Another experienced NFL assistant will be joining Matt LaFleur’s next coaching staff, but not for the position that has sat vacant for more than a month.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Green Bay Packers are hiring Butch Barry as a senior offensive assistant for the 2020 season after previously spending four seasons as an assistant offensive line coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Barry led the offensive line at the University of Miami last year but was replaced after the Hurricanes hired a new offensive coordinator in January. He also spent five years working with offensive linemen and tight ends at Central Michigan.
The Packers are still looking to hire a new wide receivers coach after Alvis Whitted was fired shortly after the conclusion of the postseason. LaFleur said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine the team was “working through that process right now,” but the Packers have not specified whether they intend to hire an outside name or promote from within.
“I think it’s more about fit,” LaFleur said about his criteria for a new wideouts coach. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have a lot of experience, and it’s about trying to find the right fit, not only for our staff but for our players and for them to go out and perform at their best.
The Packers adding an assistant with offensive line experience allows them to put an emphasis on a position that could be undergoing some major changes between now and the 2021 season. Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is set to hit the open market in less than two weeks with no signs of a new deal coming, while left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley are both scheduled to become free agents next offseason.
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How Will Packers Address Offensive Line for 2020?
There are some important decisions for the Packers to make within the next year regarding their three major free-agent offensive linemen. To say they have an immediate need at the position wouldn’t be the best way to characterize it, but the ball will start rolling on March 18 when free agency begins.
The Packers could quick-solve the problem with a new contract for Bulaga. It would keep the starting core of their offensive line together for Year 2 of LaFleur’s coaching regime, giving them another year to develop backup Lucas Patrick and whatever other young talent they might acquire through next month’s NFL Draft.
Bulaga’s new deal wouldn’t be inexpensive, but it is feasible depending on how the Packers navigate other needs at inside linebacker or wide receiver. Then again, bringing back a 30-year-old offensive tackle who has only twice started all 16 games in a season does present its own challenges.
Another plausible scenario? The Packers could invest in a short-term options for free agency and then draft one or two offensive linemen early in the upcoming draft, developing them throughout the 2020 season with intentions of them stepping into bigger roles the following year. Even if it’s just one standout in the first five rounds, the Packers’ now-larger support staff would lend itself that process.
The plan should start to reveal itself in the next few weeks as free agency gets underway.