Commonly used as a whipping post for Green Bay Packer fans ever since he was drafted in 2010, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga has been putting together one of his best career seasons for the Packers. While it also happens to be in a contract year (coincidentally or not), his impact on this team’s success this season and the nine prior seasons cannot be understated.
While injuries have followed the former Iowa Hawkeye throughout his entire career, he has become a much-needed stalwart on the right side of the line, combining with superstar left tackle David Bakhtiari to form one of the better bookend tandems across the league.
Given a 74.9 player grade by Pro Football Focus through the first six games of the season for Green Bay, he has yet to allow a sack, has had only two penalties called against him and has played 286 snaps, real impressive numbers especially after looking at what rushes he has had matched up across from him.
The likes of Everson Griffin, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, Brandon Graham and Demarcus Lawrence have all lined up on the defensive line opposite Bulaga at times, and with him having kept Rodgers’ jersey clean in 2019, he has more than proven that he deserves a new contract.
Bulaga and defensive tackle Kenny Clark represent the two biggest deals that need to be done at some point this season by general manager Brian Gutekunst and the front office, so starting now would be a great way to shore up the team for 2020 and beyond.
With the upcoming draft not completely looking like it is going to provide any generational offensive linemen prospects, Green Bay’s best bet would be to resign Bulaga to a long-term deal that would keep him in Titletown potentially for the remainder of his career.
Currently, Bulaga’s deal puts him as the 10th-highest-paid right tackle in the NFL at $6.75 million this season, a great deal for the team but a gross underpayment for his on-field performance. Players like Ja’Wuan James of the Denver Broncos and Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles either just signed (James) or are halfway through (Johnson) a recently-signed long term deal, which helps give the team some benchmarks for how Bulaga should be paid.
Never wanting to set the team back too far by breaking the bank, a four-year deal with a base max value of $42 million would be a fair ask by Bulaga, which the team should feel comfortable with agreeing to. Front loading a deal for the first two seasons to average $10+ million across the first two seasons with an out after the second year would be a huge win for the front office.
Long-term financial stability for Bulaga, who plays a position that is very rewarding but also takes a major toll on one’s body, is key for what he is looking for. Having played for Green Bay his entire career, keeping Bulaga on the right side of the offensive line for the next four-plus seasons would be a huge move to help keep this team together and keep its best pieces happy.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23