When the New York Giants hired Ben McAdoo away from the Green Bay Packers a year ago to be their offensive coordinator we spent a ton of time discussing which Packers free agents the Giants would target to help McAdoo bring his new offense to New Jersey.
Tight end Jermichael Finley? Center Evan Dietrich-Smith? Running back James Starks? Tight end Andrew Quarless? Wide receiver James Jones?
Turned out we spent all that time for nothing, since the Giants did not sign a single Green Bay free agent. Well, a year later here we are again. Free agency is approaching and a Green Bay offensive player would appear to be a perfect target for the Giants in free agency. Who is it this time?
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
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Justin Pugh has capably manned that spot for two seasons since the Giants made him their first-round pick in 2013. The Giants know, however, that they are at least one player short of a full deck on their offensive line. Part of the reason Pugh was drafted was because the Giants felt he could play anywhere across the line, and both general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin have admitted that -- despite Pugh's objections -- moving him inside is on the table. If, that is, they can find the right replacement.
That is where Bulaga could come in. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick by Green Bay in 2010 and has been the team's starting right tackle in 48 of the 52 games he has played, the four non-starts coming as a rookie.
Bulaga finished 2014 with a +12.7 Pro Football Focus grade (+13.2 in pass blocking, +0.1 in run blocking). He allowed four sacks and 25 hits or hurries on the season.
It was an impressive season for Bulaga after he had missed the past season-and-a-half with injuries. Bulaga spent the final seven games of 2012 on IR with a hip injury, then had a planned move to left tackle in 2013 aborted when he blew out his knee.
Bulaga's best season was 2011, his second year in the NFL. He had a +19.0 PFF grade (+8.2 in pass protection, +10.3 in run blocking). He allowed only one sack that season.
Evan 'Tex' Western of SB Nation's Packers web site, Acme Packing Company, is hopeful that the Packers keep Bulaga.
"I agree that Bulaga should be paid like a top-tier RT this off-season. My guess is he'll get somewhere between $6-7M per year. He's an excellent pass-blocker, and solid if unspectacular as an anchor in the run game as well. I'm still hoping he comes back," Western said. "Though he's only ever played RT in Green Bay, we think he has the ability to play LT as well - he was supposed to move there in 2013 before he tore his ACL early in training camp, then he shifted back to RT again this year. I expect the Packers to make a strong run at retaining him."
There is, of course, much speculation that the Giants will look for offensive line help in the 2015 NFL Draft. If they want proven help, however, Bulaga could be an excellent addition.
Are you interested, Giants fans?