Packers’ fans will have to live with two more departures as T.J. Lang and Julius Peppers signed elsewhere.
While the league year started just four days ago, Green Bay’s free agents have already been active. So far, the Packers’ biggest deal regarding its own players has been inking Nick Perry. But Ted Thompson strayed from his normal philosophy and added two new weapons in TEs Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks.
Besides even with the Bennett/Kendricks deals, the Packers have watched more players leave the team than join it. Micah Hyde and J.C. Tretter left for the Bills and Browns, respectively, on free agency’s first day.
Now, two more veterans add their names to the list of former Packers. Julius Peppers and T.J. Lang each will appear in different uniforms in 2017.
Peppers’ departure did not come as a big surprise. The 37-year-old linebacker’s three-year deal expired, and Green Bay wanted to get younger pass rushers. His production (25 sacks in three seasons) will be missed, but the Packers hope Perry and others can make up for the loss.
The linebacker returned to Carolina, where he spent the first eight years of his career. The Panthers gave Peppers a $3.5 million, one-year contract with added incentives for certain sack totals. While the deal ended up being cheap, the Packers were ready to move on.
More surprisingly was Lang’s leaving. The offensive guard just posted his first Pro Bowl season in 2016 while becoming one of the league’s top lineman. The Detroit Lions offered Lang a three-year deal, which the Packers apparently would not match. He’d spent his entire eight-year career in Green Bay, but injuries became a bigger concern.
Lang will undeniably be missed, as the guard was a fan favorite and valuable part of protecting Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have no obvious heir currently on the roster, so addressing the gap becomes a priority.