Don't tell Aaron Rodgers yet, but he will now have his fourth different starting center in the last four seasons.
The Packers officially lost their first free agent of 2014: center Evan Dietrich-Smith. On Friday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they and Dietrich-Smith have agreed to a four-year deal. The deal is reported to be worth $14.25 million dollars ($3.56 yearly average, $7.25 million guaranteed).
After returning to the Packers on a one-year deal this past season, Dietrich-Smith, 27, started all 16 regular season games at center for the Packers along with their playoff matchup against the 49ers. Dietrich-Smith took over midway through the 2012 season once the Jeff Saturday experiment became a failure.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dietrich-Smith finished the 2013 season with an overall grade of +12.1, which was eighth-best out of a total 35 centers who played at least 400 snaps. Dietrich-Smith played a total of 1,137 snaps and missed only 68 throughout the season, giving up only five sacks in 17 total games.
Ted Thompson once again will now have to make a decision regarding the center position for next season, and we examined some of the options earlier this week. Despite missing most of 2013 due to an ankle injury, JC Tretter has a fair (and the most probable) shot at taking over the starting spot at center next season. The other possibility for the Packers is going after Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack, who is a transition free agent. Green Bay still has about $20 million in cap room, but the Browns could match any contract offer from another team.
On Monday, we looked at all of the options for the Packers if Dietrich-Smith did indeed depart