Did you see the contract TJ Lang got from the Lions? Good Lord that’s a lot of money!
For a guard? $9.5 million per year? $19 million guaranteed? That’s more than David Bakhtiari’s $16 million guarantee and he’s four years younger. Really? Geeze, handing out contracts like that, it’s a wonder the Lions aren’t perennial contenders…
So last year, when Sitton was dropped like an old bag of moldy tangerines just before the season started, everyone knew Lane Taylor was going to step in.
This year, it’s not so clear. But there are options, in order of likelihood, they are:
7) Sign a Free Agent – I’m not even going to list who’s available because it’s so un-Tedlike to fill a gap like this with a free agent, no matter how many tight ends he signs.
6) Don Barclay – I hope this is very far down McCarthy’s list in terms of probability, too, because if this guy starts, Rodgers will get hurt. Ever since his ACL injury, he’s been awful. Please no.
5) Lucas Patrick – A practice squad guard who, at 6-3, 313, is right at the same size as Josh Sitton and TJ Lang. A year of development in the system should give him good familiarity, but, as a first-year undrafted free agent from Duke (note: Duke’s football program is not on par with its basketball program), the odds are still probably long.
4) Bryan Bulaga – Some people seem to think that it would be a good idea to take a stud right tackle and waste him at guard so that you can put Jason Spriggs, with very little experience (and even less success), outside to deal with the premier edge rushers in the league. That doesn’t seem all that ideal to me, so I also kept it low on the list. In the interest of getting the best five linemen on the field, though (as they like to do), this ranks above Lucas Patrick.
3) Forrest Lamp – The consensus top guard prospect in the draft, rising since the combine, projects to be available in the first for the Packers. A first round guard? Ugh. That’s not very Ted-like, either, although it would fit his habit of drafting for need in the first round. Ted has never taken a 1st round guard and 2006 was the only time he’s taken one higher than the 4th round, nabbing Daryn Colledge in the 2nd and Jason Spitz in the 3rd.
2) Another Draft Pick (probably a 4th rounder) – Ted has a knack for finding guys in the 4th round who can play guard – usually they are tackles, so probably a second-tier tackle to convert to guard.
1) Jason Spriggs – Isn’t it clear? Isn’t this one obvious? It’s always next man up with this team. That’s not a cop-out, it’s not a failure, it’s by design. When someone leaves, you want to have already been developing their replacement, not reaching for need in the draft, not grasping for an overpaid free agent (which, as much as I love him, is what TJ Lang is). When Lang missed three games last year, Barclay made it through one half before being replaced by Spriggs, who went on to start and play the full game against both Philadelphia and Houston (he started the table run!). Of course the guy who replaced Lang last year will be the guy to replace Lang this year!
This could just as easily be Kyle Murphy if the team really wants to keep Spriggs developing at tackle (or, worse, a tackle gets hurt). Murphy has said he can also play guard and center, so he could be groomed for Don Barclay’s interior swing position, giving them more flexibility along the line (and allowing them to cut Barclay).
Really, though, the best answer is probably none of the above – no one never knows what Ted Thompson is going to do. I certainly don’t, as evidenced by this article.