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Packers lose Pro Bowl Guard T.J. Lang to the Lions, left Hollow at the Position

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Packers lose Pro Bowl Guard T.J. Lang to the Lions, left Hollow at the Position

T.J. Lang's career in Green Bay is officially in the rearview mirror.

The 29-year old coming off of a Pro Bowl season is heading to Detroit, Michigan where he grew up to play with the NFC North rival Lions.

Rob Demovsky contributed to the report of Lang's departure early Sunday morning.

"Offensive lineman T.J. Lang has agreed to a three-year contract with the Detroit Lions, his agent announced Sunday."

Lang was a fourth-round selection under general manager Ted Thompson in the 2009 NFL Draft and ultimately swapped between the left and right tackle position before sticking to right guard in 2013 where he would soon finish his career with the Packers. Lang was bothered by a nagging hip injury that required off-season surgery and a broken foot, the Packers weighed their options.

Unlike when the Packers let All-Pro left guard Josh Sitton go six months ago to the Chicago Bears, the Packers don't have an immediate replacement at right guard like they did with Lane Taylor at the opposite end. Taylor was plugged in, immediately contributed and had a spectacular season considering the expectations placed on his shoulders.

Lang cut his decision down to three teams after visiting with the Seahawks and Lions over the last few days — both of which the Packers play in 2017, including the yearly double-down against the Lions. 

"The easy part is we narrowed down to these three teams because I really felt like all three of these teams are ready to win now and ready to compete and ready to contend for championships," Lang told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday. "Right now it’s just, I think the biggest thing is it’s not just me making a decision on where I want to go play, what team I want to play for, what city I want to live in. It’s more for my family. My son is going to be in first grade this year, my daughter’s growing up. It’s trying to narrow down every single scenario and we did a lot of homework."

Lang becomes the next offensive lineman to join the Lions this off-season, joining Wisconsin native Rick Wagner as both will be expected to solidify the front-lines for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

As for the Packers...

The only backup guards for Lang who can serve as potential replacements are Lucas Patrick and Don Barclay, whose versatility allows him to play both guard and tackle. The Packers also have the two second-year tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy waiting in the wing, as it hasn't been ruled out seeing one of the young players transition into a new position.

__________________________

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (50) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

zoellner25's picture

This is really not good, no other way to slice it

Mojo's picture

Agree - and we save cap space - a lot of cap space.

gr7070's picture

Completely agree DesertFan, and I'm ignoring Sitton wholly.

RG is the very least important position on the OL. The Packers have three potentially highly capable options thereally in Murphy, Springs, and the Duke(?) guy. Plus a less than thrilling, but potentially useful, option Barclay.

Add to that resigning a guy with some (slight?) injury concerns, over 30, and very expensive it was an easy decision to let him walk.

I hated to see Tretter leave, but for most of the above reasons it just makes no sense to commit that kind of money to either guy when cheap, highly capable options exist and the money can be used elsewhere.

gr7070's picture

And Detroit is laughably far from competing!

They had about as good a year as possible from the QB and despite what their record suggests were a terrible team!

dobber's picture

This is really not a surprise given that before the season even started the Packers had taken the stance that they were not prioritizing Lang and Sitton for contracts. With that in mind, even if TT was taking a shot at resigning Lang, it's likely that they have some notion of what they want to do at that position in 2017.

We'll have to see what the Lions are paying him, but the market for guards was set early and it's likely that Lang was too cha-ching for the Packers blood.

Nick Perry's picture

We have Patrick who I know nothing about. We have Murphy who PFF claimed was one of the "Steals of day Three" in last years draft, and Spriggs.

Don't know where this rumor started but I've heard it more than once in the last few months. Move Bulaga to RG and Spriggs to RT. It might be a damn good combination.

dobber's picture

Spriggs just isn't a guard, that's for sure, and these clickbait sites that are projecting him there are absolutely clueless.

Part of the reason Bulaga slid in the draft was that some thought his best position was guard and not tackle. We'll see when the numbers are released, but my guess is that even if Bulaga DOES move inside, his cap number will be less than what Lang's getting from the Lions.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree. I think the Lions probably gave him around 3 years for around $27 to $30 Million a year with maybe $18 guaranteed. As much as I HATE losing TJ Lang, I can't even get pissed about this. Just tough losing Tretter, Lang and Sitton in less than a year.

One thing is certain. The Packers are LOADING up on Comp Picks next year. Once Cook signs that will be close to wash with the Bennett signing and we should get decent picks for Hyde, Tretter and Lang.

Nick Perry's picture

Yup, I mentioned that in another comment. It might sound like a good combination but having a completely new right side of your offensive line probably isn't the way to go.

akeemthedream's picture

What is wrong with you?
You sure the "I told you so" look is what you wanna go with?

Bearmeat's picture

That's classic Stroh (aka DPF) akeem. He does know football - so it's too bad he's suck a jerk on a regular basis. I usually ignore him, and CHTV has been happier for me since.

akeemthedream's picture

"Knows football."
Why, because he thinks moving a quality tackle to guard and replacing him with an undersized, unproven 2nd year player is a bad idea?

My 9 year old daughter could figure that one out.
Then again - she knows football.

Ryan Graham's picture

You guys are all silly willies.

Nick Perry's picture

I said I mentioned it in another comment so no need to welcome me aboard.

Nick Perry's picture

I don't think this is a surprise. The moment Free Agency hit and Lang wasn't signed was a pretty good indication Lang wouldn't be back. Thompson doesn't sign many players to a 3rd contract let alone a player coming off hip and foot surgery. Losing Lang to a division rival just makes it that much worse.

Bearmeat's picture

Exactly.

Paying 9-10 mil AAV on a 3 year deal for a 29 year old RG who's beat to hell? You can have him Lions. I'll take the 3rd round comp pick next year.

Now we draft a versatile interior OL in the middle rounds and let him compete with the depth already on the team. OG is NOT a premium position. Spriggs, Patrick, hell even moving Bulaga (I'm not a fan of that one personally) - all decent options here. I'd rather spend the money on QB, OT, NT, TE, WR and CB. They're all VASTLY more important than RG - especially if you have competent individuals around that average interior OL guy. We do.

All is good. Thanks for the memories TJ.

GB Jacker's picture

Simple fact is that you can't spend all your cap space on the O-line and we have money and contract years tied up in two studs already, with Linsley next in line. Lang has been a fantastic player over the past few seasons and will be missed but that's the game. Probably get a good comp pick in return too.

For all the shit he gets, TT's O-line drafting has been pretty great lately. We just lost two quality starters in Tretter and Lang, and yet we still have plenty left over.

We have the cap room to do something in the coming weeks, a couple of cheap additions would be useful. House & Barwin seem logical for depth.

Great offseason so far IMO.

Mojo's picture

I'll second your comments Bearmeat.

If positions on a NFL roster were put on a scale of relative worth, I'd bet OG would be near the bottom. Certainly not worth $10 mil per unless the guy was head and shoulders above everyone else,

If the Pack can hone in on some quality defensive players, this will be a good use of limited resources.

marpag1's picture

I'm totally on board with the "you don't pay guards" argument. The flipside, however, is that I prefer guards who do not immediately go airborne when contacted by a defensive player... hence my reservations about Barclay and Spriggs.

Hoping for improvement from practice squad guys is nice and all, but Ted is obviously going to have to pick up a low-dollar, cast-off veteran or two, just to cover our bacon in case the youngsters don't pan out.

Ryan Graham's picture

I agree I just don't see the quality in the market right now for guys less than 30 and not falling apart. And I just don't see a need for it, with the probability of running 2 TE sets more it becomes less of a need to have a stonewall when the field will be most likely be open most of the time. TJ Lang was a stud sure, but right guard? Really? Without much of an idea what these guys are about, I still trust Patrick or Murphy to step in and learn on their feet between two other studs how to hold his own.

stockholder's picture

Everyone hates Barclay but MM. 1.3 mil is not a bad OL. They must see something. By The end of the season; Spriggs will be playing LG. I'll bet on it!

badaxed's picture

bring Mandarich out of retirement. he was better than Barclay.

Matt Weiske's picture

a corpse is better than Barclay

marpag1's picture

I don't doubt that the GB coaching staff knows Patrick and Murphy better than anyone, but that doesn't mean they are good players. Last year, the coaching staff obviously thought that Spriggs and Barclay were better options because those are the guys who were on the field.

Of course, it's possible that they might work out great, but you're more optimistic than I am. If I'm Ted, I'm looking for a bargain-basement vet. It's cheap insurance.

Matt Weiske's picture

I think Ted and Mike are willing to gamble with the offense's effectiveness and QB's health to find out and also Ted is obsessed with having as few 30 year olds on the team as possible and leading the league in inexperienced players.

PatrickGB's picture

Packers only have so much to spend. We cannot keep them all. With the new TE's we don't need the line to pass block for as long as before. Yes, its a drop off but we don't need the luxury of "block forever" any more. Spend the little $ we have left on defense.

dobber's picture

More comp picks, please!

Mojo's picture

I'd have taken him back at around $6 mil a year but since that wasn't going to happen I'm content with this result,

Lang was a good player - good team guy and he gets to go home for big $'s, so all worked out well in the end for him.

As for GB, Taylor is proof you can fit a competent replacement and still get good results. Fill in with Murphy, Patrick, FA or draft choice and as long as we can teach him the Packers league envied holding techniques we'll be fine.

I'd like to leave Buluga at RT. With him and Bakh we'd have to of the better tackle tandems in the league, by far the most important positions on the line, Would have liked to have kept Tretter though, now that we know Lang is gone.

Anyway, I take this as good news as long as Ted targets some talent on D.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Well we can always put Barclay in there he is a veteran right. Well maybe someone is dreaming there, I see more O line try outs maybe the guy playing is not even on the team yet.

lebowski's picture

that's my biggest fear with this situation, is that McCarthy is thinking Barclay can man the position.

Bert's picture

Barclay is a rarity in the NFL or all of professional sports for that matter. He has proven himself to be lousy at 5 positions and still retain a job. Kinda like the NFLs version of the Golden Sombrero.

Razer's picture

Golden Sombrero - too funny!

badaxed's picture

Well Said!

Mojo's picture

With this non-signing, I get the feeling Barwin will be a Packer by early next week.

akeemthedream's picture

Or Hightower!!!!

Mebrooks5291's picture

Another Packer goes into purgatory

4thand1's picture

The only thing worse than signing with the queens. is signing with the lolions.

Norm's picture

Josh Sitton begs to differ with you.

Oppy's picture

I get that Tackles are left on an island and guards play in a phone booth.

People love to talk about the relative lack of importance of the guard position. That's easy to say when you have decent guards.

Geometry tends to teach people the value of good guard play real quick when you don't have good guard play. Quickest route to disrupting the RB, quickest route to the QB, is a straight line up the middle.

I hope the Packers can plug this hole adequately. Really sucks to lose TJ. I get it; he's in what is probably his last contract and his kid is entering school. He's a Detroit guy. He's thinking long term what's best for his kid. Can't fault him for that.

Bearmeat's picture

Plus, it's almost a sure bet the LOLoins gave him another 6-8 million over the duration of the contract.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I've posted before, that GB has never valued the Right or Left Guard position. In this case, if Lang got $18 Mill Guaranteed over 2 yr's, that's way too much, IMO. I agree with GB letting him go. We've got much bigger fish to fry than Right Guard. As most of you know, this isn't the 1st or 2ond time we've let a Quality Guard go. As I said, I agree with it, but what I really don't understand is, Why are other teams willing to put so much money in the Guard position, when it could be better spent somewhere else? Lang is a really good player, but not worth $9 Mill a year, If that's what he got??
LVT

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I guess I don't see it. I can't see how a $9 Mill Guard can ever pay off?? I never understood the difference between College Guard #1 & #251. You wouldn't think there's $9 Mill worth of difference between the 2. How much difference can there be with the NFL guards, or the 1st 4 rounds of guards picked, given the same weight. Speed can't be a factor. Throwing $9 Million Dollars at the Best Guard in the NFL seems like a waste of $4 Million Dollars to me. Just My Opinion.
LVT

Razer's picture

Totally agree. You never see Belichick throw big money at these interior linemen.

sheppercheeser's picture

In hindsight, if we'd known that TJ was gonna walk, it might've made sense to retain Tretter.

dobber's picture

...only if you felt he was a viable, long-term solution at guard.

sheppercheeser's picture

....and wow, you sure can't say that the Packers aren't shaking things up a bit. I hope the new TE's work out and I hope that TT finds some gems to spend the new found cap money on.

OldTimer's picture

I think the money saved here will mostly be carried over and used to extend or resign Lang and Linsley. I think they both have contracts due next year. Hopefully they can extend one of them before the year is out. I like Spriggs, and feel that once he fills out a little more and gets stronger, he is going to be a beast, but he doesn't seem to play low enough for a guard. I think he is our future right tackle, and the future is coming fast. Bulaga will soon not be worth the money he's getting. I give him another year, and then they cut him.

Oppy's picture

It seems everyone has forgot about the huge uproar most Packers fans were involved in when TT let go of Wahle and Rivera and the first 5 years the Packers couldn't seem to find a quality guard solution.

Let me remind you, it went like this:

Favre running for his life, Rodgers taking ridiculous amount of sacks; Packers fans cursing TT's name for not finding decent guards, complaining he doesn't value them enough.

Now we've had 6 or so years of good guard play, and everyone has forgotten.

I'm glad Lane Taylor has done a great job. Losing sitton was much less painful than it could have been. That doesn't mean Guard isn't important; it means we had a decent Guard in the wings. Here's to hoping TJ's replacement works out as well.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

TT spent #47 and #75 (a 2nd and a 3rd) on guards in the 2006 draft on Colledge and Spitz. After dumping Wahle and Rivera after the 2004 season, TT drafted Junius Coston (#143 - a fifth) and Will Whitaker (#246 - comp 7th) in 2005. He missed completely on Whitaker and Coston, while Colledge was sort of adequate and Spitz started though the coaches always were trying to replace him. Colledge and Spitz got thrown into the fire as rookies. TT took Barbre in 2007 (4th), Sitton (4th) Giacomini in 2008 (5th), and Lang (2009) and Meredith (5th) in 2009.

Your memory has to be better than mine, but perhaps Barbre, Giacomini and Meredith were really tackle prospects more than guard - I don't remember. All three eventually played for other teams, even started a lot of games, and TT finally solved the OT issue with Bulaga, until Clifton went down.

What I am trying to say is that TT threw a 2nd, 3rd, 3 fourths, two fifths, and a 7th at the OL. That is a fair amount of draft capital, and TT should not have been heavily criticized for not addressing OG. As far as the delay in 2005 only drafting guys in the 5th and 7th, that was a pretty good draft: I can't complain about TT using the 1st on AR and the 2nd rounder on Nick Collins, and the other 2nd on Terrence Murphy was looking good until his injury. Propinga in the 4th was solid, Underwood not so great. That left the 5th for a guard.

Oppy's picture

Giacomini was straight tackle; Barbre more guard, meredith i think leaned tackle.

At any rate, you are fully illustrating my point- Guard matters, and fans are quick to forget while also loving to latch on to the media reports that TT and the staff 'dont value' the guard position.

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