1. Bryan Bulaga
Bulaga has been a starter for the Packers since they drafted him in the 1st round in 2010, making his debut as a starter in week 5 of 2010. However, despite that, he’s only made 48 starts in 5 seasons, as he’s missed 30 games with injuries over that time period, including all of 2013 with a torn ACL. When on the field, he’s been up and down. He struggled mightily as a rookie, grading out 71st out of 78 eligible in 2010, but he ranked 7th among offensive tackles on 12 starts in 2011. In 2012, he graded out below average in 9 starts before missing all of 2013, but he returned in 2014 to make 15 starts and grade out 16th among offensive tackles. He’s easily the best offensive tackle available on the open market, despite his inconsistent past, and he’ll get a good amount of money on the open market, but he’ll be a risky signing for whoever signs him.
2. Jake Long
Long, the 1st overall pick in 2008, was arguably the best offensive tackle in the game from 2008-2010, grading out 10th, 2nd, and 3rd respectively on Pro Football Focus in those 3 seasons. However, back problems slowed him in 2011 and 2012, causing him to finish 20th and 46th in those 2 seasons respectively and miss a combined 6 games. As a result of these back problems, Long had to settle for a 4-year, 34 million dollar deal from the Rams, when he could have gotten upwards of 10-12+ million dollars yearly if he had continued to play as well as he did from 2008-2010. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked offensive tackle in 2013, in his first year with the Rams, but he tore his ACL week 17 and then tore it again week 8 in 2014, leaving his future in serious doubt. The Rams saved 9.25 million in cash and 8 million in cap space by releasing him this off-season and he could opt to retire.
3. Joe Barksdale
Barksdale was a 3rd round pick of the Raiders in 2011, but he barely played in his first 2 seasons in the league, playing 282 snaps in 2011-2012 combined. He became a starter in 2013 with the Rams, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 25th ranked offensive tackle in 13 starts. He couldn’t quite match that in 2014, grading out slightly below average in 16 starts, but he should be looking at starter’s money this off-season. The Rams would be wise to bring him back because, even though he’s not great, but might be their best healthy offensive linemen.
4. Jeremy Pernell
Pernell has a chance to be this off-season’s Anthony Collins, an inexperienced offensive linemen who has flashed when given a chance that gets a significant amount of money as a starter on the open market. Pernell was a 2009 undrafted free agent coming into this season that had played 294 snaps in 5 seasons in the NFL coming into 2014, but he ended up playing 388 snaps, making 5 starts, and grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 20th ranked offensive tackle in 2014. No one played fewer snaps and graded out better than him. He won’t quite get the 5-year, 30 million dollar deal Collins got last off-season, as his history isn’t quite as clean as Collins’ was, but Pernell could easily be making starter’s money to start somewhere next season. That somewhere could be Dallas if they decide he’s a younger, cheaper version of Doug Free.