If the Green Bay Packers view Evan Dietrich-Smith as their future starting center, they're banking that no one else sees what they see in the young offensive lineman. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Dietrich-Smith has been hit with a low restricted free agent tender. If he is signed by another team, the Packers will receive no compensation.
If Dietrich-Smith signs his tender and no team offers him a contract, he will make $1.32 million next season. The compensation for that tender is the round that a player was drafted in. Because Dietrich-Smith was undrafted, the Packers will receive no compensation if he signs elsewhere. The team will have an opportunity to match any contract he's offered.
A week ago, it looked like Dietrich-Smith was going to be the starting center heading into camp. Tex put the Packers' chances of re-signing him at 98 percent. This is a very surprising move to say the least, especially given that the free agent center market is weak and second-round tenders were placed on similar players, as Silverstein noted.
Second-round tenders were submitted for New Orleans' Brian De La Puente and Tennessee's Fernando Velasco, a pair of restricted free agents who are two of the best center options available. After that, the market consists of older veterans like Todd McClure, Dan Koppen and Rob Turner.
It would be surprising if someone didn't make Dietrich-Smith an offer, given the lack of compensation that a team would have to pay out to sign him. Whether or not the Packers will have any interest in matching an offer is anyone's guess. A second-round tender would have cost the Packers just a hair over $2 million next season, which would have been decent value for a player of Dietrich-Smith's quality.
At the moment, it's very difficult to make sense of this move, but Ted Thompson and Dietrich-Smith's representatives should speak about it eventually.