Packers taking a look at veteran center Justin Britt
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are working out veteran center Justin Britt, nine months after he tore his ACL and four months after the Seattle Seahawks released him for salary-cap reasons.
Britt, the Seahawks’ starting center the past four seasons, is an intriguing prospect for the Packers, who do not have a true backup center on their roster and would have to rely on guards Lucas Patrick or Elgton Jenkins to get them through if something happened to starter Corey Linsley.
The Packers cut rookie center Jake Hanson, who took most of the snaps with the No. 2s in training camp, although Hanson was signed to the practice squad.
Britt, a source said, is healthy and ready to practice after rehabbing his knee. He recently visited the Seahawks and was cleared medically.
The Seahawks made an offer, but Britt decided to explore all his options and will meet with the Packers once he goes through the three-day COVID-19 testing protocol required of all in-coming players.
General manager Brian Gutekunst said Sunday that he would be bringing in players for tryouts to update his emergency list, so it’s possible he’s checking on the condition of Britt’s knee in case he is needed at a later date.
It’s unlikely Britt could help the Packers right away, specifically as a backup in Week 1. If the Packers must use either Jenkins or guard Lane Taylor at right tackle in place of ailing Billy Turner (knee), they would be in a pickle if something were to happen to Linsley.
Patrick could move over from left guard to center, but that would leave rookie Jon Runyan as the likely replacement at guard. Runyan hasn’t played an NFL snap of any kind.
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Britt hasn’t practiced since October and would need several weeks to get into football condition. So, if he were signed, he probably wouldn’t be able to help mitigate the Turner injury.
The 6-5, 315-pound Britt was a constant on the Seahawks’ offensive line, starting in 86 of the 87 games he played. He played right tackle in 2014, moved to left guard in ‘15 and then played center the last four seasons.
He tore his left ACL in Week 8 against Atlanta last year and missed the rest of the season. Before that injury, he had only missed two starts in five seasons.
Britt, 29, could be a fall back option if Linsley leaves in free agency next season. He’s still young enough to be a long-term starter and would be a good mentor next year for Hanson and current PUP-list lineman Simon Stepaniak.
Money will be a factor in where Britt signs. He would have been in the final year of a three-year, $27 million contract extension he signed in 2017, which put him in the upper echelon of pay among centers. He was scheduled to make $8.5 million this year.
The Packers still need to sign several of their starters to contract extensions before the year is out, so they may not be able to offer Britt what he’s seeking.