Another brick in the Wahle?

Why the Green Bay Packers should welcome back former guard

Sometimes in the NFL, fortune seems to smile for a team. Before the 1996 Super Bowl winning season, the Green Bay Packers were busy signing four free agents, and all played a part in the team's success that year. And the price to sign them was very affordable. The Packers signed WR Don Beebe, LB Ron Cox, DT Santana Dotson and KR/WR Desmond Howard. Howard became Super Bowl XXXI MVP and had a all-pro 1996 season and also an excellent post-season.

Dotson became part of one of the best defensive front fours in the NFL, along with DE Reggie White, DT Gilbert Brown and DE Sean Jones. Beebe was third on the team in receptions and also returned a kickoff for a TD. Cox was a reserve MLB, but became a starter in the playoffs due to an injury by George Koonce.

The Packers have a similar opportunity now. One of the positions that the Packers want to address in 2008 is the guard situation. The play there has been inconsistent and the coaching staff was rotating players at those positions most of the 2007 season. Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Junius Coston all had their opportunities. Coston ended up going on injured reserve with an ankle injury late in the year.

Colledge played tackle at Boise State, and although he has at times played very well at guard, the tackle position may be his best option. The Packers feature Pro Bowl left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Mark Tauscher, but both are in the early 30's and having depth at those positions would be a nice situation.

Spitz looks like he has finally perhaps found a home at RG. Spitz can also play C and has also played LG. The Packers also have another young guard in the mix with Allen Barbre. The coaching staff loves his ability, so keep an eye on him. Barbre also has the versatility to play tackle as well.

Packers should pursue Wahle
The free agency door bell may have rung yesterday. The Carolina Panthers cut former Packer LG Mike Wahle for salary cap reasons. Wahle is only 30 years old, is coming off a big payday contract with the Panthers, has played with a lot of the Packers offensive personnel, and has the athletic ability to play guard in the zone blocking scheme.

Green Bay's coaching staff knows him pretty well. Mike McCarthy was QB coach in 1999 when Wahle was in his second year with the Packers. Wahle was in a similar stage as Colledge at that time, trying to figure out whether he was a better guard or tackle. Also, both offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and offensive line coach James Campen know Wahle as well.

Philbin was an assistant offensive line coach in 2003-2004 while Wahle was still in Green Bay. Campen started in 2004 as assistant offensive line coach. In 2003, the Packers had one of the best offensive attacks, especially rushing the ball, in the NFL, with a line that included Wahle. In 2004, the Packers gained the most yards they had ever gained in team history, again with Wahle as a starting LG.

Wahle became a Pro Bowl player with the Panthers and also went to a Super Bowl. Wahle has played with C Scott Wells, along with Clifton and Tauscher. He has blocked for Brett Favre many times. He knows Donald Driver and Bubba Franks.

In March of 2005, Wahle received a five-year, $27 million contract from the Panthers, which included $11.5 million in bonuses over the first year. The Packers should be able to give him an affordable contract, without going overboard, with approximately the $25 million the Packers reportedly have under the cap.

However, Ted Thompson and Reggie McKenzie have to be sure that Wahle still has the athletic ability to be effective. If so, then the Packers would need to work on getting a deal done. The Packers know that the window is open in terms of making an appearance in the Super Bowl right now, and Wahle can be an asset.

In 1996, the stars became aligned just right for Green Bay, as key players came to the team in free agency to get them over the top. The 2008 off-season has a similar chance to do the same. I'm sure Thompson and McKenzie have some free agents that they are interested in. The dollars involved getting them to Green Bay will play a part in a marriage ever taking place.

Bringing Wahle back to Green Bay would be like a second marriage. If indeed it happens, and Thompson adds some more players through free agency and the draft, then the Packers might see a wedding reception in Tampa on Feb. 1, 2009. Super Bowl XLIII might be a wedding worth crashing.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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