NFC North Notes: Bakhtiari, Lang, Bears, Vikes

David Bakhtiari is one of three Packers starting offensive lineman who will hit free agency next spring, and the fourth-year left tackle isn’t denying that he’s thought about the prospect of the open market. “We’ve got a lot of guys up, and if I’m gambling, I’m going to bet that not all of us come back,” Bakhtiari told Jason Wilde of “But that’s something you don’t want to think about and that shouldn’t be our topic of conversation. Do I know what has happened [with other left tackles]? Yes. I’m not living under a rock. But [I’m not] coming in every day with a notebook researching finances and wondering what I’m going to do.”

The Packers selected Indiana left tackle Jason Spriggs in the second round of this year’s draft, so the club has a fallback plan if Bakhtiari finds a better offer in free agency. Given the recent extensions handed out to Trent Williams, Terron Armstead, and Cordy Glenn, Bakhtiari could be in line for a multi-year deal with an average salary of more than $11MM.

Here’s more from the NFC North, including another item on the green Bay offensive line…

  • Like Bakhtiari, Packers right guard T.J. Lang is both entering the final year of his contract and dealing with the after-effects of a physical ailment, as the 29-year-old underwent shoulder surgery in February. As Lang details to Wilde, however, he expects to be ready for the start of training camp in late July. “Especially going into a contract year, you want to be as healthy as possible,” said Lang, who is set to earn $6.85MM in the last year of his four-year, ~$21MM extension.
  • The Bears are in the midst of a major transition, and only 21 players on the current roster predate the arrival of GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox, who were hired in January 2015. Rich Campbell of The Chicago Tribune looks at six players who must elevate their performance in the second year of the Pace/Fox era, including safety Adrian Amos, last year’s fifth-round pick who will be asked to play in the box more often than he did in his rookie campaign to take advantage of his tackling ability while masking his weaknesses in coverage.
  • Vikings tackle T.J. Clemmings, who started all 16 games in 2015 at right tackle in place of the injured Phil Loadholt, is being asked to shift back to left tackle now that Loadholt and Andre Smith appear poised to battle for his old spot, and as such, Clemmings is now behind Matt Kalil on the depth chart and no longer has a starting role. But the second-year player is trying to stay positive, saying, “I’m just trying to become better, that’s the plan.” As for the move to left tackle, Clemmings said, “Adjusting (at first) is kind of tough, but I have a good amount of weeks to get a feel for it” (Twitter links via Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press).

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

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