Though the Green Bay Packers’ 2019 season ended less than 48 hours ago, the focus has already shifted to the myriad decisions the team will have to make this offseason. The list includes a potentially difficult call the front office will have to make on one of its best players.
After a decade in Green Bay, Bryan Bulaga’s contract expires this offseason. Bulaga plans to continue his career, but knows he might end up playing for a team besides the Packers in 2020. “You think about it before you go out there,” Bulaga said after Sunday’s NFC title game. “There’s always potential this is could be the last one. We were in the playoffs. And now that the season’s over, yeah, we’ll see. But I think at first you reflect on the season and think back on success you had and things we did well. There will be a time for the next phase of this thing.”
The Packers have the cap space to re-sign Bulaga, but they also have to consider other future expenditures. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and longtime starting center Corey Linsley each have one year remaining on their contracts. The same applies to the backfield tandem of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, and defensive tackle Kenny Clark will require an extension soon as well. Those concerns complicate the team’s approach to Bulaga, who could command a lucrative contract on the open market.
While Bulaga’s future remains unclear, the Packers’ franchise quarterback hopes the front office will continue to improve the roster in the offseason. “I feel really confident in Brian [Gutekunst] and the job that he’s done and his staff,” Aaron Rodgers said. “They did go all-in — as much as they could — this year and the pieces that they brought in. I’m confident that he’s going to continue to add to this squad. So, that part is very exciting. It is a lot different feel than three years ago.”
The Packers project to have around $32 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. That figure could increase should the team make cost-cutting moves such as the release of tight end Jimmy Graham.
Some of the moves suggested here seem likely to occur, such as increasing the level of athleticism and speed at linebacker and the aforementioned cut of Graham. However, Lombardi Ave suggests that the Packers should seriously consider adding depth at running back, one of the deeper position groups on the current roster.
While the NFL and NFLPA work on a new collective-bargaining agreement, longtime offensive lineman and union executive committee member Russell Okung wants to become more involved with the talks. Okung’s stance on season length and other player-safety concerns differ from the current union leadership and could make it difficult for the league to add a 17th game to the season. “Does 16 games make sense for us?” Okung said. “Perhaps it should be 14.”
Given the stakes of the CBA negotiations, Okung could become a major figure in what could eventually become a player lockout.