Green Bay Packers: Lucas Patrick a Possible “Surprise” Cut Candidate

Green Bay Packers' offensive guard Lucas Patrick (62) during training camp Monday, August 19, 2019, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packers Training Camp 081919 Jc0164
Green Bay Packers' offensive guard Lucas Patrick (62) during training camp Monday, August 19, 2019, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packers Training Camp 081919 Jc0164 /

Every year and for every team, there are typically veteran cuts that take place around the NFL as teams trim their rosters to the final 53. And the Green Bay Packers are no different.

I recently highlighted a few names that could fall into that category this summer, whether it be due to performance — or a lack thereof — or because it’s a move that creates some much-needed cap relief for the Packers. Those three players mentioned were Devin Funchess, Josh Jackson, and Oren Burks—not exactly surprises as I assume those three are on the radars of many.

light. Related Story. 3 Veteran Cut Candidates Who Create Needed Cap Space

However, one name that I do want to add to that watch list is someone who might be a less obvious cut candidate to the masses, and that’s Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Lucas Patrick.

By several metrics, this Green Bay Packers offensive line was the best in football last season. Whether looking at sacks allowed, pressures given up, or ESPN’s run-blocking and pass-blocking win rate metrics, Green Bay was first or at least very close. And they did that while battling several injuries along the way.

When discussing the Packers’ offensive line, it’s easy to forget about Patrick, but he, like everyone else, put together a very nice season. According to PFF ($$), and including the playoffs, Patrick allowed just three sacks in 650 pass-blocking snaps, with two of them coming in Week 15 against Carolina, which admittedly was a down game for him.

He would allow 21 total pressures and ranked 12th among 86 eligible guards in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency rating—which measures pressures allowed on a per snap basis with a heavier weighting towards sacks. By ESPN’s pass-blocking win rate metric, Patrick was sixth among all guards, and his final run-blocking grade from PFF ranked 31st out of 86 guards once again.

As I said, he seemed to fly under the radar, but Patrick put together an overall solid season. He also has that positional flexibility that the Packers covet along the offensive line, being able to play both guard positions as well as center.

So considering how important a strong offensive line unit is — I mean, just look at the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl — and how well Patrick performed in 2020, why would the Green Bay Packers cut him?

Well, there are a few reasons. For starters, Green Bay has plenty of options to replace him with. That doesn’t necessarily mean all of them are better than Patrick, but they certainly have options.

While there is concern around the tackle depth on this team, the Packers have a litany of players who can play inside. When David Bakhtiari is back, either Elgton Jenkins or Billy Turner is going to be at one of the guard spots. Jon Runyan Jr. showed a lot of promise in his limited playing time, and although rookies Cole Van Lanen and Royce Newman are listed as tackles, both may be better suited at the NFL level to play inside.

On top of that, many expect Josh Myers to be the team’s starting center Week 1, 2020 sixth-round pick Simon Stepaniak should be fully healthy this season, and the added wrinkle in all of this is that Ben Braden could very well earn one of those starting spots or possibly at the very least, come off the bench when needed.

As I wrote yesterday, Braden has not been mentioned at all when it comes to the offensive line competition this summer. However, when meeting with reporters on Thursday, offensive line coach Adam Stenavich said that he is “excited” about Braden and that he believes he will compete for a starting job at either guard or tackle.

Related Story. Ben Braden Competing for Starting Time this Summer. light

Before this news, I still thought that Patrick was a cut candidate, once again, just given the sheer number of options that the Packers have inside. But if Braden can live up to those expectations that Stenavich has set for him, then I believe moving on from Patrick is much more in play for Green Bay.

Cutting Patrick would leave Green Bay with Braden, Jenkins, Myers, Turner, Newman, Runyan, and Van Lanen as likely final roster candidates, along with Stepaniak potentially, and all have the ability to play inside.

The other caveat that we need to discuss is the salary cap, which could factor into the decision. As we all know, the Green Bay Packers have been tight up against the cap all offseason, and even with all the moves they’ve made, there are still more to come in an effort to create additional cap space so that they can sign the practice squad as well as have funds left over for any in-season spending.

Prior to the draft, GM Brian Gutekunst told us that there would be four or five contracts they’d address in the coming months. Since those comments were made, we’ve seen Green Bay restructure Dean Lowry’s deal and creatively put together Robert Tonyan’s. But again, more cap-saving moves are required.

This is the final year of Patrick’s deal, and with that comes $1.975 million in cap savings if Green Bay does move on from him, according to Over the Cap. Now, that’s not a huge amount by any means, but for a Packers team that is nickel and diming their way through the offseason here, this is one of those instances where every little bit helps.

As I’ve laid out, this is a move that I could certainly see taking place for the two big reasons already mentioned: options along the interior and cap savings. But there are still real concerns if Patrick is released.

The first is that they are losing a relatively inexpensive player who was a key contributor a year ago and will be relying on several highly inexperienced players — Myers, Newman, Van Lanen, Braden, and Runyan — to fill in for him. Not to mention that as we saw in 2020, offensive line depth is incredibly valuable, and without that versatile depth, this Packers offensive line — and consequently the offense as a whole — wouldn’t have been nearly as effective as they were last season in the midst of all those injuries.

The other key component to all of this is Josh Myers and the center position. The Green Bay Packers better be absolutely certain that he can be their guy as a rookie. If he struggles, or if he is injured, that leaves them with very few options.

Now, sure, Jenkins can be a very good center, but ideally, I don’t believe that the Packers want to play him there if they don’t have to. Truthfully, I believe they see him as their right tackle of the future and would rather have him there or at guard.

When it comes to Jake Hanson, I just don’t see him as a legitimate starting candidate at this stage of his career. That’s a big leap going from a practice squad player, who also missed quite a bit of practice time last year on IR, to a starting center.

Next. June 8th Marks Next Important Date for Rodgers & Packers. dark

As you can tell, there are a lot of moving parts that come with this decision, but the true litmus test won’t take place until training camp and the preseason, when all of these players take the field. Ultimately, performance reigns supreme and will dictate these decisions. With that said, veteran cuts are a popular topic this time of the year, and Lucas Patrick should be in the conversation among Packer fans.