Lost in the shuffle of unrestricted free agency and all the draft discussions is the fact that the Green Bay Packers' presumptive starting center, Evan Dietrich-Smith, remained unsigned throughout the entire process...until now. As reported by multiple sources, Dietrich-Smith has signed his restricted free agent tender and will report when the team begins its off-season programs this week.
Dietrich-Smith's tender will pay him $1.323 million, and that hit on the salary cap is the 24th-highest for the team at this time. It seems apparent that the Packers made the correct decision placing the "original round" tender on Dietrich-Smith. It came as a bit of a surprise to many Packers fans that he was not valued more highly in order to discourage other teams from trying to sign him, but there did not seem to be much of a market for his services outside of Green Bay.
With Dietrich-Smith now under contract and reporting this week, we are free to speculate on whether Ted Thompson will draft a center early on in this year's NFL Draft to compete with him. As the Journal-Sentinel notes in their report, the Packers appear interested in giving Greg Van Roten an opportunity to push Dietrich-Smith, but it seems unlikely that the team would go into camp without at least one other lineman to help solidify the interior of the offensive line.