David Bakhtiari does not think that the Green Bay Packers’ front office would really do it. Of course, a lot of teams would, and some teams (hello, Rams and Cardinals!) have already sent out signals that it’s exactly what they’re doing—that is, you know, the thing we’re not supposed to mention in the NFL … tanking.
Whenever there is a can’t-miss quarterback at the top of every team’s draft board, the notion of intentionally losing so that your team can be in position to draft said quarterback tends to take hold among a fan base and, presumably, among members of a front office. USC’s Caleb Williams will be there in the 2024 draft. Bakhtiari says the Packers’ decision makers, from GM Brian Gutekunst on down, had better not care about that.
If they do take the tanking path, well, Bakhtiari told The Athletic: “They’re gonna probably be in some trouble. Because the guys looked really f***ing good early, and that’s what I’m really pleased about.”
Youth Aplenty on Packers Roster
Indeed, there are ample reasons to be excited about the Packers’ prospects this season, even with Aaron Rodgers gone and all the concerns the team has coming in:
The new quarterback, Jordan Love, is a giant unknown.
Two-thirds of the receivers and tight ends have virtually no NFL experience
The left side of the offensive line (of which Bakhtiari is half, with Elgton Jenkins) has not been healthy over the last two seasons
The defense in which Green Bay has invested heavily in the draft recently (their top draft pick has been used on a defensive player in 11 of the last years) has repeatedly underachieved.
But the youth on this team is cause for excitement, especially the performance of Love in training camp. After some reports of early struggles, Love put together a strong summer, and if his connection with returning wideouts Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs (not to mention potential star Luke Musgrave) is as real as it sometimes appears, then— combined with a good season from the top-tier running-back duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — the Packers offense could be above average, certainly in a weak NFC.
Caleb Williams or no, the Packers should have no reason to tank.
Bakhtiari Pointed Out Packers ‘Rebuild’
Bakhtiari did dip his toe into controversy earlier this year when, speaking on a podcast, he used another word considered a no-no in eastern Wisconsin: rebuild.
Bakhtiari was not exactly off base in doing so. The Packers moved on from Rodgers and let go the bulk of their passing-game weapons along with him, including receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, and tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan.
But the comments did not sit well with the Packers and the team’s fans, and Bakhtiari explained it to The Athletic. It’s hard to look at a team that goes through the kind of overhaul the Packers went through and comes out the other side with the youngest roster in the league and NOT call it a rebuild.
“I didn’t really know what to expect and I had to lean on, especially my comments I made earlier, it was strictly emotionless and just looking at, what are they doing? What are the numbers saying? What does it look like on paper?” Bakhtiari says. “Coming here now, being the oldest guy, one, I definitely still feel young. Two, I’m pleasantly surprised about how we look.”
The front office is pleasantly surprised, too. At least, they’d better be.