ESPN’s Rob Demovsky came out and said that he believes the Packers are going to either release or trade starting offensive guard Lane Taylor. He has been in a very close training camp battle with second round pick Elgton Jenkins. Jenkins has been impressive and has not allowed a single rush during a preseason game yet. Yes, it is only a preseason game, but it is impressive nonetheless. The Packers have a great problem right now, two starting quality offensive linemen they need to choose from. There are many teams who are jealous of this “problem.” If the Packers decide to release or trade Lane Taylor they will regret it and here’s why:
The Packers seem to fall victim to injuries every season. Last year they had 10 different offensive linemen take snaps for them and only one player, Corey Linsley, played every snap at center. The Packers lacked depth last season, but this has the chance to be different with versatile second round pick Elgton Jenkins and first year player Cole Madison coming back to football after experiencing off-field issues no player should have to go through. Jenkins played every position on the offensive line in college except for right guard, so he is a valuable plug and play backup at almost every position. Releasing Lane Taylor means that Jenkins will be starting at left guard and the Packers are counting on first year player Cole Madison as the backup. He has had an impressive camp so far, but he is an unproven player.
Lane Taylor’s absence is putting the Packers at risk if a linemen has to miss time due to injury.
With Lane Taylor in the starting unit, the Packers are an experienced group. Billy Turner and Corey Linsley would have the least amount of experience with four full seasons. Experience is key in the NFL and especially in the offensive line. With Bakhtari, Taylor, Linsley, Turner, and Bulaga, the team would have four returning starters who are used to playing together. Adding Elgton Jenkins to the starting unit does not hurt the team, but removing the experienced Lane Taylor from the second unit does. Taylor is a player with enough experience to jump in the offensive line and not miss a beat. Plugging in Madison will have growing pains. He is inexperienced and will need to get his feet under him. If he needs to come in while the Packers are trying to make a playoff push it could spell trouble for the offense.
Bryan Bulaga Insurance:
Bryan Bulaga is a great right tackle and dominates his opponents when healthy. The problem with Bryan Bulaga is that he is never healthy for a full season. Bulaga has only played a full season one time in his career and that came in 2016. The Packers are aware of this and have been cautious during training camp giving him days off and shorter practice time. The Packers also seem to have a plan if he becomes injured. They have moved Billy Turner to right tackle and brought Elgton Jenkins in at right guard. If they move on from Lane Taylor the Packers will need to replace Jenkins with Cole Madison. Can Cole Madison do well? Maybe, but for a team trying to return to the playoffs maybe is not what they are looking for. Bryan Bulaga is also in a contract year, and unless he is willing to take a pay cut, it does look like he will return to the Packers next season. The Packers had a replacement plan for Bulaga set, but with Taylor’s potential departure they are either confident in Cole Madison or are looking to add another piece next offseason.
Trading or releasing Lane Taylor has some benefits. The Packers would save $3.1 million this season, have a roster spot open for players released from other teams, and it gives Elgton Jenkins experience. The Packers have pieces on the team to really turn it around this coming season, and have depth in the trenches (offensive and defensive lines) for the first time in years. The Packers should look to keep the offensive line together for this season because if they do not, they will probably end up regretting it.