T.J. Lang believes there’s a good chance he will hit the open market.
That’s how the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl guard described his mindset a little more than three weeks before the start of free agency.
Lang, who likely would be the Packers’ most expensive free agent to re-sign, said Monday in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he “hasn’t heard a word” from the Packers about a new contract.
“I said it after the season about obviously wanting to stay in Green Bay, and I still feel that way, but at this point I don’t really have any other options,” Lang said. “I have to prepare as if I’m going to hit the open market and see what the options are.”
Complicating matters is the hip surgery Lang underwent less than a week after the season. He said he will be on crutches for another month. He’s also dealing with a fractured foot that kept him out three games late in the regular season. The same injury knocked him out of the NFC Championship Game loss at Atlanta.
“The closer it gets, the more prepared I am to go out and see what’s out there,” Lang said. “A part of me, too, stresses a little bit just [about] the unknown sitting here thinking maybe there will be five, six, seven teams that come after me and then maybe there’s only one team. Maybe there’s not any teams. Are teams going to be turned away because I had the hip surgery even though it’s a pretty common procedure around the NFL?
“But I’m just excited to see what’s going to happen. If Green Bay calls and we can get something done, that would be awesome. But if not, I’m sitting a good spot here, too, coming off a pretty solid year and making my first Pro Bowl, which was a great honor. It’s been so long since I was in this position to choose who I want to play for, since college when I picked Eastern Michigan.”
Lang, a fourth-round pick in 2009, has been a full-time starter since 2011 and has played in 119 of a possible 128 games in his eight-year career. He signed a four-year, $20.8 million contract extension shortly before his fourth season, in 2012.
Last August, the Packers told both Lang and fellow guard Josh Sitton they would not discuss contract extensions with them during the season. Instead, they cut Sitton and signed David Bakhtiari to a four-year extension that averages $12 million per season.
It’s not uncommon for the Packers to wait until the final days or even hours before free agency to strike a deal with their pending free agents. They did just that in recent years with cornerback Sam Shields, tackle Bryan Bulaga and receiver Randall Cobb. However, all were coming off their rookie deals. Last offseason, they re-signed kicker Mason Crosby about a week before free agency.
When asked if he reads anything into the lack of contract discussions with the Packers, Lang said: “I try not to because it’s easy to get a little disgruntled I guess, but I had awesome exit interviews after the season with coach [Mike] McCarthy and my position coach, James Campen, and I really got the feel that everyone wanted me to come back and felt like I was going to be a priority.”