A full week has passed since the Green Bay Packers shocked the NFL world by releasing starting left guard Josh Sitton, revealing little of why they decided to part ways with one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history. However, the intrepid reporting of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn has finally shed light on the events that led to the shocking move.
As McGinn reveals, the Packers began exploring a trade for Sitton approximately a week before they ultimately released him as part of the final roster cutdown. The team took a more earnest approach last Saturday, going as far to inform Sitton that he would either be traded or released. The decision to tell Sitton ended up backfiring when Green Bay failed to find a trade partner with suitable interest, cap space and compensation.
With no way to unload Sitton for a draft pick, the Packers felt they had created a toxic environment where Sitton -- a well liked player in the locker room but one known for speaking his mind -- would eventually become "incorrigible and threaten locker-room chemistry." Furthermore, the team feared that any new deals for younger linemen like David Bakhtiari or JC Tretter could make the Sitton situation worse. Though McGinn argues that head coach Mike McCarthy could have sold Sitton on towing the line and cashing in next year after a Super Bowl run, Green Bay apparently believed the parties had crossed the point of no return.
All of which underscores the issue with the Packers' approach to trading Sitton. In a vacuum, securing a third- or fourth-round pick for the veteran guard in next year's draft as opposed to a compensatory selection in 2018 makes some sense. Even a fourth-rounder in the upcoming draft holds greater value than a third-round comp pick a season later.
However, as McGinn notes, the Packers could have worked the phones to locate a trade partner earlier in the offseason, perhaps even before the draft. By waiting until the Sept. 3 cutdown deadline, they painted themselves into a corner from which they felt the only escape lay in releasing their best offensive lineman.