The Green Bay Packers offensive line is pretty much set for 2014, with one glaring exception: center.
The Packers brass, in their infinite wisdom, has instituted a revolving door policy at the center position. Aaron Rodgers will enter this season taking snaps from his fourth different center in the past four years.
First, the Packers let Scott Wells leave as a free agent. Then they signed Jeff Saturday. He was awful, eventually lost his job and then retired after a single season. Evan Dietrich-Smith was the guy who took Saturday’s job, but got just over a season as a starter. The Packers gave exactly zero shits about Dietrich-Smith this offseason and he signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay.
This year, the guy will be someone who’s young and untested.
The good news about that is, the Packers will presumably have the center position set for a while. Providing either of these guys are any good, of course.
Here are the suspects.
Tretter (6-4, 307) came to the Packers as a fourth-round pick in 2013. He played tackle in college, but was almost immediately anointed the Packers center of the future. He also almost immediately broke his ankle. The injury happened in May and Tretter remained on the physically unable to perform list until December. So, it’s kind of like Tretter is a rookie all over again.
Then again, it’s kind of not. All we’ve heard about all offseason is how Tretter has been studying and working hard. Obviously he’s done something productive with his time and knows the system pretty well. We also keep hearing how smart Tretter is and that stands to reason. He went to Cornell, so he’s obviously an egghead.
The Packers picked Linsley in the fifth round this year. Unlike Tretter, he played two seasons of center in college (Ohio State). He’s known as a mauler, but is a little bit smaller than Tretter (6-3, 296). Linsley can get after it, but he doesn’t possess the same type of athleticism as Tretter does.
His familiarity with the position and that mean streak will have to be the difference if he has designs on starting.
Tretter has two clear advantages and that’s why he gets the nod. First, he’s got that year in the Packers system. Second, he’s the bigger and more athletic of the two players. We know the Packers are looking to get a bigger body who is more athletic in the middle of the line.
No one was ever going to accuse Evan Dietrich-Smith of being athletic.
Tretter is going to be that guy.