Packers 2018 offseason review: Offensive line

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 06: Anthony Zettel
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 06: Anthony Zettel /

A closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line ahead of free agency.

Not long ago the Green Bay Packers boasted one of the most talented offensive lines in football.

Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang formed the best guard duo in the league, while David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga locked down the tackle spots.

When fully healthy, the line is still in good shape.

Bakhtiari is arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle. He’s been named a second-team All-Pro twice and was a Pro Bowler in 2016. Bryan Bulaga, too, is a high quality right tackle when healthy.

But questions need to be asked elsewhere. Right now Bakhtiari, left guard Lane Taylor and center Corey Linsley make up three of the five starters.

The two biggest questions come at right guard and right tackle.

What’s next for Bryan Bulaga?

Bulaga is currently recovering from a torn ACL and could miss the start of the 2018 season. If he does, who will fill in for him?

Bulaga has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. As I noted in my article on Bulaga last week, he’s only played all 16 regular season games twice in eight years.

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He turns 29 in March and is coming off an ACL tear. Even if he is fully healthy by Week 1, it will be difficult for Bulaga to play at the same level with all these factors considered.

So what’s next? If nothing else, the Packers need to add a new tackle either through free agency or the draft.

But the Bulaga conundrum isn’t just based on his age or injury history. It’s also his cap number, which at $8.36 million in 2018 is the fourth highest among right tackles in the NFL, according to Over The Cap.

As things stand, Jason Spriggs would be the next man up at right tackle. But he too is returning from a significant knee injury, and his performances to this point haven’t inspired much confidence.

Justin McCray played admirably when asked to fill in all over the line, but would be suited to a permanent role at right tackle? He will be among the candidates battling for the right guard job in camp if Jahri Evans doesn’t return.

Should Jahri Evans come back?

But should the Packers re-sign Evans? He played well in 2017, but will turn 35 in August. Could he come back for another year and produce at a similar level?

Ideally, the Packers will move on and get younger at the position. But that’s easier said than done. If Evans leaves, who takes over?

As noted, McCray would be a candidate. So would Lucas Patrick, and potentially Kofi Amichia, a sixth-round draft choice last year.

It’s also possible the Packers turn to free agency again in the hope they find a veteran who can fill in for a year like Evans did.

The Packers have some tough decisions to make, particularly on the right side of the offensive line.

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How do you see it shaking out?