RT Bryan Bulaga
Shortly before it became official that the Chargers weren’t going to sign Tom Brady, they moved on to signing Packers’ tackle Bryan Bulaga. A three year, $30 million dollar deal was a decent enough contract for both sides.
Bulaga played alright when the numbers are actually analyzed, but the best ability in football is availability as the expression goes. Bulaga only played a handful of complete games and had four to five others where he had to come out during the game due to an injury. Unlike Turner’s groin injury that caused him to miss time, these injuries were far from localized. Lingering knee, back, and foot injuries in addition to a concussion plus an illness.
It was just an absolute nightmare of a season from an injury perspective. Bulaga’s dealt with injuries in the past to the point where he might’ve earned the label of injury prone, but there was some serious bad luck involved with some of the hits he took as well.
Had Bulaga stayed healthy the whole year, it’s clear to me that he would’ve finished as the best starting lineman. He allowed two sacks and 13 pressures on about 450 snaps. His pass blocking grade, while down slightly from recent seasons, was still the highest of any 2020 Chargers’ starting lineman by far.
Unlike the potential release of Turner as a cap casualty, Bulaga will be on the 2021 Chargers team no matter what. Releasing him would create $14 million dollars in dead cap. It’s not even realistic for the Chargers to move on from Bulaga until 2022 anyway.
Should Bulaga have slightly better injury luck, I imagine his 2021 campaign will be better. When he was healthy, he was far from the steep decline that Turner was on. With Bulaga slotted in for 2021, it’s the other four positions that the Chargers really have to figure out. They will have to get some better tackle depth to prepare for the possibility that Bulaga’s injury issues don’t subside.