New from JS:Packers faced with choices as Bryan Bulaga nears free agency http://t.co/Mvn9d8EeKWI'd like to see him return next season because he's much better than their current in-house alternatives (JC Tretter and Don Barclay). Tretter wasn't given much of a chance at tackle after he lost his starting center job to Corey Lindsey but he didn't look great during in a few late season snaps and he gave up a big sack to Mario Williams against the Bills. Barclay was solid in 2013 but he's coming off an ACL injury. Bringing Bulaga back is clearly the best choice, however there are a couple reasons why that's not going to happen.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) January 28, 2015
They're already paying big bucks to Josh Sitton and TJ Lang. As it currently stands, according to Over The Cap, Sitton and Lang carry the 5th and 6th largest cap charges on the team. The Packers can't afford to tie up all their salary cap room at one position (offensive line), and neither Sitton or Lang should be considered for release since they're both arguably better than Bulaga.
He's not their biggest priority in free agency anyway. Cobb and Tramon Williams are more important, but that's a topic for a later post.
The free agent market for tackles stinks. I mentioned this earlier, but Bulaga is at the top of Walter Football's list of free agent tackles. He's proved that he's healthy now and he's been a good to great player during every season (when healthy) after his forgettable rookie campaign. All the other top players listed have been inconsistent (Free, Dunlap) or are coming off a major injury (Roos). Any team that's making left or right tackle a priority should be camping out on his doorstep the moment free agency begins.
GM Ted Thompson has been known to let his offensive lineman walk. After their Super Bowl win in 2011, it wasn't a big surprise when he let Daryn Colledge leave in free agency, but it was a bigger upset when Scott Wells left the following year. Then Evan Dietrich-Smith was allowed to leave last offseason. Though it is different because those three players are interior lineman while Thompson was quick to re-sign LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher up until the moment they both decided to retire.
It'll be sad if he leaves, but successful teams can't afford to bring back every player. Maybe I'm wrong about this and both Bulaga and the Packers can find common ground, but I'm mentally planning for the worst.