'This wasn't just one thing': Several layers to Packers cutting Josh Sitton

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- From a pure football standpoint, Mike McCarthy may not have been convincing when asked how the Green Bay Packers are a better team without guard Josh Sitton.

But two days after the Packers surprisingly cut the three-time Pro Bowl selection, McCarthy gave every reason to think the decision was more than just about X's and O's or finances.

“There’s a lot of things that go into this decision,” McCarthy said. “This wasn’t just one thing.”

The first public sign of trouble between Sitton and the organization came last season after Sitton criticized the offensive game plan after the Packers lost at Arizona in Week 16. Less than two weeks later, McCarthy responded to a question about players being critical of the offense by saying, “Josh Sitton needs to play guard” instead of bellyaching about play calling.

Sitton can be both charming and cantankerous and given how McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson regularly talk about the importance of locker-room chemistry, that likely played a factor in this move.

When asked how cutting a veteran player like Sitton could impact the locker room, McCarthy said: “I’m not going to sit here and go through every variable, every component of our program, but each player is evaluated. Every person that touches the locker room has always been evaluated because the locker room is the most important room in our building, frankly, in my opinion. Decisions are made all the time about trying to improve and continue the flow of growth for our football program.”

McCarthy spoke on behalf of the organization because Thompson does not typically talk to reporters after he makes the final cuts.

As expected, McCarthy said Lane Taylor will start in place of Sitton at left guard, which means the Packers replaced one of their most reliable (Sitton missed just two games since he became a starter in 2009) and successful players with one who has two NFL starts to his credit.

It’s hard to argue that makes the Packers better on the field, even if it's only the loss of an interior lineman.

“I believe there are positions in football that are primary positions and some positions not to that level,” McCarthy said. “It’s just like any profession, when you outline job responsibility and what you’re asking each position to do, there are some positions you put in front of the others. I think we all understand that the quarterback position is the most important position in football, that goes without being said.

“To sit there and say, are you a better team or not a better team because of one player, we haven’t even played a game yet. So this is about growth for our football program. Every decision we make is in the best interest of improving all aspects of our program. This is not about one player. This about our football team.”

It’s not clear when the Packers started to sour on Sitton -- or Sitton on the Packers -- but it came to a head at some point during training camp when the team informed him and fellow guard T.J. Lang that they would not talk about new contracts for either one during the season.

As McCarthy reiterated, "once again, there’s a lot that goes into that decision."