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Painful For Everyone, Packers Should Let T.J. Lang Go

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Painful For Everyone, Packers Should Let T.J. Lang Go

T.J. Lang has had a remarkable career with the Green Bay Packers. He has played aggressively through the whistle for the green and gold for eight seasons, earning a Super Bowl ring in the process. He is a fan favorite both for his spirited play on the field and his outspoken social media presence on Twitter. In one of his recent tweets he was complaining outspokenly about the terrible performance of Comcast, something we can all relate to. He is without a doubt, one of my favorites.

Even understanding these things, it is in the best interest of the Packers to move forward without Lang.

He can still play at a high level, that is evident as he earned his long-awaited first Pro Bowl selection in 2016. It was truly a crime it took so long, as Lang has played at that level for multiple seasons. Often Lang seemed to get overlooked because former teammate, Josh Sitton, was manning the guard position on the opposite side.

The biggest problem facing Green Bay in regards to signing Lang is the free agency market. It was reported earlier this week that the Kansas City Chiefs recently re-signed right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a five-year deal worth $41 million and $20 million guaranteed. Though Lang is a bit older, he is a much more accomplished player than Duvernay-Tardif. It is reasonable to assume that Lang will command this large of contract, if not higher.

As a fan of Lang I concede to the quote from Teddy KGB in the movie Rounders, “Pay him……Pay that man his money”. His excellent play along with the market for guards has put him in the position of a sweepstakes winner. He will get a ton of money deservedly, but it should not come from the Packers.

The Packers must improve drastically on defense, and it does not add up to allocate 5-6% of the salary cap to an offensive guard. The Packers have a long history of being an un-balanced team with more talent on offense than defense, it is necessary for them to close the gap. Tackles are the pillars of the offensive line, but is there a major deficit from an elite guard to a serviceable one? After watching Lane Taylor replace Sitton with few growing pains, it would be reasonable to suggest Green Bay could do it again. The Packers also have the luxury of teaming the guards with supreme tackles, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.

As mentioned on this site recently, Ted Thompson has done an excellent job drafting offensive lineman during his tenure with the Packers. It is possible Thompson will be able to find a replacement as he has had draft hits on the offensive line with Bulaga, Sitton, Lang, Bakhtiari, Taylor, Corey Linsley, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and J.C. Tretter. The Packers currently have guard Lucas Patrick, an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame, as an intriguing possibility on their roster that some suggest could battle for the starting guard position if Lang were to leave. Other suggestions talk about putting Jason Spriggs at tackle and moving Bulaga inside to guard.

It is also possible that some mid-level veteran guards will be available in free agency after releases and training camp battles. It seems the Packers can take more risks at offensive guard than they can on the defensive side of the ball. It would be a recipe for disaster to advance to next season with the same cornerbacks and without acquiring a pass rusher.

Lang has also battled remarkably through injuries in his Packers career, as he has only missed three games the past four seasons. As tough as he has proven to be, though, one could wonder if his body will break down and continue to reduce his playing time as his career progresses. As we know, father time never loses.

As a Lang fan, I hope he gets paid handsomely. He looks like a model teammate, I recently saw a video of him congratulating Geronimo Allison after a catch along the sideline late in a preseason game this past year. He saw the catch and ran twenty yards to go encourage his teammate on the sideline. I will be happy initially if he is re-signed, but I know the Packers will be closer to a championship in the long run if they let him go. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Turophile's picture

Tyler Bohms "The Packers must improve drastically on defense, and it does not add up to allocate 5-6% of the salary cap to an offensive guard."

The cap in 2017 is $167m.
6% of that is $10m. Do you think Lang will really get that much per year ?

stockholder's picture

Lang is done as a Packer. So let it be written. So let it be done. Great Article.

tbohms's picture

I could see him garnering $8-10 million based on other guards out there, and more power to him if so. If he goes a lot cheaper, then Ted should swoop back in.

mnklitzke's picture

When has TT ever shown us that will do what is necessary to drastically improve the defense? If you mean years down the road.. maybe... TT has missed more of defense players then he has hit in the draft. Sign a big free agent? HA won't happen.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

Who in the world is suggesting Bulaga play guard and Spriggs play RT?

tbohms's picture

Rob Demovsky article on ESPN : "Maybe the only in-house option would be to move Bulaga to guard and play Spriggs at right tackle."

Not saying I agree with the sentiment, but I did read it.

gr7070's picture

Excellent article. The money is better spent elsewhere. Especially if Tretter comes at a bargain price.

Seth Borden's picture

Let's let the market set itself. If he prices hinself out ($10m), by all means, move on.

But first, Ted, please watch 2005 game tape of Adrian Klemm and Will Whitticker to make damn sure you've got a Plan B ready.

Bert's picture

Amen to that Seth Borden.

Bert's picture

I would hate to see Lang go but I understand the economics. My big complaint will be if Ted lets Lang go based on money and then fails to use any of his extra cap space to sign FAs to improve the defense. Letting Lang go just to save dollars to put in the piggy bank just won't cut it.

dobber's picture

That's a "spend it if you've got it" philosophy...I don't think that fits in cap management. The issue here is where the estimated value meets the price point for the player. If they don't match, you don't sign. It's true of any player out there. If it means you've got cap room left over at the end, so be it...there's rollover that pays back later. But don't rationalize player acquisition by burning dollars just because they're there to be burned.

Bert's picture

Not really what I was saying dobber. My point is to not let good players like Lang go elsewhere AND leave critical weaknesses unattended by not pursuing FAs to fill those weaknesses. I'm not saying to blow through cap money just because we have it. If guys like Lang, Perry, Hyde etc. depart and Ted sits on his hands waiting to snap up an OLB or CB on the cheap then we reap what we sew in 2017.

dobber's picture

True, to a point, but are you advocating overpaying players because the money happens to be there? If the value and the contract don't come together, the answer is naturally yes. The obvious issue is that of the person judging the value of those players, and that he clearly undervalues most free agents.

Bert's picture

Kinda depends on whether or not we look at it from a fans perspective or a business perspective. From a fans perspective I could really care less what the players are paid and whether they are overpaid or not doesn't matter as long as we win football games. From a GM or business perspective I would look at it differently. Gotta make the most profit as you can and if that means letting good players go elsewhere so be it. Winning is good but as long as butts are in the seats and fans stay engaged and the team s profitable then I would make the decisions in the best interest of the business. Sooooooooo......I'm a fan and could care less about profits or the future. I just want to win a SB this year.

dobber's picture

I don't see the profit motive in GB. To my knowledge, there's no significant bonus structure for the BOD or other staff. There's no owner to line the pockets. The cash goes back into the organization or into its many philanthropic outlets. The team needs to be functional on the cash side, but the profit motive doesn't appear to be significant in GB.

Bert's picture

I'm a shareholder but not on the board of directors. I assume Ted has some constraints that he has to work under which may limit his options. But at the end of the day I am a fan first and could really care less about how much we pay certain players.

Ryan Graham's picture

Well written, hit all points necessary. The rams or seahawks will pay him generously, most likely the seahawks

croatpackfan's picture

Let them, pay him. Good for him. But he will not play much for those two teams - injury will surely come... It is that simple...

Rossonero's picture

Ted doesn't pay Guards in their 30s big money. Marco Rivera, Mike Wahle and Josh Sitton are examples. Guard is an important position, but not a premium one. It'll suck to see him go.

I keep seeing TJ wearing Vikings colors and it makes me sick. But we all know how much the Vikings love to sign Packers players.

Handsback's picture

I could see the Seahawks making the biggest move for Lang.
Spending money on a guard or a pass-rusher...hum.....I say no question on the right way to go.

4thand1's picture

There are a lot of teams needing good o-linemen. The Packers have had really good o-line play for a long time. The viqueens need o-line help bad, and I would bet they give Lang a big pay day. TT will look at Sitton for example, he missed a lot of games last year. If he pays Lang and misses a lot of games because of age and injury, he'll kick himself. Mainly because of $$$$$$$$.Ted loves saving money more than anything else.

croatpackfan's picture

"... Ted loves saving money more than anything else."
Thank God TT is Packers GM. How wasted would be Aaron's years if Packers are in cap hell...

mnklitzke's picture

Cause they haven't been wasted currently? What is the point of having stockpiles of money if your not going to pay the great players you have. I don't see a replacement on this roster for lang. People are talking about Patrick but the dude was on the PS last year. You don't see PS to good starting on the line....

dobber's picture

If there's a position where you can find a plug-and-play guy in the draft in the middle rounds, it's G. Grossly devalued against OTs and OT conversion projects.

Is Lang a 'great' player? He's certainly a very good one, and one I certainly would like to see retained, but only at a price that's sensible over the duration of a contract for a player at his stage of career.

If Lang were 26 and looking for that first contract, I think he'd already be locked up and for good coin.

croatpackfan's picture

I'm sure that Packers staff is sleepless because YOU DO NOT SEE A REPLACEMENT ON THEIR ROSTER FOR LANG!
And you are familiar with Packers practices and player health information(s) and Packers plans for every player on the roster? Can you share that with us?
My God!

Ferrari Driver's picture

Everything about Lang is good and I prefer to have players on the team that I can respect morally and like personally.

I prefer to let jerks like A. Peterson and M. Vick play elsewhere.

Pay the man.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Is Tretter immoral? Your post makes no sense. It's between Lang and Tretter for this signing.

dobber's picture

I don't view it as an "either-or" situation. Tretter at guard is strictly a projection...he's played virtually no snaps at that position, and you're essentially bidding on a player against teams that will pay him as a starter (at center, most likely). You'd have to really believe in him to make this kind of commitment...and on a guy who can't stay on the field.

I think Lane Taylor for Sitton might be making the Packer front office unnecessarily ballsy with regard to how they're handling Lang, though. Certainly Taylor turned out to be just fine, but he was playing next to Bakhtiari, who had his best season at LT, and had Lang and Bulaga playing at a high level on the other side. How much did he benefit from playing with one of the better OL in the NFL?

Nick Perry's picture

"I think Lane Taylor for Sitton might be making the Packer front office unnecessarily ballsy with regard to how they're handling Lang, though. Certainly Taylor turned out to be just fine, but he was playing next to Bakhtiari, who had his best season at LT, and had Lang and Bulaga playing at a high level on the other side. How much did he benefit from playing with one of the better OL in the NFL?"

This ^^^^^ This by dobber is hitting the nail on the head. Not taking a thing away from Taylor but he did get to play next to Bakhtiari and a pretty damn good Center in Tretter then Lindsey. I made a comment earlier where letting a 2nd All Pro Guard walk and just plugging in a guy is a scary proposition. Spriggs didn't look particularly good at Guard and I'll admit don't know a damn thing about Patrick, but trying to get away with this twice in 2 years seems risky at best.

Sitton and Lang for Taylor and Spriggs or Taylor and Patrick or Taylor and (Fill in the blank)....Hmmmm...

dobber's picture

It's my guess that the Packer starting RG for 2017 didn't finish the 2016 season with the organization.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I've been saying forever that Tretter can't play guard, or at least there is very little evidence for that proposition. Tretter has no position to play for GB, since Linsley is tons cheaper and is arguably as good, or imo, better. I don't mind paying Lang big AAV, but I do mind guaranteed money.

dobber's picture

FWIW is reporting significant interest in Tretter by other organizations. How they can quantify that at this point (prior to the legal tampering period), I don't know. But if true, it points to what many of us have talked about: Tretter will likely be playing C somewhere in 2017.

mbrand1969's picture

we have to look at it this way we let sitton go and we have a young lion in the waiting in jason spriggs that is a lot cheaper than lang will want. just dont think i will be shocked if lang plays for another team com sept

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree that we have to let Lang or Tretter walk. For me, I'd let Tretter walk if he commands the same money that Lang is projected to earn. I don't see a position for Tretter.

I noticed a drop-off from Sitton to Taylor: about 1 pressure per game. If you let Lang walk, we're probably looking at a 4th round comp pick. If we sign a FA who counts against the formula, we'll forfeit that pick. If Lang and Tretter both get $8M AAV offers, I think they both walk.

carusotrap's picture

I was loading up the old commentary crossbow to shoot the writer between the eyes, but then I actually read the article.

Damn. He's right.

(One caveat... Saving $8 million on the cap does nothing if Ted is completely unwilling to sign other free agents. He's like the little old lady with cookie tins of money hidden in her closet who eats cat food for dinner because if she spends the money on food, she won't have the money anymore.)

dobber's picture

....but you don't spend $10 just because you've got $10 in your pocket.

I would argue that TT is more like the person who doesn't want for cash and is always going to browse at new car showrooms, furniture stores, open houses and the like, but never buys there. He always does his shopping on Craig's list, at flea markets and second-hand stores.

Since '61's picture

If I believed that TT would actually go all in for 2017 by signing some defensive FAs I would say try to resign Lang for 2017 as part of the all in strategy. If you are going "all in" you would want to keep Lang who we know can play at a high level. However, since I doubt that TT will ever commit to going "all in" we will probably be outbid on Lang. Regrettably I see us losing Lang and TT probably not doing much in FA except for signing a few bargain basement retreads as usual. The formula is in place, claim that we will make a splash in FA, try to resign our guys, save cap money for no reason in particular, make the playoffs, get eliminated, repeat. It's been successful for the last 6 seasons why go all in now, when once again we only need one or two FAs to make the difference in getting to the SB. Hoping to be surprised this year but not expecting it. Thanks, Since '61

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Excellent article. Totally agree.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Excellent article. Totally agree.

TheVOR's picture

Folks, he's going to leave, Denver or the Vikings will overpay slightly to fix their issues. I really see him in Denver next season. Currently Denver has like 1-2 guys returning, they intend to rebuild the entire offensive line via the draft and UFA. Elway came out and basically said that! Elway is the Anti-Ted Thompson, he'll have them right back in contention this season. By the way, this is totally OK, I'd rather be fixing the guard position than a tackle position. Thought the addition of Spriggs was excellent. I wouldn't write off Tretter just yet either, although his injury issues are troublesome. In Short, Lang is gone, he'll have suitors that will gladly overpay him, to his benefit. Good solid player, I wish him well.

TXCHEESE's picture

One thing that will work in the Packers' favor is Lang dealing with 2 injuries at the end of the season. I believe I read that he may not even be ready to go until training camp. That should keep the price down some. I think he comes back on a 3 yr. deal that is fair to both parties.

tylerbigred's picture

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
T. J. Lang is insurance and Insurance is expensive.
The entire season is lost if Aaron Rodgers goes down. T.J. Lang has been instrumental in keeping AR healthy for many years. He can still do it- witness the Pro Bowl selection. Just PAY the man and go on!!! He has earned every penny of it. The Packers were LUCKY that Lane Taylor panned out as well as he did after showing Josh Sitton the door at the 11th hour. This is NOT the time to push our luck!

egbertsouse's picture

Here is a solution: Cut Fabio, sign Lang.

Ted's solution: Let Lang go, insert Barclay.

For all of you who apparently missed the 2016 season, Spriggs is not an option. He is terrible.

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