Image via 247 Sports
The pros: A lot can be said about continuity. The Packers offensive line was one of the top rated lines in terms of pass protection last season. When you throw it as much as the Packers do, keeping 12 upright is obviously extremely important. Leadership is something else championship caliber football teams need, and TJ brings a lot of that to the table. Can you put a price on a proven leader that’s been a part of the team since 2009? That has to be taken heavily into consideration. Another factor that’s a positive for bringing TJ back is age. He is only 29 (will be 30 in September). I would be comfortable giving TJ a three-year deal. Paying him into his age 34 season would scare me a little, but we will cross that bridge when we get there. The final and probably the most important reason to pay him is production. He is coming off of the best season of his nine-year career, earning a trip to his first pro bowl.
The cons: TJ has played in 119 of the possible 128 games in his career, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, durability could become a big factor in deciding if the Packers keep him around. He missed three games during this past season with a fractured foot. Shortly after returning from a fractured foot, he suffered a hip injury. While he didn’t miss any time due to it, he had to have surgery on it after the NFC Championship game. 30 isn’t old, but 30 coming off of hip surgery is a concern. The last con of keeping TJ around is the price tag. The cap in the NFL is going up, which means more and more teams have more money to spend. According to Ian Rapoport, the Chiefs just inked guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a five-year deal worth about 41 million dollars. While Lang is three years older than Duvernay-Tardif, he could still expect a similar dollar amount. That’s a lot of money to pay a guard. A lot of people think guard is the least valuable or easiest position to replace. Ted sort of proved that point last year with plugging in Lane Taylor for Josh Sitton. This is a different situation than last year because I am not sure there is another Lane Taylor on the Packers current roster.
I hope Ted pays TJ. He’s an important part of the offense. This offensive line clicked last year, why break that unit up? In a perfect world, the Packers could create more cap space by restructuring overpaid guys or just cutting them, but that doesn’t always happen. My heart tells me that he is going to stay, but my gut tells me Ted is going to let him walk. If he lets him walk and resigns Don Barclay to take his spot, I am going to lose my mind, as will many other Packer fans I’m sure. The Packers have until March 9th to make a decision on him before other teams can sign him. Only time will tell.