Bill Barnwell over at ESPN has been spending the entire free agency period up to this point covering each of the big signings and every trade made over the last nine days. He’s assigning letter grades to every move with his explanation of why the move graded out the way it did.
The first move made by the Chargers last week was the signing of former Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga. The move was huge and viewed as a big win for the Chargers, especially considering the play of the right tackle spot over the last few seasons. The addition of Bulaga solidifies the right side to a degree this team hasn’t seen in over a decade. He’s missed 45 games in his career but just two of those have come in the last two seasons. He most recently played all 16 games en route helping the Packers make the NFC Championship Game.
Re-watched every #Packers offensive snap vs. Bears and kept an eye on Khalil Mack, who killed them twice last year. Counted 16 snaps where he matched up with Bryan Bulaga. Not once in those 16 snaps did Mack influence the play. Full story coming later. pic.twitter.com/keb0EQf8zX— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 7, 2019
Barnwell gave this move by the Chargers a solid B+. Here’s what he had to say:
“The best case for Bulaga’s indirect value has been observing what happens to Aaron Rodgers when Bulaga isn’t on the field. In 2019, when the right tackle played 16 games for only the third time in 10 pro seasons, he missed most of two games and parts of six others. Unsurprisingly, Rodgers’ numbers fell off: The quarterback’s passer rating dropped from 96.6 with Bulaga on the field to 83.8 across 101 dropbacks without him. Rodgers’ sack rate was actually worse with Bulaga on the field, but he went from averaging 7.2 yards per attempt with him on the field to just 5.8 yards per throw without him. Rodgers is no fool: When Bulaga wasn’t protecting him, he got the ball out more quickly.”
So it’s safe to assume that this deal would look a lot better if Bulaga could manage to stay healthier moving forward. This is all understandable. Chargers are no strangers to injuries and a signing like this might scare some people away from fully embracing it. In moments like these, I just tell people you gotta pull some positivity out of your a** and stay optimistic. Bulaga could go on and play every game. He could make the dang Pro Bowl for all we know. POSITIVITY, YEAH!
"He just lines up and gets the job done."@BaldyNFL breaks down OL Bryan Bulaga's 2019 tape. ️ pic.twitter.com/8k7l7bWsaF— NFL (@NFL) March 6, 2020
Part of the reason Barnwell was so fond of this move was that he compared it to the Jets signing George Fant to the same contract, who is a player with barely a full season worth of experience in the NFL. Bulaga is a tried-and-true veteran at an important position.
In conclusion, I have to agree with Barnwell and his grade. Some thought Bulaga was the best tackle available on the market not named Trent Williams. That’s good praise to hear. But what do you all think? Agree or disagree with Barnwell’s grade?