Offensive linemen weren’t too happy with James Jones late last November. Green Bay was just bloodied, 38-10, by the New York Giants. Offensive rhythm was suffocated. Aaron Rodgers, sacked five times.

So the wide receiver spoke his mind.

“Guys are open,” Jones said then. “It’s just a fact of us protecting Aaron, keeping him in the pocket. …When you’re running for your life dang near the whole game and trying to make a play, it doesn’t matter who you are.”

Privately, offensive linemen bristled. That’s fine. But Jones was right.

The protection needed to improve then. And it’ll need to improve now. Green Bay is on the verge of giving Rodgers a historic contract. The future of the franchise — and about one-sixth of the team’s salary — will be in his hands. San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle and Minnesota all renovated their rosters this off-season, yet the Packers still possess the one weapon they all lack.

Rodgers. Without him, they’re toast.

As soon as ink meets paper, the heat is on. Through five seasons as the starter, Rodgers has been sacked 215 times. Whether it's the NFL Draft or more competition in training camp, the Packers should explore everything.

Ideally, Green Bay would love for solutions to come from within. At guard, the Packers should be set with T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. At tackle, it’s more complicated. General manager Ted Thompson tried to prepare Green Bay for this all by drafting tackles in the first round of back-to-back drafts.

But 16 months after Derek Sherrod’s gruesome broken leg, his status remains cloudy. Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t sound optimistic last month. One option is to move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle and leave Don Barclay at right tackle. Maybe the Packers do draft another tackle in the early rounds.

Either way, there’ll be more pressure on Marshall Newhouse. For what he is — a 169th overall pick from Texas Christian — Newhouse has exceeded expectations. In 2012, that wasn’t good enough. Per Journal Sentinel statistics, he allowed 42 ½ pressures.

“Is he an ideal starting tackle? No, he’s not ideal,” one NFC scout said. “You have to do things in your protection scheme to give him help at times. Not every snap. You’re not going to want to leave him alone every snap. You really haven’t had anybody to push him. If you had somebody outside, he could be a swing guy.

“If it was an ideal world, you’d have a good left tackle with Bulaga on the right side, your two guards and (Evan) Dietrich-Smith at center. The Newhouse can back up both spots — both guards, both tackles.”