The Green Bay Packers have had some tough decisions coming up for the 2023 offseason, but general manager Brian Gutekunst was able to get a head start on those decisions by working out a deal with Elgton Jenkins.
Jenkins was on the final year of his rookie deal in 2022, and it was unclear what his future held coming into this season. The 26-year-old suffered a torn ACL in Week 11 of last season, and it was unclear when he’d be able to return in 2022. Fortunately, the former second-round pick was able to return early in the year, and has slowly been able to return to form.
Now, as a testament to all of Jenkins’ hard work, the Packers have given the Pro Bowl offensive lineman a four-year, $68 million contract extension. Ian Rapaport with NFL Network tweeted to announce the extension, also noting that it makes Jenkins second-highest paid guard in the league.
With David Bakhtiari’s future uncertain given his long-term knee injury and his recent appendectomy, the Packers will now feel confident in having at least one star lineman on the team in 2023 and beyond.
Elgton Jenkins’ Football Career
He may not have been a first-round pick coming into the league, but Jenkins has established himself as one of the more reliable and versatile offensive linemen in the NFL.
Coming out of high school in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Jenkins was only a 3-star recruit and the 94th-ranked offensive tackle in the 2014 recruiting class. His offers included smaller programs like UAB, Temple, and Louisiana Tech, but Jenkins decided to stay in his home state to play for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
After redshirting his first year for the Bulldogs, Jenkins played all over the line during his college career, playing right tackle, left guard, and center. By his senior season in 2018, Jenkins earned All-American honors and was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Given his versatility and dominance his senior year at center, the Packers took Jenkins in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft. Since arriving in Green Bay, he’s played all across the line, playing at least one snap at all five positions.
Jenkins’ versatility and dominance helped him earn Pro Bowl honors in 2020, and with that same skill set returning post-injury in 2022, the Packers made sure to keep him under contract for at least a few more years.
Could David Bakhtiari Retire in 2023?
With Jenkins locked up under contract, the Packers will have some security on the offensive line. However, there are still questions that need to be answered with All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari.
Bakhtiari suffered a torn ACL just before the playoffs during the 2020 season, but the injury has still kept him on the injury report and limited in practice nearly two years later. The recovery has taken so long that even draft scouts have mocked potential successors at left tackle for the Packers in case Bakhtiari retires.
However, at 32 years old, Bakhtiari is still playing at an incredibly high level when healthy. According to Pro Football Focus, Bakhtiari is the seventh-ranked tackle with an 82.1 overall grade in 481 offensive snaps.
It’s clear that Bakhtiari can still play when on the field, but given how long it’s taken for the former All-Pro to recover from his knee injury, there’s a chance that he could decide to retire rather than risk further injury in 2023.