Here’s a line you don’t hear every day:
It’s been a good offseason to be a guard.
No, it’s been a great offseason to be a guard.
And that’s great news for T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton — and potentially bad news for the Green Bay Packers 12 months from now, when their standout guard tandem will get their crack at free agency.
Kelechi Osemele went from Baltimore to Oakland on a stunning five-year deal worth $58.5 million. That works out to $11.7 million per season and makes him the highest-paid guard in the league — and No. 2 on the list isn’t even close.
Brandon Brooks went from Houston to Philadelphia on a five-year deal worth $40 million. That’s $8 million per season, tying him with Arizona’s Mike Iupati as the second-highest-paid guard in the league.
Houston replaced Brooks with Jeff Allen, who bolted from Kansas City on a four-year deal worth $28 million. That’s $7 million per season, which places him seventh on the list of highest-paid guards.
Alex Boone went from San Francisco to Minnesota on a four-year deal worth $26.8 million. That $6.7 million average makes him the ninth-highest-paid guard in the league.
J.R. Sweezy went from Seattle to Tampa Bay on a five-year deal worth $32.5 million. That’s $6.5 million per season, which makes him the 10th-highest-paid guard in the league.
Those five guards have combined for zero Pro Bowls. Sitton, on the other hand, is a three-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. The Packers’ standout left guard now ranks just eighth among all guards with an average salary of $6.8 million.
Lang, Green Bay’s right guard, ranks 13th among all guards with his average of $5.2 million per season. Brooks, the new highest-paid right guard in the league, pocketed $17 million in guarantees — almost as much as the total value of Lang’s $20.8 million contract.
The escalating pay at what had been a relatively anonymous position is likely just one more factor in general manager Ted Thompson’s conservative approach to the start of this free-agent signing period. It’s clearly one reason why he kept Lane Taylor with a two-year deal before the start of free agency, with Taylor serving as insurance should Thompson not be able to afford both of his veteran guards. Not only does Thompson have to consider re-signing Sitton and Lang next offseason, but young left tackle David Bakhtiari will be a free agent, as well. The total value of Bakhtiari’s rookie deal was $2.62 million. His new deal likely will be more than 10 times that amount.
“All of that is in play,” Thompson said at the Scouting Combine when asked about managing the cap with one eye on this year and another eye on the future. “It’s not just what are you going to do next week when free agency starts and spend X amount of dollars. You have to counter that with, ‘What are you going to do with that? What’s your draft going to look like this year? Not only this year, but next year. What’s free agency going to look like next year? What is your draft and develop going to be doing all this time? You have to think about what you’re doing.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.