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Making sense of the Packers re-signing Don Barclay

The backup lineman appears to have had very little interest from teams outside of Green Bay and he's coming back on a new deal. APC examines why re-signing a player who struggled mightily in 2015 might not be that bad an idea.

Don Barclay is back in the mix along the Packers offensive line
Don Barclay is back in the mix along the Packers offensive line
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, news came out of Green Bay that the Packers have re-signed offensive lineman Don Barclay to a one-year deal. While financial details have yet to emerge, I assume, as did APC’s Jason B. Hirschhorn in his article reporting the signing, that it’s for little to no guaranteed money. I cringed in my initial reaction to the news, as I’m sure most of you did as well. Ted Thompson is known for being loyal to his players, but this decision has left many wondering if Thompson is being a little too generous with how Barclay performed last season.

To say Barclay struggled last year is a bit of an understatement. While playing 32.6% of the offensive plays last year, he gave up a team-high nine sacks, including giving up four sacks and being absolutely dominated in a week 16 loss to Arizona. Pro Football Focus ranked him the 76th-best tackle in the league. Unfortunately for Barclay, there were only 77 tackles in the league last year. With stats and rankings like that, it left me wondering what the motivation would be into bringing Barclay back. So, personal feelings of the signing aside, let’s put on our GM cap and look at a few reasons why Thompson may have brought Barclay back to Green Bay.

The first reason that comes to mind is that Thompson is hoping that last year was an anomaly for Barclay. He was coming off of ACL surgery in 2014 and maybe he was struggling in his recovery. Just in comparing film from the previous seasons, Barclay didn’t seem to have the flexibility or speed that he had before the surgery. This was evident in that loss to Arizona, as his repaired right knee couldn’t get a good enough push off that post leg in his pass protection and that left him giving up four hurries on top of the four sacks.

Second is his flexibility along the offensive line. Barclay has been successful, in small doses, when filling in at both guard and right tackle positions. Having a player like that is extremely valuable as you can get consistency and better chemistry with playing as few guys as possible. It also helps to have a player who has been in the system for the past four years and won’t have the growing pains bringing in a new player who needs to learn the playbook and line calls and must build a rapport with his new teammates.

Third is depth. Outside of the starting five, the Packers only have JC Tretter, Lane Taylor and Josh Walker with NFL game experience. They have Matt Rotherham, Vince Kowalski, and Jeremy Vujnovich on the roster from the practice squad but none of them have ever played a snap in a NFL game. Keeping Barclay around gives them an insurance policy and another body to plug in with some experience behind the starters if there was an injury to happen.

Like I said earlier in the article, I cringed when I saw that Barclay was on his way back to Green Bay. Writing these justifications as to why he may have been brought back didn’t ease my response to the re-signing, but I can understand why it was done from a business perspective. Let’s hope that Barclay has fully recovered from his ACL tear and shows his form is back to what it was prior to the injury.

If not, remember that just because he has been re-signed, that does not mean he will make the team. One or more of the practice squad players could have made great strides since last year, the Packers may draft one or more offensive lineman or there could be rookie free agents signed (like Barclay was) to give him competition and win the spot. It will be an interesting position to watch as the offseason workouts begin today.