G T.J. Lang Leaves the Packers to Sign With Lions
Guard T.J. Lang has signed with the Detroit Lions. A fourth round pick in 2009, Lang played 119 games with the Packers over eight seasons.
2016 season recap verdict: Exceeded high expectations
Lang’s contract with Detroit: 3 years, $28.5 million with $19 million guaranteed
Projected compensatory pick range: 3rd or 4th round
The Packers next play the Lions: Twice in 2017 as part of NFC North play
Lang is best understood as the best possible version of the stereotypical offensive lineman. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s occasionally foul-mouthed, and he’ll always stand up for his teammates on the field. To know him is to love him, and the Packers have had a lot to love over the years.
It’s easy to forget that Lang bounced around several offensive line positions early in his career before finding a home at guard. He’s consistently been one of the league’s best over the past few seasons, and showed last year that he has plenty left in the tank.
How Lang’s signing helps the Lions
Lang is a well rounded guard who will pass and run block with the best of them in addition to serving as your team’s unofficial enforcer. He’ll turn 30 in September and has dealt with various injuries throughout his career, including a broken foot during the middle of last season and a hip injury that required surgery in the Packers’ final game of the year.
It’s hard to say how long his skills will hold given his age, but for the time being there should be no concerns about his level of play.
If possible, should the Packers have matched this contract?
Lang's market value was considered to be between $8.5 and $10 million per year, which is a fairly steep price for a guard that's soon to be on the wrong side of 30. With recent contracts given to Nick Perry and Martellus Bennett, Lang would have eaten up a significant portion of the remainder of the Packers' cap space.
It's possible that the Packers valued potential defensive additions more than Lang's contributions on offense, no matter how good he may have been.
Does Lang leaving help or hurt the Packers?
If his game has tailed off at all, it hasn’t been noticeable, but Lang is at the age where you start to wonder when Father Time will start to take what’s his.
But in the short term, it’s hard to see how Lang’s departure doesn’t hurt the Packers. He’s been a stalwart on the line for the better part of the decade, and linemen of his quality don’t grow on trees.
In the long run, the Packers may benefit from cap flexibility from not having to fit another big contract onto the books. They also stand to receive a compensatory pick for Lang’s departure.