GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers released three-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton on Saturday, making an unexpected change on their offensive line.
The 30-year-old Sitton had started 112 of 121 regular-season games since being drafted in the fourth round in 2008 out of Central Florida. He was one of the leaders on a front five that protects quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers’ other notable cuts Saturday to get to the 53-man limit for the start of the season included former starting linebacker Sam Barrington and wide receiver Geronimo Allison, an undrafted free agent who drew praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers during training camp.
Sitton played through injuries, including a torn ligament in his left big toe in 2014. But the Packers have financial decisions to make up front, with the contracts of left tackle David Bakhtiari and left guard T.J. Lang expiring after this season.
Sitton was entering the last year of a five-year, $33.75 million extension signed after the 2011 season. He was due to count $6.85 million against the cap this year.
“We want to thank Josh for his contributions during his time in Green Bay. He has been an important part of the success we have enjoyed on the field,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “While these decisions are never easy, this was done with a focus on what is best for the team and the growth of the offensive line.”
The Packers drafted two linemen this year, Jason Spriggs out of Indiana in the second round and Kyle Murphy in the sixth round out of Stanford.
JC Tretter has taken over at center with two-year starter Corey Linsley out with a hamstring injury.
The Packers placed Linsley on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, which will keep him from practicing and playing for at least the first six weeks of the season.
“Well, expectation of the offensive line, I think we clearly could have one of the best lines that we’ve had here,” coach Mike McCarthy said recently. “I think I’ve said that the last two years and frankly health is always important.”
Another veteran Packer, punter Tim Masthay, was released on Tuesday after the team claimed Jacob Schum off waivers from Tampa Bay. Masthay had been with Green Bay for six seasons.
The Packers also are without a long snapper after they released Rick Lovato, a first-year player who joined the team near the end of last season.
By letting go of Barrington, a fourth-year pro who started eight games in his career but missed most of last season with a foot injury, the Packers could be counting on a youthful tandem of Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez as their starting inside linebackers.
Green Bay selected Martinez in the fourth round of this year’s draft out of Stanford.
Green Bay cut 17 players Saturday, including Brandon Ross, which leaves undrafted rookie Brandon Burks as the third running back behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
The Packers placed a pair of undrafted free agents, defensive tackle Tyler Kuder and center Kyle Steuck, on injured reserve.
Green Bay also moved defensive tackle Mike Pennel and cornerback Demetri Goodson to the reserve/suspended list. Both players will miss the first four games for violations of the NFL’s drug policy.
This version corrects the number of players cut to 17 instead of 16.