Bryan Bulaga came to the Los Angeles Chargers with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, but the veteran offensive tackle is surprised his hand isn’t heavier after spending 10 years with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Bulaga spent some time reflecting on his seasons with the Packers on Wednesday during his first media conference call since signing his three-year, $30 million contract with the Chargers back in March. While he didn’t disparage his former team, Bulaga did say he was surprised the Packers never made it to another Super Bowl during his time given the talent on their rosters.
“I’ve played in a lot of NFC championship games. I’ve lost a lot of NFC championship games,” Bulaga said, via Jason B Hirschhorn of NFL.com.
Bulaga was just a rookie when the Packers won their most recent Super Bowl championship, but the 31-year-old right tackle started in three more NFC championship games over his next nine seasons that all saw Green Bay finish on the wrong side. The Packers took Seattle to overtime and came within six points in 2014, but their appearances in 2016 (against Atlanta) and 2019 (against San Francisco) were both blowouts by multiple touchdowns.
All four of the Packers’ NFC championship games — including their victorious matchup against Chicago during the 2010-11 postseason — have been played away from Lambeau Field.
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Bulaga Says He Knew Packers Wouldn’t Re-Sign Him
According to Hirschhorn, Bulaga also said Wednesday he knew by the start of free agency in mid-March that the Packers were not likely going to make a push to re-sign him.
While an experienced offensive tackle can be difficult to find, Bulaga’s age and injury history were both lingering concerns despite a strong and mostly healthy year in 2019. The Packers also simply would not have been able to afford him for the money he got from the Chargers, at least not without making some deep sacrifices for the next three seasons.
Once it came to finding a new squad, Bulaga believed he could fit in well with the Chargers — partly because he already knew offensive line coach James Campen from their shared time in Green Bay and also because he knew the damage the Chargers could do after facing them last season with the Packers.
“I know how good the roster is because I got beat up by them,” Bulaga said in reference to the Packers’ 26-11 loss in Los Angeles during Week 9.
Now, Bulaga goes from protecting one of the game’s elite quarterbacks to fortifying the lines for an incoming rookie. The Chargers could still potentially go with Tyrod Taylor as their starter to begin the 2020 season, but the future seems destined to belong to former Oregon passer Justin Herbert after L.A. selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in April.
Meanwhile, the Packers signed former Detroit Lions tackle Rick Wagner and drafted a trio of offensive linemen in the sixth round this year to help compensate for the loss of Bulaga. While Wagner would seem to be the presumptive starter as one of the team’s few free-agent signings, the Packers are anticipating competition for the job in training camp.