Is Green Bay justified in bringing back all five starters from an offensive line that allowed an NFL-high 51 sacks last season?
Over the past 10 days, the Packers re-signed left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Mark Tauscher. Meanwhile, center Scott Wells and right guard Josh Sitton received strong endorsements from coach Mike McCarthy. Left guard Daryn Colledge appears to be the only 2009 starter whose status remains in limbo; Colledge is a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender and could find himself in a competition with Jason Spitz for the job.
There is no debating the Packers’ line improved over the course of last season, in a timetable roughly corresponding to Tauscher’s return as a starter. But it’s only fair to credit a number of factors for reducing the sack rate, including noticeable play-calling changes from McCarthy and a quicker release from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. To say the line worked through all of its problems would overstate its progress.
With that said, the Packers also learned a valuable lesson about entrusting new starters (i.e., right tackle Allen Barbre) with no safety net. So in an uncapped environment, the most prudent course of action might be to bring as many bodies to the table as possible -- incumbents, veteran reserves, new draft picks -- to provide multiple options in training camp. It’s fine if Clifton, Tauscher, Wells and Sitton open camp as clear first-team players -- as long as the Packers have some options should they falter.