What Letroy Guion's 4 Game Suspension Means for Packers, His Future
Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion has been suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2017 season, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
The suspension, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, is for Guion violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. In 2015, Guion was suspended three games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Guion signed a three-year, $11.5 million contract last offseason, and it appears according to ESPN that the Packers have restructured the deal. The defensive lineman was due $800,000 in roster bonuses between now and May, but the two sides have agreed to delay the bonus until after his suspension has been served.
What this means for Guion’s future in Green Bay
Follow the money. Moving the $800,000 roster bonus – comprised of two separate $400,000 bonuses – to after his suspension is an extraordinarily telling move. First, it gives the Packers flexibility to bring Guion into training camp and through the first quarter of the season. If injuries are plaguing the defensive line, it’s safe to assume Guion would be welcomed back.
Second, it demonstrates Ted Thompson and the Packers’ front office have a short leash on Guion. It’s unknown how long Green Bay and Guion have known about the suspension, but that both sides had already negotiated a revised contract is telling.
The Packers hold the leverage here, as Guion’s career is likely finished with a four-game suspension and nine seasons in the league.
Cutting Guion will, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein, save the Packers roughly $3.3 million in cap space. Silverstein also suggests Guion will be released.
Guion’s performance slipped in 2016
Guion led the team with 7.5 tackles for loss, but a closer look at his performance reveals a concerning trend. In 2015, Guion was able to pressure the quarterback 16 times across 622 snaps.
While Guion didn’t rip up the stat sheet as a sack artist, his ability to impact the pocket for quarterbacks made completing passes difficult. In this clip from 2015's road game against Detroit, Guion’s pressure forces Matthew Stafford to hurry his throw:
This past year, he managed one pressure in 527 snaps.
When Guion played in Minnesota, his defensive line coach Brendan Daly said “one of the best assets he has is explosiveness and his ability to move.” It appears as if Guion’s explosiveness disappeared in 2016, and it hurt his ability to get to the quarterback.
How this impacts the Packers offseason
Green Bay cut ties with defensive tackle Mike Pennel after two suspensions bookended his 2016 season, and now face another suspended defensive tackle in Guion. The silver lining is that the Packers now have free agency and the NFL Draft to add depth to the position if they so desire.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark was selected in the first round last year, and stands to play significantly more during Guion’s suspension. The 21-year-old Clark was the youngest player on the Packers roster this season, and figures to make an improvement in his second year.
Expect Thompson and the Packers front office to look either in the late rounds of the NFL Draft, undrafted free agency, or to sign a low-priced veteran defensive tackle after the first weeks of free agency settle.