Free Agent G T.J. Lang Hasn't Heard From The Packers
Free agent right guard T.J. Lang says he has yet to hear from the Packers as he heads toward his first offseason on the open market.
He said in an interview today with SiriusXM NFL Radio the Packers haven’t reached out yet about a potential deal, and going on to clarify that he’d like to stay in Green Bay if possible.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” he said. “I’ve been saying that since the beginning. I love this team, I love Green Bay, I love everything about being a Packer. I love representing the city and the team. I want to be back. It’s not up to me. This is where I want to be.”
Lang later added that he’s interested to see what other teams offer in free agency, which is where the rubber really hits the road for the Packers.
Lang will be signing his third NFL contract
Before we move into the analysis of this situation, it’s important to note that it may not mean much that the Packers haven’t contacted Lang yet. If they intend to re-sign him, contact will come. The Packers get business done when it’s time to get business done.
That said, Lang will be looking to sign his third NFL contract, and general manager Ted Thompson is slow to offer third contracts to any player, especially one who will likely command as much on the open market as Lang. Thompson is also hesitant to pay a premium for players who play a physically demanding position, and offensive line surely fits that description.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Thompson chose to part ways with Josh Sitton before the season even began. Sitton is slightly older than Lang, but his contract with the Bears is instructive nonetheless.
After his release in Green Bay, Sitton signed a three year, $21 million dollar deal with the Bears. While that’s potentially a palatable sum, keep in mind that guards tend to earn a lot less than their top-dollar counterparts at tackle. To that end, Sitton will be the ninth highest paid guard in the NFL in 2017.
Assuming Lang’s next contract fits somewhere in Sitton’s ballpark, it’s fair to ask whether Ted Thompson wants to shell out serious cash for a 31-year-old player coming off multiple foot and leg injuries last season.
Rivera and Wahle offer good comparisons
Thompson has shown a willingness to cut ties with guards sooner rather than later in the past, too. Prior to the 2005 season, Thompson chose not to resign guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle. Rivera had just made his third consecutive Pro Bowl and Wahle was on the cusp of his first, but new contracts would have gutted the cash-strapped Packers.
Both signed big deals with Dallas and Carolina, respectively, and while Wahle made the Pro Bowl his first season in Carolina, neither player finished his contract with his new team, and the Packers benefitted from the cap savings.
Thompson could be eyeing a similar scenario with Sitton and now Lang, albeit almost a year apart. He’s demonstrated before that he’s willing to make tough, unpopular choices to keep the Packers competitive. This could be another one.