The final facet of the 2019 recap series for the offensive side of the ball for the Green Bay Packers is their offensive line unit, which withstood weekly onslaughts from some of the best defensive fronts in the league. From left to right, David Bakhtiari (LT), rookie Elgton Jenkins (LG), Corey Linsley (C), offseason acquisition Billy Turner (LG), and long-time Packer Bryan Bulaga (RT) manned the five spots up front for Green Bay, with swingman Alex Light, veteran right tackle Jared Veldheer, and interior lineman Lucas Patrick coming off of the bench for snaps when needed.
The starting unit was very stout this season, only allowing Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 36 times, his lowest total since 2017, and helped keep Rodgers healthy and able to play in all 16 regular-season contests and 2 postseason games in 2019. Having thrown for his highest touchdown mark (26) since 2016, Rodgers was able to make better use of his time in the pocket, leading to more of an efficient usage of the ball at times.
Bulaga’s New Deal?
After having spent the entirety of his 10-year professional career in Green Bay, the former Iowa Hawkeye is once again a free agent on the lookout for what looks to be the final chance at a big-money deal. Injuries have beset the 23rd-overall selection in 2010 at times during his career, but overall Bulaga’s time in Green Bay has warranted them sticking with him.
Currently 30 years old, Bulaga’s deal is looking to rival that of some of the higher-paid tackles in the league, most likely equaling out to average more than what Mitchell Schwartz received from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.
A projected deal by Spotrac sets the annual contract amount for Bulaga at $10.1 million per season, which would make him the league’s fourth-highest paid RT. While paying over $10 million for three years (3/$30.4M) is a large chunk of money for a team that is needing to tread carefully with its salary sheet this offseason, Bulaga has become that lockdown resource that the team can count on shutting down opposing rushers on a nightly basis.
Bulaga is right up there with Jack Conklin, Anthony Costanzo, and Joe Thuney in terms of the cream of the crop of offensive linemen free agents this offseason, and there should be no shortage of suitors looking to bring him in. While GB may need to overpay to bring him back for another contract, he has more than proven his worth while wearing the green and gold uniform.
Starting in the first round, the amount of linemen prospects that are ripe for the picking in this year’s draft are quite high, led by Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Jedrick Wills (Alabama), and Mekhi Becton (Louisville). Of these three prospects, if GB were to want to draft a new offensive lineman high, Becton would be the most likely prospect to drop down the board, compared to all of the mock drafts and player reviews.
Free agency could produce some real personnel movement across the league, and Green Bay could choose to go a different way in upgrading their offensive line. Right tackle is the lone spot in which a starter is up for a new contract, and GB could decide to go out and sign Costanzo or Conklin, if they choose to go outside.
With general manager Brian Gutekunst publicly describing the team’s current cap as a major focus topic this offseason, fans should not expect to have as colorful of an offseason as the team did last year. While that speaks mostly to the current roster complexion, it also speaks to how last offseason’s player additions pushed the team’s cap to a level not commonly seen under management – competitive.
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