5. Last call for Bryan Bulaga
There was nothing more frustrating than to watch Bryan Bulaga limp off the field in the second half. The eighth-year veteran reportedly reaggravated his ankle injury suffered in the preseason and finished the game looking on from the bench.
The right tackle’s exit put Rodgers in the uncomfortable position of having to lead a furious fourth quarter comeback with backups at both tackle positions.
Filling in for Bulaga was the inept Justin McCray, whose lack of lateral agility make him much better suited to play inside at his more natural guard position.
As expected, McCray allowed free access to pass rushers attacking his side of the line forcing his quarterback to continually abort plays before he even had a chance to go through his progressions.
There’s no telling how severe Bulaga’s latest setback is and how much action he’ll need to miss as a result, but the veteran’s inability to stay healthy is becoming a common source of angst.
A temporary solution would be to move Kyle Murphy back to the right side once blindside protector David Bakhtiari returns to the lineup.
But Murphy himself has yet to prove that he’s up to the task of playing in space on either side of the line, while former second round pick Jason Spriggs continues to miss time on injured reserve.
There’s no sugar coating the fact that the Packers offensive line is an unadulterated mess.
If the coaching staff cannot count on Bulaga to stay healthy, then it’s time to start to looking for his successor.
But wait, wasn’t that what Spriggs was brought in for?
Yes, but his preseason struggles make him far from a sure thing as the starting right tackle in waiting and will most likely necessitate the front office to draft one or two legitimate bookends to compete for the spot.
As for Bulaga, he may only be 28 years old, but he’s already in his eighth season and missed 34 out of a possible 114 games in his pro career.
The fact that the Packers rewarded the 2010 first-round pick with a 5-year, $33.75-million contract in 2015 means that GM Ted Thompson will probably have ask Bulaga to take a significant pay cut in the offseason or perhaps even ponder releasing the long-time starter.
His current contract is structured to pay him low-base salaries on the front end, which spike in years three, four and five.
Moving Bulaga’s contract off the books can undoubtedly create some hearty salary-cap relief.
This is an issue the front office will need to come to terms with in the very near future.