As we start to grow on a player, it can impact the way we watch the game. If it’s a rookie we are always interested in how they are performing right when they start their career, to see if they will be a bust or not. An All-pro like Mike Daniels, (another fourth round gem drafted by Ted Thompson), did have a decent rookie year, recording 2 sacks, and 12 tackles in the 14 games that he played in, in his rookie year. In his second year, he had 6.5 sacks and 28 tackles in the 16 games he played in (regular season). It is the growth like Mike’s that fans love to see and enjoy watching.
With every start of a career, there is always an end. Some endings are better than others. Brett Favre is the perfect example. He was the savior of title town, bringing back the Lombardi trophy to its home, and restoring greatness to the Green Bay Packers. However, his departure was not one that could have been entirely predicted. Leave for the Jets and then the Vikings? Who would have thought of that? Of course, both sides were bitter, and it ended ugly, as we all know. Packer fans are especially loyal to the players. We get their fathead, their jersey, and maybe even their football card. There are six players that just recently left the Packers squad and are joining new teams. The heartbreak may be there, but it should be an interesting year for the players on their new teams. Here is a look at what they did in Green Bay, and how they will fit into their new roles around the league:
Lang was drafted by the Packers back in 2009, in the fourth round. Lang has started almost 80% of the games that he has played in, in his career. Starting just three in his rookie year and zero in his sophomore year, he only did not start ONE game that he played in, with the rest of his time with the Packers. Lang started a total of 94 games throughout his time with the Packers, while playing in 119 total. Lang, originally starting at tackle for the Packers, quickly transitioned to guard, and became one of the best guards the Packers have ever had on their team. The Packers did sign Lang to a contract extension back in 2012 that was for 4-years, $20.8 million. Very few if anyone thought that T.J. Lang would end up playing for an NFC North foe, the Detroit Lions. With the Lions, Lang is expected to start. He could line up with a variety of different players, Corey Robinson (tackle), Cyrus Kouandjio, Cornelius Lucas and Tony Hills (all tackles), Graham Glasgow (center), Rick Wagner (tackle) are all players that could compete with him for a starting job on the Lions offensive line. Being that T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were both really good friends during their time with the Packers, (also fan favorites) it is interesting to see that they both ended up staying in the NFC North, we will have to see if that impacts the Packers at all in the coming weeks.
The Cleveland Browns got a young, talented offensive lineman this offseason in J.C. Tretter. He has been a rock for the Packers. Tretter was drafted in the fourth round by the Packers in 2013. From then, he has been a solid center for Green Bay. Tretter started ten games throughout his time with the Packers, playing in 31 total games. Tretter did not necessarily become solid starting quality until this past season, and that is exactly how the Cleveland Browns would have wanted his career to play out. If Tretter is just hitting the prime of his career, there is no doubt he would be a huge asset to the Browns. Tretter is looking at a brand new offensive line over in Cleveland. The offensive line in Cleveland, just like Detroit’s could line up in a variety of ways. For guard, the Browns are looking at Kevin Zeitler, Joel Bitonio for starting spots. For center, it is highly likely that J.C. Tretter will be the starter, and for tackles, it could be Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving.
Eddie Lacy has almost always been a solid running back. Drafted in the second round back in 2013, he has almost lived up to his hype. The only way he hasn’t is because of his injuries, and being overweight. Lacy has put up impressive numbers in his time with the Packers. Starting 48 games in the regular season and playing in 51, Lacy has scored a total of 23 touchdowns, and rushed for a total of 3,435 yards with the Packers. After spending for seasons with Green Bay, Eddie decided to ship off to Seattle, and join the Seahawks. Eddie signed a one-year, $2.85 million contract. With Eddie’s wicked spin move, the fans out in Seattle are ready for him.
Julius Peppers is absolutely a future Hall of Famer. He has defined age, made football a game that defines him, and he has also had a great impact on the Packers. Not only has he had an impact as a member of the Packers, but also as an opponent. Peppers was drafted by the Carolina Panthers number 2 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft. In his eight years with the Carolina Panthers, Peppers started 120 games, and played in 122! He also recorded six interceptions, 81 sacks, and 309 tackles. In his four-year stint with the Bears, he started all 64 games that he played in, had three interceptions, 37.5 sacks, and 135 tackles. With the Packers, the aging-but-still-young Julius Peppers played only three seasons. He was very effective for the Packers and fun to watch alongside Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. Peppers played in 48 games, and started 43 of them. He had two interceptions with the Packers, 25 sacks, and 74 tackles. With Pepper’s career most likely to end next season or the season after, it makes sense for him to go back to his original home team. The Panthers did struggle last season, starting off 1-5 after the first six weeks of the season. Peppers should help the solid Carolina defense, along with Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis. If Peppers does have a large impact, whether it be through on-field play or through veteran experience, the Carolina Panthers should be back on track to be tough in the NFC.
Drafted 26th overall by the Packers in 2013, Datone Jones has always struggled to live up to his first round potential. Playing in all sixteen games his rookie year, Jones recorded eight tackles, 3.5 sacks, and recovered one fumble. In his next three years with the Packers, Jones struggled to stay healthy, and when he was healthy, he did have somewhat of an impact on the field. In his next three years statistically, he had 50 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery. After four total years with Green Bay, Datone Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Vikings. Jones, an outside linebacker, will lineup with two more solid linebackers in Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. These two are arguably two of the toughest linebackers in football today. Jones will be a good fit with the Vikings. The Packers run a 3-4 base defense, and the Vikings a 4-3 base defense. If Jones doesn’t start, he will make a consistent playmaker in rotation. Jones still has a lot to prove after being drafted 26th overall, and still has plenty of time to do it.
Davon House: (Now BACK with the Packers)
Davon House was drafted by the Packers back in the fourth round in 2011. House only played in two games his rookie season with the Packers. In those two games, he recorded just one tackle. In his sophomore year with the Packers, House bumped up his stats. Starting in five games and playing in nine, he recorded twenty tackles, had one sack, and had five passes defended. In his third year, he played in all 16 regular season games, recording 36 tackles, his first interception, and had 12 passes defended. A year later after the 2014 season, House and the Packers parted ways as he signed a 4-year, $25 million deal. In Jacksonville, House had one of his most productive seasons of his career. He started in all 16 regular season games, recorded four interceptions, defended 23 passes, forced a fumble, and had 49 tackles. That is a very decent stat line for a player in their first year with a new team. Unfortunately, House was released early in his second year with Jacksonville. With all of the struggles that the Packers have had with the secondary in the past year, House was re-signed to his original team on a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Coming back to the Packers, House is going to fill a vital veteran role, in helping young studs like Damarious Randall and Kevin King bring the Packers secondary back to where we expect it to be.