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Packers made correct call on Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang

Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson drew heavy criticism for allowing Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang to depart Green Bay. However, with injuries derailing both guards in their subsequent stops, Thompson’s decisions look wise in retrospect.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Over a 12-month period, former Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson parted ways with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, a tandem of Pro Bowl guards that helped the team lead the league in scoring on multiple occasions. Thompson drew heavy criticism for those moves, especially after the Packers’ O-line faltered along the interior in recent seasons. However, the years since both Sitton and Lang departed have validated Thompson’s decisions.

Since leaving Green Bay, the two ex-Packers guards have struggled to stay healthy. Sitton made it only two years and 26 games into his three-year contract with the Chicago Bears before the team released him. He resurfaced with the Miami Dolphins in 2018 but landed on season-ending injured reserve after suffering a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. Sitton reportedly expects the Dolphins to release him later this offseason.

Meanwhile, Lang has dealt with arguably more turmoil during his post-Green Bay career. He missed several games during his first season with the Detroit Lions and all but six this past year. Though the Lions haven’t made any decision on Lang’s future, general manager Bob Quinn declined to commit to the veteran lineman for 2019. Like Sitton, Lang could end up with a pink slip in the coming weeks.

Sitton and Lang could have enjoyed more success had they remained in Green Bay, but it seems unlikely either would have completely avoided the health issues they’ve since encountered. Sitton’s chronic back issues became a weekly maintenance concern during his final seasons with the Packers while various ailments had begun to limit Lang’s availability before he left in free agency. Had the team re-signed one or both, it could have found itself in the same precarious position as the Dolphins and Lions.

All of which validates Thompson’s decisions to let his longtime starting guards leave. Though he made some critical mistakes during his final seasons as the Packers’ GM, Sitton and Lang’s departure don’t rank among them.