Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Should The Packers Bring Bryan Bulaga Back in 2015?

I didn't expect there would be much of a free agent market for RT Bryan Bulaga this offseason because of his recent history of season ending injuries, but when I looked at the weak free agent market for offensive tackles, I've reconsidered. There's almost no chance he'll be back next season.
I'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.

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.

No comments: