The Green Bay Packers have officially solidified a versatile piece of their offensive line for the next two seasons.
General manager Brian Gutekunst announced Saturday the Packers have signed backup guard and center Lucas Patrick to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2021. The deal — which The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman reports is worth $3.6 million — marks a significant pay bump for the interior lineman after playing the 2019 season on a one-year, $645,000 contract.
While the move is a smart, affordable choice for the Packers, it also offers some validation to the former undrafted free agent who earned his first NFL opportunity with the Packers in their 2016 rookie minicamp. He has made six starts over 39 games in the three seasons since and saw the majority of his 69 offensive snaps this year during Week 5’s win over Dallas as a fill-in for center Corey Linsley.
The Packers now have the interior of their offensive line locked down for the future with Linsley and starting guards Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner all signed beyond this season, but there are still a few more decisions for them to make in the upcoming free-agency period for 2020.
Follow the Heavy on Packers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Packers Have Several Tackles Set to Become Free Agents
Signing Patrick to an extension is an important move, but not as important as some of the others the Packers will have to make in the upcoming free-agency period.
Among the biggest: Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
A nine-year veteran, Bulaga is playing the final few games of his five-year, $33.75 million contract and will become an unrestricted free agent for 2020. He has started all 15 games this season despite dislocating his finger in October and partially tearing the MCL in his right knee in November, which has him on track to make all 16 starts for only the second time in his career when he starts Sunday at the Detroit Lions.
“He’s been absolutely critical,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said prior to last week’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “First of all, I think he’s playing at a really high level. And, he’s been instrumental. It’s always important, especially when you talk about the offensive line, the cohesiveness in that group. If you can get all 16 games with the same starting five, that’s huge. That didn’t happen for us, but for the most part, we’ve been healthy up front.”
Bulaga could fetch a high price on the market, but nothing he has said or done suggests he isn’t looking to stay with the Packers beyond 2019 — especially with a chance for them to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs. The Packers are not playing with a ton of money for 2020, but Bulaga could be willing to reach a compromise with the only team he has ever known.
The other two pending free agents on the offensive line — veteran Jared Veldheer and IR-designated Jason Spriggs — have much less experience within the system, but Veldheer could potentially earn himself another year if he shines as a rotational piece in the postseason. He was retired for much of 2019 before deciding to make a comeback and has been steady enough thus far for Green Bay, but his intentions beyond this year remain undeclared.