Monday, September 05, 2016

Packers 2016 Roster: Josh Sitton Released, Signs With Bears

Every year I write a post before the start of the season about the players who were kept or released by the Green Bay Packers, and the composition of their initial practice squad. Most of these moves weren't a surprise, though I expected a couple more players like Janis and Davis would end up on I.R. instead of the 53-man roster, and the practice squad is made up of most of the players I expected. But one move was just shocking:
This was unbelievable. I couldn't write about it on the Saturday when it happened. It took me two more days to process it and try to come a conclusion of why they did it. It would have been OK if they allowed him to leave in free agency after the season, gained a compensatory draft pick for their loss, and moved onto the next man up. I don't agree with the timing of this move, and the following is the best sense I can make of it.
When asked point blank if Sitton's release makes the Packers a better team, Mike McCarthy dodged the question. Instead he made the above statement. Sitton's release probably doesn't make them a better team for Week 1 at Jacksonville, but he thinks this will be better overall for the team. How this makes "all aspects of (the) program" better is open to speculation.
Lane Taylor, their new starting left guard, was so bad during their last preseason game against Kansas City that I thought he would be the player being released on Saturday, not Sitton. But this decision isn't just about one preseason game. They've been watching Sitton for the past eight years and Taylor for the past four years. All of that experience went into their decision. McCarthy seems to be saying that Taylor is just as good as a run blocker and he'll be a good pass blocker with more game experience. He might be right, he might be wrong.
McCarthy digressed a little bit and talked about premium vs. non-premium positions. He called the quarterback the most important position on the team, and while he didn't specifically say his guards were playing a non-premium position, that's the implication. Playing a lesser, but still good, player at guard won't change the outcome of any game. I think the switch from Sitton to Taylor is going to lead to at least a couple more sacks this season. At the most, three or four. Of course, it only takes one sack to cause a significant injury to Aaron Rodgers but that appears to be an acceptable risk in their book, and guards are a lot less likely to make bad plays that lead to sacks than tackles. They felt this is a risk worth taking because of all the benefits it provides (salary cap room for extensions, avoiding the risk of Sitton's decline due to weight loss and/or bad back, sometimes Sitton could be a pain in the ass).

I don't like this move, but I'm usually on the wrong side of hanging onto to veterans for too long. The release of Josh Sitton feels all kinds of wrong, but it's more likely that this was the right decision when we're looking back on it in a few years.

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