The Green Bay Packers looked like they might lose running back Aaron Jones before he agreed to a pay cut and a restructure, and the team can avoid cutting a similarly talented roster member if it can find middle ground on another contract restructure.
Five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is set to take a monstrous $29 million bite out of the Packers’ salary cap in 2023, which has made him a prime cut candidate heading into the offseason.
However, there is significant room for savings on Bakhtiari’s deal in the upcoming season if the Packers push some of that money down the line to future years. Alex Kay of Bleacher Report laid out that scenario on Tuesday, February 21.
While the fate of superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains unclear as he mulls his future during a darkness retreat, the ball is in the front office’s court regarding the status of left tackle David Bakhtiari.
Green Bay could just release Bakhtiari, but it would require the club to take on an unsightly $23.1 million in dead money. A restructure makes the most sense — a move that could reduce Bakhtiari’s cap hit to approximately $21 million.
Green Bay accomplished one of its more important to-do items after running back Aaron Jones agreed to a pay cut and restructure last week that reduced his cap hit noticeably. Getting Bakhtiari to do the same will set up the Packers for a strong spring in free agency.
Injury-Prone Bakhtiari Has Been Elite For Packers When Healthy
Bakhtiari is difficult to justify at a high annual number moving forward only because of his lack of availability in recent years.
The left tackle suffered a torn ACL late in 2020, which cost him all but one game the following season. In total, Bakhtiari has missed 26 games over the past three years, mostly due to lingering issues with his knee. Now, on the wrong side of 30, he must be considered a potential injury risk every season for the rest of his career.
However, when he does play, Bakhtiari remains one of the better linemen in the NFL. He didn’t give up a sack across 11 games played in 2023 and Pro Football Focus ranked him the 12th best offensive tackle out of 81 players qualifying at the position with an overall grade of 79.8.
Rodgers Wants Bakhtiari Back, But Packers May Not Want Rodgers
What’s more, Rodgers has been clear that what the Packers decide to do with Bakhtiari, among a handful of other players, will impact his decision on his own future in Green Bay. What remains unclear is whether Rodgers’ advocacy helps, hurts or doesn’t affect Bakhtiari’s status with the Packers.
At any other time in the quarterback’s 18-year NFL history, or at least since he took over as the starter 15 seasons back, Rodgers’ stumping for a player would have all but guaranteed that player’s future in Green Bay if keeping him was in any way feasible. Now, however, reports indicate that the Packers aren’t interested in Rodgers even if he does come back for a 19th go around.
The team needs to solidify the offensive line regardless of who plays quarterback, though a reunion between Bakhtiari and Rodgers in Green Bay next season is looking less and less likely considering the tackle’s contract concerns and the quarterback’s apparent quarrel with the franchise.