It’s about time the Green Bay Packers made the offensive line an offseason focus.
When fully healthy, the Green Bay Packers have a solid offensive line. Its biggest strength is at the tackle positions with three-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari on the left side and former Pro Bowler Bryan Bulaga on the right.
It’s time for general manager Brian Gutekunst to make the offensive line a priority.
One of the Packers’ biggest offseason needs
The Packers gave up 53 sacks in 2018, third-most in the NFL. For the offense to bounce back next season, that needs to change.
Of the 10 teams that gave up the fewest sacks this season, eight made the playoffs. That includes the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, who will meet in Super Bowl LIII in under two weeks. The Indianapolis Colts led the way with a league-low 18 sacks allowed after making it their offseason priority a year ago.
The Packers should do the same.
Guard is the biggest area of need along the offensive line. The Packers could enter 2019 with two new starting guards. But they should also find another tackle or two for depth.
When healthy Bakhtiari and Bulaga will be the starters, but Bulaga has only played in all 16 regular season games twice in his career. The Packers need depth at tackle to help if either starter gets injured.
If Gutekunst decides to use a first-round pick on an offensive lineman, there could be a few options to choose from. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has three linemen ranked inside the top 16 players in the draft class: tackles Andre Dillard and Jawaan Taylor, and guard Jonah Williams.
Packers should bring back Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga should be back in 2019. He has one year remaining on his current contract, but with a long injury history there is a possibility the Packers move on to free up cap room.
Releasing Bulaga this offseason would give Green Bay an additional $6.66 million in cap room to work with, according to Spotrac, but also another need at a key position. That’s why it would be a mistake to cut Bulaga this year.
When healthy Bulaga has proven he’s still one of the best tackles in football. ESPN ranked Bulaga second among tackles for pass block win rate percentage, with an impressive 92 percent. He was one position higher than Bakhtiari on the list.
And while Bulaga has missed a lot of time due to injury in the past, he did play in 14 games this past season. Let’s say he misses six next year, as an example. That’s still 10 games of high-level play at the right tackle position.
It’s unclear whether the Green Bay Packers will keep Bulaga for 2019, but they absolutely should.