I’m sure many of the faithful in Packer Nation are wondering why the Green Bay Packers decided to reportedly bring back offensive lineman Don Barclay. According to an article by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Barclay will re-sign with the team.
This decision probably shocked more than just a few people, especially based on the performance of Barclay in 2015. No. 67 started five games for the Packers last season, four at right tackle and one at left tackle. In those games, Barclay gave up nine sacks and multiple pressures.
To be fair, Barclay was coming off an ACL tear which kept him out the entire 2014 season.
Still, the Packers knew that Barclay did not have the feet necessary to play offensive tackle in the NFL. That’s why the team played him at guard most of the 2012 training camp, after he was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of West Virginia.
I was at training camp a number of times in 2012 and Barclay was impressive. He was tenacious to the whistle and his run-blocking stood out while he played inside. When injuries and lack of depth occurred at the tackle position, Barclay started getting some reps at right tackle behind Bryan Bulaga.
Barclay showed the coaching staff enough that summer in training camp to make the team. A little over halfway through the 2012 season, Barclay was suddenly thrust into starting at right tackle, as Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 9.
Barclay had his ups and his downs in four starts at right tackle throughout that season. Overall, his pass-blocking was adequate, although he struggled versus edge rushers. Like he showed in training camp, Barclay was better than average as a run-blocker.
In 2013, the plan was for Barclay to get more work inside at guard, plus he had some reps at center as well. But when Bulaga tore his ACL on Family Night, Barclay was pressed to play right tackle again for the entire season.
Once again, Barclay struggled with edge rushers in 14 starts. But all in all, he did a somewhat decent job protecting the quarterback for the most part. The run-blocking of Barclay was his again his biggest attribute.
In 2014, the plan was for Barclay to be sort of the Swiss Army Knife for the offensive line and play both inside and outside in reserve. But then he tore his ACL and missed the entire year.
The ACL tear took it’s toll on Barclay last season, as his lack of foot speed was very apparent when he played either tackle position, but especially left tackle.
After his dismal pass-blocking performance in the Week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals at left tackle, as the team gave up nine sacks as a team, the Packers never looked at Barclay again at either tackle position the rest of the season or the playoffs.
The most important player on the Packers is quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It’s imperative that the team protects No. 12 with the best possible set of offensive tackles.
Bulaga is one of the best right tackles in the NFL when he’s healthy. Left tackle David Bakhtiari played hurt in 2015, but has made steady improvement over his three years in the NFL.
The Packers need to find quality talent and depth at the position, especially since Bulaga has been somewhat injury prone (38 missed games) his entire career. Up until last season, Bakhtiari had been fairly healthy, but it’s also important to know that he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017 as well.
To me, there is only one reason that the Packers are bringing back Barclay. It’s because the Packers want him to get some reps at guard, where he was best suited to play when he first arrived in the NFL.
Barclay’s run-blocking skills can be better utilized at guard, plus the pass-blocking issues that Barclay has had in the past will not be so apparent on the inside of the line.
The Packers know that they could have some issues at the guard position soon. Both left guard Josh Sitton and right guard T.J. Lang have played hurt the past couple of years. Plus, both players will be unrestricted free agents in 2017.
Another player who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017 is center/guard JC Tretter. Tretter did a nice job playing center last year while Corey Linsley was injured, plus did a pretty nice job at left tackle in the playoff game against the Washington Redskins.
The Packers also re-signed backup guard Lane Taylor to a two-year, $4.15 million contract early last month. Taylor made only two starts last season and was active for just six games, including playoffs, but the Packers saw enough in his performance to bring him back.
The Packers are also very high on Matt Rotheram, who spent all of the 2015 season on the practice squad. In fact, the Packers upped the salary for Rotheram in early December to over $25,000 per week, which is active roster money.
The Packers did the same thing with defensive lineman Christian Ringo. That procedure is usually done when another NFL team is attempting to the sign a player like Rotheram or Ringo to their active roster.
Back to Barclay. I can’t see the Packers offering him more than the minimum veteran’s salary to come back. He certainly won’t make the $1.542 million he made last season.
Bottom line, I believe the Packers are going to give Barclay an opportunity at the position that he looked pretty good at in training camp in 2012. That would be at guard.
I may be wrong, but the Packers would be much better served to find more quality depth at the offensive tackle position in the 2016 NFL draft.
Let Barclay play the guard position that he is best suited for and let’s see what happens.