NFL free agency is two weeks away, and the only thing we are hearing from the Bryan Bulaga camp is crickets. A sad reality is approaching that won’t include Bulaga, the long-time right tackle and shield of Green Bay Packers’ most coveted quarterback, doing what he does best in protecting Aaron Rodgers.
We were not provided any updates on the status of negotiations at last week’s NFL Scouting Combine. Instead, all we learned were rumors of a possible extension for running back Aaron Jones who is still under contract for another year. While Jones did have a breakout season in 2019 in which he totaled 19 touchdowns, you would think the team would prioritize Bulaga.
What’s working against Bulaga is that he will turn 31 in March, but age can be less of a factor for offensive linemen. He also struggled to stay healthy after the Packers handed him his second contract in 2015. Since that signing, he has missed 17 games. Perhaps the team has some deja vu. However, when healthy and available, he always played at a high level.
Bulaga was healthy and at his best at the right time last season. He started every game, allowing just 3.5 sacks in 893 snaps.
“Of course we’d love to have a guy like Bryan Bulaga back, but we’re still getting through all that and seeing how these things are going to work,” said GM Brian Gutekunst back in January.
Gutekunst’s words weren’t encouraging then, and they are even less encouraging now, months later with essentially no update. If anything, all of the information we have point toward Green Bay moving on. At the combine, the team did their due diligence speaking with some of the top tackle prospects in the 2020 class.
The Packers hold the 30th overall pick, which could be prime territory to snag a potential Bulaga replacement. They could also go the free-agent route, but that may require overpaying someone or settling for an inferior player.
There is still hope, at least for the next two weeks, that an agreement could be reached. If not, Bulaga will be free to sign where ever.
The Packers can ill afford to enter the 2020 season without the right tackle spot safely secured. Signing Bulaga gives them one less thing to worry about and opens up possibilities to add more weapons to the offense early on through the draft. Without Bulaga under contract, everything becomes more complicated.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.