Over half a week has passed since the Green Bay Packers' release of Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton at the 53-man cutdown deadline, and yet the team has revealed little about its basis for the decision. However, a report from The Athletic's Dan Pompei claims that the Packers made the move for reasons beyond just money.
Sitton entered 2016 with just one year remaining on his contract. At age 30 with a history of back issues, Green Bay decided not to pursue a new deal with the veteran guard. According to Pompei, the team grew concerned that Sitton, "known for being a bit salty," could become a problem in the locker room after informing him that lack of interest in an extension. That apprehension, along with the Packers' desire to reach long-term agreements with soon-to-be free agents David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter, Eddie Lacy and others, ultimately resulted in Sitton's release on Saturday.
Pompei even takes it a step further, suggesting that absent a new deal Sitton would have become a bona fide thorn in Green Bay's side:
The contract issue created tension between the team and Sitton, who is known for being a bit salty. Had the Packers kept him without committing to him beyond 2016, there would have been problems on the horizon.
At the same time, nearly everything Pompei says about Sitton also applies to his close friend and fellow starting lineman T.J. Lang. Like Sitton, Lang has dealt with a series of injuries over the past few years (though neither has missed much time). Lang turns 29 on Sept. 20, putting him in a similar age range as his now departed line mate. However, Lang remains a part of the Packers' starting offensive line, at least for 2016.
The report also doesn't mention the compensatory pick the Packers could have received had Sitton played out his contract and signed with another team. The team's front office clearly values such draft selections, as it regularly targets "street" free agents such as Julius Peppers and Jared Cook rather than those of the unrestricted variety during the offseason in order to maximize their compensatory returns.
Regardless, Pompei offers the first meaningful insight into the Packers' thinking regarding the move. Unless the team breaks custom and offers their side of the story, football observers have little else to go on.