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Is Bryan Bulaga's Time in Green Bay Coming to an End?

With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, the player acquisition phase of the 2018 NFL offseason is fast approaching. The draft and free agency get the most headlines, but teams across the league also face tough decisions regarding players already on their roster. For the Packers one of those players in veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Unlike some other veterans on the roster—Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, for example—Bulaga’s status isn’t based on perceived declining performance, but how much the team can count on him to be available going forward. Bulaga missed the entire 2013 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee, and appeared in just five games in 2017 before tearing the other one. He also missed seven games in 2012 with a hip injury.

In total, Bulaga has missed 43 regular season games over his eight seasons as a pro. His most recent knee injury will likely keep him off the field until late in the Packers’ offseason program, and he’ll be playing on two repaired ACLs when that time comes.

It’s not hard to see why the Packers would want to do all they can to keep Bulaga around. He’s been a top-tier right tackle throughout his career when healthy, and the team doesn’t exactly have a wealth of talent behind him.

Between Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs and Justin McCray, Green Bay tried just about everything in Bulaga’s absence in 2017. McCray will likely slot in as a guard for next season, especially if Jahri Evans decides to hang it up. Spriggs, a second-round draft pick meant to bolster the position, hasn’t nearly lived up to the potential the Packers apparently saw in him. Murphy was lost for the season with a foot injury back in September, though he probably looked the best at the position, if one was forced to choose.

Because of all that, Green Bay might be hesitant to move on from a veteran tackle who has proven his talent on the field, even if he comes with an elevated risk of injury. Regardless, it seems likely the team will look to bolster, if not significantly improve, the position during the offseason, probably in the draft.

The Packers aren’t likely to rely on an inexperienced player on the offensive line, given the importance of Aaron Rodgers staying healthy. For now, that makes Bulaga, injury concerns and all, the best option on the roster. If Brian Gutekunst can find a veteran at the right price, though, it’s hard to see him not pulling the trigger. And if that’s the case, Bulaga’s days in Green Bay could be coming to a close.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Censored's picture

Cutting Cobb, Nelson, Matthew, and Bulaga would only collect 8.8m in dead money and gaining 35.8m in cap. us having 62m in cap space would allow us to go after quite a bit of talent.

dobber's picture

Need to be judicious in cuts as every player that goes needs to be replaced. Sure, you make a bunch of cap room back, but you'll likely spend every dollar you make on the cap over dead money (and then some) trying to replace those players. Do you come out ahead? I would argue none of those players you mention have an obvious replacement on the roster right now (no, I don't think Monty steps directly into Cobb's role). If you truly believe you're going to do better signing guys off the open market, then go for it...but you'd better be sure.

Bearmeat's picture

RE: Monty - Why not? What has Cobb been above average at in the past 2 years other than scramble drill? Why could Monty not do that? I think he'd be an excellent fill in at slot WR2 in 10 personnel.

Adams - Boundary 1
FA WR - Speed/Boundary 2
Jordy - (with lower pay) Slot 1
Ty - Slot 2

Looks a heckova lot better to me than what we've had since 2015.

dobber's picture

My rationale is that there are only so many slot snaps to go around, and if Nelson is taking up the majority of them on a team that uses 11 personnel as the default, it means that your replacement has to play on the outside and not in the slot.

I'm also arguing that Monty will be at his best on somewhat limited snaps and playing a variety of roles, especially out of the backfield. If you see that as being a "slot 2" guy, then maybe we are somewhat saying the same thing. But I don't see Monty as being the third WR in 11 personnel groupings.

Bearmeat's picture

I'm not saying he would be the 3rd WR in 11 groupings. I think he'd be the 4th WR (2nd guy in the slot) in 10 personnel. He could be pretty above average at that IMO....Which, let's be honest, if we get a decent speed option at WR in free agency, that's what Cobb would become anyway - except being paid 11 mil....

RCPackerFan's picture

"What has Cobb been above average at in the past 2 years other than scramble drill? "

What has made Rodgers one of the best QB's in the history of the league is his ability to extend plays. Like in Basketball when the offense shoots, misses but gets the rebound they get a 2nd chance. When the play breaks down and the initial reads aren't there he is one of if not the best at 2nd chances.
That is where players like Cobb/Nelson become so valuable. They are in sync with Rodgers that they know where to go and how to get open for Rodgers.

So many people talk about wanting to get rid of Cobb and/or Nelson. Lets not forget how good each of these guys are when they are with Rodgers.

Yes they need more speed at WR. But lets not lose focus on the intangibles that they do bring, that is going to be very tough to replace. Which is knowing exactly where to go when Rodgers wants them to go there.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah, Cobb is really good at the scramble drill. But here's the thing - is he 11 million AAV good at it? I don't think so. I think his production could be almost equaled by Monty (who costs FAR less let's remember), and his impact on the offense could be clearly bested by even a comparable speed threat outside.

Tundraboy's picture

That line up with Cobb would work for me. Particularly getting a fast WR in FA, along with one in the draft. Maybe even Clarke to boot.

Razer's picture

I don't get why we need to generate a bunch of cap space. Getting rid of good players with proven track records and lots left in the tank for somebody different is, at best, a roll of the dice. The addition of new coaches and coordinators will tap into more productivity from all these guys.

RCPackerFan's picture

I completely agree.

Just because something is different doesn't mean its going to be better. Perfect example, was Bennett better then Cook? No. Was Brooks better then Peppers? No... Just a couple of examples.

Bearmeat's picture

In theory, yes. But it's also about the personnel. And frankly, GB has been SLOOOOW at WR after 2014, Bulaga has almost always been hurt, and they had no semblance of a pass rush this year. If you can't out-scheme your way to a win (which is very hard to do in a league full of smart people), you've got to just straight up impose your will or superior ability. That's not to say that coaching and scheme can't help or hurt, but IMO at the end of the day, IMO it boils down to beating your man.

For a variety of reasons, 4 extremely expensive veterans can no longer win their 1v1s. There is very little reason to believe this will change going forward, so they all have to take a pay cut, or be cut, and make room for better players who can produce.

Obviously these decisions aren't made in a vacuum either. If I'm CM3, I refuse a pay cut and dare GB to cut me. Maybe I don't have that leverage if I'm any of the offensive guys.

swampthing69's picture

The “proven track records” in question aren’t good. Matthews has done practically nothing since 2010. Cobb got paid after 2014 and promptly disappeared. Bulaga can’t stay on the field.

Yes, they have proven track records, and we are grossly overpaying for them.

fthisJack's picture

with the money we are paying Cobb, Nelson, Mathews, and Bulaga.....i would say we could get replacements that are as good as, if not better than, what we have now. what has been special about any of them the last few years that they are earning their big paychecks anyway?

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Finally somebody talking some sense here why don't you Packers fans listen to this guy get out of your dream world this team will never improve with you people fantasizing about how good your Green Bay Packers are when they're not good at all

billybobton's picture

Bulaga was a 'top tier' RT for about 9 games
otherwise he is just a guy at best
and last year when he was on the field he was not a guy, he was not good, he was bad

Finwiz's picture

BB is done. Backup at best, and should renegotiate if anything, but outright release wouldn't hurt.
Guy couldn't stay healthy last few years.

Razer's picture

The beauty of the Bryan Bulaga situation is that the Packers can allow him to rehab and get back to health using the PUP designation. If he can come back strong great, otherwise we'll have developed options for his replacement.

The mistake would be in NOT preparing to replace Bulaga. Are Spriggs and Murphy viable options at RT? If our experience with Hundley is any indication, there is no way to tell until the crap hits the fan. I tend to trust James Campen - Mike McCarthy - not so much.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I do get what you're saying, but I find no beauty in a guy with an $8M cap hit going on PUP. Still, if Bulaga can play the last 7 to 10 games and playoffs and regain most of his form, that would be a plus for GB.

I do think Bulaga is living on his reputation around here, like some undeserving pro bowlers who get in one more time based on past performance. He looked to me like an average or a tick or two above average starting RT in 2016, and less than that in 2017.

dobber's picture

Did he look like a below average RT in 2017 because he was playing next to Jahri Evans and not TJ Lang?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Not sure, but I would not have thought so. I did say he was an average to a bit above average starting RT, not below average. Overall I favor rolling the dice and keeping Bulaga for 2018. I hope he will be able to return some time during 2018 (even if he needs to go on the PUP and returns sometime between week 6 and 11) and in time for the playoffs at close to his previous level of play, or as good. Of course, the FO will have access to his medical information.

dobber's picture

You're right...my goof (on the average part).

carlos's picture

Razer, I was never impressed with Spriggs or Murphy.

Packer Fan's picture

The four guys Censored noted are the ones most likely to have their contract restructured or let go. The Packers need to increase their cap space. Who knows how this will go at this time. I do like restructuring better because you don't loose still valued veterans. You can bet if the Pack release those four, they will be playing for other teams next year. Perhaps at a lower price.

stockholder's picture

We just don't have better. Spriggs and Murphy may not make the jumps. Not to mention other Question marks. Can they make it back from an injury? I don't like the free agency option here either. Bulaga is getting slower. The speed rushers have burned him bad. But he won't make mistakes like the others. I say still keep him. He always has come back when people have given up on him before.

Big Moe's picture

I think we need to spend a second round pick at least, in order to protect ARod's blind side, and restructure BB, I just hate the thought of him going elsewhere and staying healthy, he's just got the right temperament, if only he can stay on the field.

Worztik's picture

“If only he can stay on the field” says it ALL!!!

Worztik's picture

Bahk protects AROD’s blind side unless he has 2...

Worztik's picture

Keep Nelson!!! A bit slower but, still our #1B at WR. Pay Bulaga at a backup rate as veteran insurance. I don’t know how much less Mathews and Cobb are willing to take but, if it’s not significant, let ‘em walk! How much is Burnett worth? Good question! I, obviously, don’t know what value the team has placed on Spriggs... I can’t believe it’s very much and IMHO, I felt that Murphy actually did a far better job for being a lot lower pick! Spriggs time is NOW or see ya... it’s been a thing!!! Without researching current contract values of our stellar back ups, I say let ‘Em walk! (I’m thinking mainly DBs here.). As some clever feller once said, “A million here and a million there and pretty soon we’re talking real money!!! We should be able to divest enough in dead weight to pay a good percentage of AROD’s 1st year of his new contract. I believe that there are good players out there in FA to replace our released players... maybe at a lower cost! All hypothetical, but, I like hypothetical... maybe not as much as Jackie D but, somewhat. Just sayin’....

stockholder's picture

I'm against pay cuts. 1. Mathews is needed. Lets say the packers do take Davenport at #14. You now have an edge /DE with Perry. Thats 4-3-4 if they want. If they go 5 front it still works with Mathews at OLB. Or he can move inside. No other LB can do what Mathews can! Nelson came back from a Knee injury . He'll come back From Hundley. Cobb is needed to go over the middle. No one else has the courage that Cobb has. He does not have the concussion risk yet. Had A-Rod not gotten hurt, his stats would have been a 1000 yards @ WR. Biegel will be playing more. The packers need depth at LB. And it should be addressed later in the draft. I agree with the mocks "somewhat" now. (Versatility) Davenport or another DB will be hard to pass up. But the packers could look like monkeys if they don't take an all-pro first.

Madfan's picture

Presume for discussion that the Packers wish to cut Bulaga before the "fiscal" season begins in March. They would save about $4.5 million in 2018 and about $6 million in 2019. This takes into account salary, bonuses and acceleration of the prorated signing bonus.

If the Packers can sign a very good, younger FA for $5 to $8 million a year, I'd say go for it. This FA would cost very little more than Bulaga for the next two years. And, still be there for a few more years. I doubt GB would give Bulaga a contract extension given his injury record.

However, if they can't find a very good, younger FA, I'd hold on to Bulaga long enough to see what else happens. He will only cost the Packers $250,000 in workout bonuses until the time when his salary becomes guaranteed for the season (I assume the week before the first game.

If I were Gutekunst, I'd want to use my first round pick for a player that has a chance to be a "difference maker". In general, I don't see a RT as a difference maker. I may wish to consider a RT in the second round, but there are so many other needs, such as WR, TE and maybe S. I'm not sure that I'd count on a third round RT to be ready to start his first year and I'd count even less on a 4th round RT.

So, in terms of making the best use of the "Bulaga"money, I'd suggest Gutekunst, give great consideration to a very good, younger RT during free agency. If he can find one, I'd go for it. Otherwise, I don't see Bulaga's replacement for 2018 on the roster or being drafted in rounds three through seven.

Tundraboy's picture

Exactly.

stockholder's picture

What? - Look what we didn't want to pay Lang. And your going to blow any future comp picks signing a new guy? Example Bennets signing blew away a 5th. There is no way MM gives up on Spriggs/Murphy. And then if your going in the free Agent market, why not give Barnett money so you don't have to draft a safety. GO AFTER THE TE FIRST! Cutting Bulaga? Not smart! Plenty of options in this draft at OL.

Worztik's picture

I heard a team can only receive 4 comp picks in a year...

stockholder's picture

YEP - But the formula includes others.

stockholder's picture

DP.

4thand1's picture

Just remember, Bahk wasn't that great at the start. The more he played the better he got. I think Spriggs will get the RT nod, hopefully he improves.

Point Packer's picture

Spriggs is a TT bust. You are out of your mind. Murphy has some potential. I would rather see Spriggs on the next train to the CFL (where he belongs) than GB's starting right tackle. You have to be joking. He has never been anything but awful since he came into the league. Bakh showed potential early and often. Spriggs, massive TT failure.

HankScorpio's picture

Guys develop at different rates, particularly among O-line. Mark Tauscher entered the league NFL ready. Others, like Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle, took considerably longer.

Maybe Spriggs is a bust. Maybe not. It's getting close to making that final determination but maybe not quite yet. There is no harm in carrying him through the offseason to take one more look in TC.

fthisJack's picture

i wouldn't give up on Spriggs, Murphy, or McCray yet. OL sometimes take years to develop. Lang certainly wasn't that good his few several years and he turned out ok. i would look for a mid round OL in the draft and eyeball what is there in FA also.

John Kirk's picture

I hope so. 43 games missed in 8 seasons? That's more than 5 games a season or about third of each season. It was a mistake extending him the last time.

Bulaga represented Ted Thompson more than any other player to me. We had a chance at Dez Bryant that draft. Ted went the safe route and the floor player. The safe vanilla choice. The one who couldn't change games. He should've been a G. I know PFF will be quoted back but the guy was brutal vs speed. That first half at Seattle Fail Mary was like playing Colledge and Lang vs Jared Allen in the old Metrodome. Irvin killed him.

Bulaga was never a dominating player just another solid unspectacular Ted guy. That era and type needs to be culled from the roster and it would be poetic to me to see Bulaga gone now that Ted is no longer our GM.

Fordham Ram's picture

We need to protect Rodgers at all cost, without him we're toast. He was one of the most sacked qb's in the league when he got hurt. Can't rely on Bulaga and on his 2 bum knees and where looking at Spriggs again if he goes down. I'm sure Gute's has something planned. If he went and drafted 8 offensive lineman I wouldn't squawk. Give Aaron a secure pocket with time to throw and where going places even if our defense stinks. Brady is as good as he is because , in part, in has all day to throw back there. Build that wall!

Tundraboy's picture

4 blocks of granite!

Tundraboy's picture

As much as I think Bulaga might need to retire for his future health, we absolutely need him. But we also need an experienced back up. Can not afford to risk Rodgers health more than ever and grooming a prospect in the draft has to take a back seat for the time being.

Riverboy's picture

Why not keep Bulaga for one more year and roll the dice on his health in 2018? To replace him with a healthy RT with similar takent would cost the Packers twice what they would save on his cap hit. The smarter move would be to move or cut Nelson and Cobb and use the $20M+ to add Sammy Watkins and get some much needed defensive help. Ziggy Ansah or Dontari Poe would look good in green & gold. Let's face it the Packers need to upgrade more than just their GM, DC and a handful of position coaches. This Packer team needs to get an influx of proven NFL talent.

fthisJack's picture

there is a salary cap. an influx of NFL talent won't come cheap so you have to get rid of some dead weight on the roster if you choose this route. Bulaga misses time every year and he's not getting any more athletic with age. now on 2 repaired knees, i would say move on. we have 3 young guys and the draft and FA to save some money and upgrade that position.

fthisJack's picture

there is a salary cap. an influx of NFL talent won't come cheap so you have to get rid of some dead weight on the roster if you choose this route. Bulaga misses time every year and he's not getting any more athletic with age. now on 2 repaired knees, i would say move on. we have 3 young guys and the draft and FA to save some money and upgrade that position.

carlos's picture

Maybe I should start liking Murphy Mojo. Interesting. I figured if he went to Stanford he should be smart. I hope he gets stronger and healthy. I like him more than Spriggs at this point in time.

Mojo's picture

What if I gave you the following Bio:

Worked two internships in college, the first with the San Jose Earthquakes in sales and marketing after his freshman year and then as a financial analyst with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch following his junior year…High school: Three-year varsity letterwinner in football at San Clemente (Calif.) High School, playing offensive tackle and defensive end...Named an All-American by SuperPrep, PrepStar and MaxPreps and was listed as a five-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.com...Rated as the third-best high school offensive tackle and 19th top overall recruit in the nation by Rivals.com...Also listed as the second-best recruit in California by Rivals.com and SuperPrep...Ranked as the fourth-best offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com and ESPNU.com...Ranked as the top offensive lineman in the nation and 16th recruit overall by SuperPrep...Was a three-time All-South Coast Conference selection...Named Most Valuable Player of the South Coast Conference as a senior.

Pretty impressive right? Might want to think about taking this guy. The thing is he's already on your team. This is just part of Kyle Murphys bio. Dudes got a pedigree.

As a pro he needed to add strength but he's smart, has pro size and was showing improvement until the foot injury. I say give him plenty of PT in the preseason. The Pack may already have their RT on the roster.

Worztik's picture

Good one Mojo Man... you just “lit a fire” under his ass!!!!!

Tundraboy's picture

Hope you're right. Like Murphy and would love to see him seize the opportunity. One less critical need to worry about.

Bure9620's picture

They can carry the artic whale on PUP. He's too much of a dead money hit of $3.2 mil. This is not worth an all out release. It would not make much sense as he could even be ready late in the season where they may need depth with injuires at that point anyway. Carry him on PUP, place on IR if needed after week 6, and activate later. If this year is a disaster, release as I believe they have an out after the year.

croatpackfan's picture

I'm reading this comments... And I can not believe. Do any of you know phrase how neighborrow grass always looks greener?

Some of you would love to have huge cap space to spent on players other teams rid of. Well, there is the reason why others cut or release that players... It is not likely because those players are so good, or excellent and team who released them wish to make your team better...

I will like to remind you on Bennett case. It was looked like TT hit on him, just to see rew months later that it was epic miss and left legal issues and some dead money...

There is no guarantee that any FA signing will function. You do not build your team through FA, you just patch the holes with FA in the team build through draft to excellency!

flackcatcher's picture

We all like to play fantasy GM Coat. don't harsh our mellow! (Yes, you right. I thought TT signing of both Bennett and Kendricks over Cook was genius. Who could have known that they both blow up........)

billybobton's picture

Instead of repeating inaccurate nonsense look at what happened, let me clue you in a bit

WRs, catch the ball low drop rate don't block esp don't w/big guys

TE, hybrid, don't catch well HAVE TO BLOCK BIG GUYS
and blocking big guys hurts, it impacts catch rate

OL can not catch and do block

Bennett played OL until he was hurt, stop looking at idiots like Pete D and watch what happens on the field instead

Tundraboy's picture

Free Agency works too. Grass can be greener. The art is knowing which players would fit. There are many examples of players who prosper in different situations. It works both ways. We may even find some in-house who respond to Pettine's message.

bodei1newbie1's picture

i think it's time to say good bye to Bulaga and bring in a good free agent right tackle on offense

fthisJack's picture

as MOJO said, their RT may already be on the roster and no one knows it yet. we have to give Murphy and Spriggs a chance to develop. not everyone comes in ready to contribute. but to stick with an oft injured, aging dude with bad knees making big money is a waste. look to FA and the draft for depth.

egbertsouse's picture

Burnett is a JAG. HHCD is a bum. The safety position needs to be revamped but only after they secure a pass rusher.

Worztik's picture

WC... tell us how you really feel!!!

Riverboy's picture

Hey croatpackfan!
You should check out how Howie Roseman used free agency and shrewd trades to go from 7-9 to 16-3 in just one season. 68% of the Eagles roster was acquired via free agency and trade. 62% of the Pats Super Bowl roster was acquired via free agency or trade. The only one on the Patriots roster who is untouchable is #12. That should be the Packers approach to putting real NFL talent around their #12. Why pay Mason Crosby $5.25M next season when the Packers don't have an adequate backup QB? Can't we find a rookie kicker or cheap veteran who is just as good? The Packers need to get faster at WR and they need a veteran backup QB on offense. They also need more playmakers on defense. So b'bye Cobb, Nelson, Crosby and Burnett! It's been a nice run, but all four have contracts that are well above market value and other than Burnett, their production as of late has slipped. Use that cap savings to get some younger NFL talent to improve this team now - not 5 years from now when Aaron Rodgers will be 39 years old.

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