As one of the most highly coveted members of the Green Bay Packers to hit unrestricted free agency in recent years, T.J. Lang can command a hefty salary on his upcoming deal. According to Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson, those around the league expect that number falling in the $8-10 million range.
The price for high-caliber guards has skyrocketed of late, with the Kansas City Chiefs agreeing to shell out $8.25 million annually for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and the Pittsburgh Steelers retaining David DeCastro for $10 million per year. In addition to Lang's anticipated salary, Robinson reports that fellow free-agent guard Kevin Zeitler could sign for anywhere between $10-12 million a season. For Lang, a proven starter who earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2016, those forces equate to a considerable pay raise over his five-year, $20.8 million deal from 2012.
The question for the Packers becomes whether it makes sense to offer a comparable contract. Lang has said he plans to give the team an opportunity to match any offer he receives. While that bodes well for his odds of re-signing, it that doesn't outright guarantee the guard ultimately remains in Green Bay. Even at the lowest end of the reported salary range, Lang would become the second-highest salaried member of his offensive line behind left tackle David Bakhtiari. With Corey Linsley set to hit free agency a year from now, retaining the soon-to-be 30-year-old Lang could mean losing one of the better centers in the league.
At the same time, Lang has served as the leader of the offensive line since Josh Sitton's departure and possesses value beyond his playing ability. Even if he costs more than the Packers wish to pay for an interior blocker, they might ultimately decide continuity and consistency outweigh the savings from letting him walk.