft 2 more guards in the 3rd and 4th. Christian Westerman 6-3 298 and Conner McGovern 6-4 306.

Jersey Al's picture

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Jersey Al's picture

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AgrippaLII's picture

If Ted keeps a guard after next season it would be Lang. But the Packers free agent list is long...the better question is "if" he can keep two linemen who would they be? I see a lot of Comp picks coming after next season.

alex's picture

It's one of those subjective areas that seem to require faith..

idgafkurt's picture

Whoever costs the team less...

Oppy's picture

I completely understand why so many of you are picking Lang over Sitton.

However, the level which Sitton plays at when healthy is a level I don't think Lang could ever hope to play at.

Second, even a beat, tired-back Josh Sitton plays the OG position better than all but 3 or 4 HEALTHY OG's in the league.

I don't think I could let Sitton walk without trying to work something out.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I'd prefer Sitton too (while noting that Lang continues to improve) if the structure of Sitton's contract is team friendly, even if the AAV is large. I note that Sitton's contract has him playing this year with no guaranteed money, so perhaps something can be worked out with Sitton.

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