Packers: Tackle becomes bigger priority with Wagner gone

Green Bay Packers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Fast forward to Week 1 of the regular season. If the roster stayed the same, it’s entirely possible the Green Bay Packers‘ available tackles would be Billy Turner and Yosh Nijman.

Earlier this week, Green Bay released Rick Wagner, who started nine games in 2020. Wagner had replaced longtime right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who wasn’t re-signed a year ago.

It seems unlikely David Bakhtiari will be ready for the season opener after he tore his ACL on New Year’s Eve. If anyone can make a return so quickly, it’s Bakhtiari, but the Packers will have to plan to begin the season without him.

Pro Bowl guard Elgton Jenkins has proven he’s more than capable of playing at tackle, so it’s entirely possible the Packers’ long-term vision sees him line up there.

The depth at the interior positions could also support that case. Once Bakhtiari is back, Turner could slide back to guard. In the meantime, the Packers have Lucas Patrick and just last year drafted Jon Runyan and Simon Stepaniak. Another draft pick, Jake Hanson, could compete for the starting center job. Re-signing Lane Taylor to compete for a starting job at guard would also make sense.

But even if we assume Turner and Jenkins start and Nijman is the backup, the Packers will need to strengthen the depth in the offseason.

There will be opportunities to do so in the draft this April in what looks to be a strong offensive line class.

It will be difficult to find a starting tackle in free agency without having to spend big. And if the Packers are willing to spend money at the position, why not just keep Wagner, who was on an affordable deal?

Along with cornerback and defensive tackle, offensive tackle also needs to be high on the list of priorities for the Packers this offseason.