This offseason, the Green Bay Packers were able to work out a deal with two of their top free agents to keep them in Wisconsin for the next several years. Wide receiver Randall Cobb and right tackle Bryan Bulaga each signed new contracts which kept the core of the offense together.
Cobb's deal, for four years and $40 million, made him the eighth-highest paid wideout in the NFL, based on annual salary. Two players above him on that list, Damaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant, were Franchise Tagged this spring but signed long-term deals about two weeks ago.
Bulaga, on the other hand, signed the second-richest contract (in terms of average annual value) for a right tackle in NFL history. His five-year deal was worth $33.75 million total, which breaks out to $6.75 million per year over the life of the contract.
That value fell below the contract of just one other right tackle - Gosder Cherilus of the Indianapolis Colts - whose $35 million contract averaged $7 million annually. On Monday, however, the Colts elected to release Cherilus with three years remaining on his contract, eating an $8.7 million salary cap hit this season to free up money in 2016 and 2017. By doing that, the Colts just helped make Bulaga the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL.
Right tackles, of course, are traditionally paid less than the left tackles who protect the quarterback's blind side. There are a whopping 18 players who primarily play left tackle whose annual contract value exceeds Bulaga's, and there are even seven centers and four guards whose contracts are bigger. (Note: that does not include Packers left guard Josh Sitton, who signed a five-year, $33.75 million deal back in 2012, equaling the total value for Bulaga's deal).
So while Bulaga may only be the 30th-highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL right now, he's now got one thing that he can hang his hat on: he's the top-paid player at his position.
Oh, and he's got those 33 million other reasons to be happy about that contract too.