There are a few Green Bay Packers due for a payday this upcoming offseason, but none are higher on the list than starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
The 31-year-old offensive line veteran is a little banged-up at the moment for the Packers as they head into Sunday’s NFC Championship at the San Francisco 49ers, but last week’s second-round win over Seattle was the first full game he missed all year. He started all 16 regular-season games for only the second time in his 10-year NFL career and braved through some injuries to do so.
The Packers finished the regular season with the league’s best pass-block win rate, according to ESPN statistics, which wouldn’t have been possible without Bulaga’s veteran presence opposite All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. The two of them have helped stabilize the unit around center Corey Linsley while new interior pieces — Billy Turner and rookie Elgton Jenkins — adjusted into new starting roles with the team.
But just how big of a contract could we see the Packers sign with Bulaga?
Bulaga is nearly at the end of his current five-year, $33 million contract, but his new deal is expected to cost more annually even if it will also likely be for a shorter period of time. He could command more than $10 million per year based on the latest Spotrac assessments, which calculates the market value of his next contract to be three years and about $30.4 million.
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Comparing Bulaga With Other Similar Players
Following the same Spotrac measures, Bulaga is best comparable with four other players based on age, contract status and statistical output: Chicago’s Bobby Massie, Kansas City’s Mitchell Schwartz, Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson and New England’s Marcus Cannon.
Johnson’s deal with the Eagles is, by far, the most lucrative among them after signing a four-year, $72 million contract extension back in late November. He also earned $54.595 million in guaranteed money, making it the biggest deal for an offensive lineman in NFL history on a “per-year and guarantee basis.” While Johnson and Bulaga both have Super Bowl rings, the Eagles starter has been picked for two Pro Bowl rosters and once to the All-Pro first team over his past three seasons.
Likewise, Cannon and Schwartz have both been named to All-Pro teams, but it’s not all about the accolades. Bulaga compares quite well with the other four statistically when looking specifically at the past two seasons, ranking second-best among them in hurries allowed per game (1.07) and third-best in overall rating (76.35). He does, however, fall behind the pack when it comes to sacks allowed with the worst per-game average of the five.
Now for the numbers. Cannon signed a five-year, $32.41 million deal with the Patriots when he was 28 years old, while Massie was 29 when he signed his four-year, $30.8 million with the Bears. Johnson’s extension also came when he was 29, which leaves Schwartz the only one of the bunch to sign his recent deal in his 30s.
Schwartz’s three-year, $24.4 million deal with the Chiefs was signed when he was 30 and makes him a good model for what Bulaga can expect from the market. The good news is a contract of the same size is within the Packers’ price range with roughly $31.78 million in cap space for 2020. The bad news? It does limit some of their other options for free agency with 20 other players set to become free agents, including inside linebacker Blake Martinez and kicker Mason Crosby.
On the plus side, Bulaga could always take a team-friendly deal again, especially depending on how the current postseason run ends. The veteran tackle has spent every season in Green Bay since he was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, so it’s certainly not unrealistic to think he would bend a little to continue playing in a Packers uniform.