Even though the Los Angeles Chargers did not land prized free-agent quarterback Tom Brady this offseason, they did manage to pull in several key veterans that should immediately upgrade several areas of weakness on the roster. One of those, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, will secure one of the two tackle spots for the foreseeable future.
Yet when free agency began, Bulaga didn't know he would ultimately land in Southern California.
"I'd never gone through it because the last time I was scheduled to be a free agent I had re-signed with Green Bay before the whole thing kind of got going," Bulaga said of the free-agent process on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "This time it was different. Sitting around kind of just waiting, getting a phone call from my agent every few hours updating me on what was going on. We knew pretty early that we wouldn't be heading back to Green Bay. That was made known pretty early, I think before the opening bell of the tampering process. We kind of knew that. We had an open mind and we were willing to kind of hear where the market was going and what teams were going to call."
Independent of which quarterback starts for the Chargers this season, the team wanted to upgrade its offensive line. Bulaga, one of the best tackles on the market, made sense from that standpoint. He also has a preexisting relationship with new offensive-line coach James Campen, which helped facilitate the move.
"The Chargers were a team that was very interested from early on," Bulaga said. "Obviously, for me, a very familiar face is the offensive-line coach in coach Campen. He was my O-line coach in Green Bay for nine years. So, going to a place that is unfamiliar to me with having a familiar face there was a big sell for me."
The Chargers also helped their cause by making a strong push for Bulaga off the bat.
"There were a handful of teams that called and inquired, but no team really got down to negotiations right away like the Chargers did," Bulaga said. "That was the one team that, from the tampering period at the start of it and kind of throughout the entire time, really negotiated right away. Other teams, I feel like, were kind of feeling things out. There weren't really any concrete negotiations going on. It was really the Chargers."
With Bulaga joining a revamped offensive line that also added five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner this offseason, the Chargers appear well on their way to running out their strongest unit in several years.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH