Josh Sitton, the Packers starting right guard, agreed to a new long-term contract extension on Friday just before he was about to enter the final year of the rookie deal he signed as a fourth-round draft pick in 2008.
He didn't want contract talks to become a distraction as he tries to help the Packers get back to another Super Bowl, and now they won't be.
"It's a big weight off my shoulders," said Sitton, whose agent began negotiations with the Packers around the start of training camp. "That was what we said from the beginning, that we wanted to get it done before the season. That way I didn't have to deal with it and I could just focus on playing football. That's what I do. I'm a football player."
Sitton has started every game for the Packers over the last two years, not missing a snap over the course of 37 straight games, including postseason play.
Earlier in training camp, Aaron Rodgers said publicly he felt Sitton was snubbed in Pro-Bowl voting a year ago, noting he puts something outstanding on film every day. Sitton appreciated the kind words from his quarterback and simply wants to keep getting better.
"I feel pretty entrenched at this right guard position, so I feel I can work on myself, work on the details and really try to improve the little things, the footwork, the hand placement," Sitton said. "If you keep working on those little things, you become a better player, and I'm trying to become one of the best to play the game."
Had Sitton played out the final year of his rookie deal, he would have had a chance to test free agency heading into 2012. His preference all along was to remain in Green Bay, though, and exploring free agency was never a priority.
"This is where I wanted to end up," he said. "It's a first-class organization. I love the way things are done here."
He loves where his career is quietly headed, too.
"It's kind of surreal, thinking three and a half years ago sitting in college and not even knowing if I would get drafted or not," he said. "I've always been an underrated type of player. That's kind of my M.O. and I like it that way. It's been a crazy ride for a few years and I'm excited to keep it going."