The Green Bay Packers‘ checklist in action:
• Re-sign cornerback Sam Shields to a $39 million, four-year extension – check.
• Show interest and move in on a defensive lineman – almost a check.
• Re-sign center Evan Dietrich-Smith – going away quickly.
The Packers have the money to spend and should have the interest in re-signing Dietrich-Smith, but there are other teams who are also, rightfully so, interested in buying his services – teams that could outbid the Packers.
How Green Bay approaches negotiations with Dietrich-Smith will not only determine whether he will return, but it will also shape how the Packers continue on in free agency and how they draft come May.
If Dietrich-Smith goes to a team like the New York Giants – one with which he was being courted as of Monday night – he will leave a void in the middle of the offensive line that will be a challenge to fill. They could go with J.C. Tretter, the second-year player who was out all of last season with a broken ankle. They could go with T.J. Lang, though he has been rough in his time at the position; or we could consider what Jason Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Co. contemplated in moving LT David Bakhtiari from the outside to the center.
There is a real chance that Dietrich-Smith moves on. If he does, the options are limited, but not overly serious. The Packers have always liked their linemen to be versatile and we’ve seen the juggling of the line more than we would have liked. Keeping the current group together would be a huge bonus for the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. I would probably venture to guess that Eddie Lacey would also like to see that group stay together.
But to do it won’t be easy for Green Bay.