What Bryan Bulaga’s placement on injured reserve means for Chargers

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Chargers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga was on a clear path to a fresh start after spending the majority of his first season in the blue and gold on the sidelines. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition.

On Friday, the team announced that Bulaga is headed to the injured reserve. This came after he sustained a back injury in the season opener against Washington, which he only managed to play two quarters.

Bulaga is eligible to return in three weeks but given the fact that he only managed to play about 38% of the snaps last season due to multiple injuries, including his back, there is serious concern over the longevity of his health.

What does this mean for the right tackle spot in the time being?

Heading into the season, Storm Norton was named the primary swing tackle. After Bulaga left the game in Week 1, Norton filled in and held his own against reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young.

Los Angeles signed Michael Schofield in correspondence to Bulaga being placed on the injured reserve. Schofield was the Bolts’ starting right guard in 2018 and 2019.

While his playing time with the Chargers came on the interior, Schofield has the ability to play tackle, as he started 13 games there during his time with the Broncos.

Matt Feiler, who is currently the starting left guard, can kick outside. The same goes for rookie Brenden Jaimes, who is listed as a guard on the depth chart, but all of his collegiate snaps came at tackle.

Trey Pipkins has logged playing time at both tackle spots.

There are a few options how the team can go about filling the void, but the likeliest out of all of them is Norton starting, especially after holding his own against one of the top pass rushers last weekend.

What does this mean for Bulaga and his future with the Bolts?

Bulaga signed a three-year, $30 million contract last year with the hopes of supplying sustainability at the position in the time being. But considering how his tenure with the team has played out, cutting him and saving $11 million against the cap next year is a strong possibility.

The Chargers could look to address the right tackle position early in next year’s draft if they release Bulaga. Players that intrigue me in the early phase of the season include Penn State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere, Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard, Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele and Washington State’s Abraham Lucas.