More than anything else, the New York Jets need two positions in 2023: Quarterback and left tackle. And the new trending theory in NYJ circles right now is — why not kill two birds with one stone and get both from the same place?
The wide belief around the NFL is that the Green Bay Packers need to shed cap space this offseason and reconstruct themselves around a new core. Considering quarterback Jordan Love — a former first-round pick — is entering year four of his rookie contract, it makes sense that GB move on from Aaron Rodgers and give the youngster a fair shot at the starting job.
If they trade Rodgers and go with Love, another aging veteran has been labeled as a cut candidate for the Packers. That player is long-time left tackle David Bakhtiari, a scheme fit with obvious ties to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Rodgers.
Would Packers LT David Bakhtiari Make Sense as Trade Candidate or Signing With Jets?
Fans have speculated that the Jets should ask the Packers to package both Rodgers and Bakhtiari in a trade, but in all honesty, that doesn’t make much sense. If Gang Green trades for the legendary quarterback, they’d want to rework his contract and get it done well before June 1.
However, according to Over the Cap, Bakhtiari holds a pre-June 1 dead cap hit of $23.13 million. Post-June 1, that number drops to a manageable $11.56 million for the cap strapped Cheeseheads. Those two hits are exactly the same if the blindside blocker is cut.
The reason it’s more likely he’s released is this. The NFL allows each franchise to designate two veteran releases as post-June 1 cuts at the start of the new league year. Per Pro Football Rumors, this practice is often mutually beneficial for player and team because “it allows the player to hit the market when potential suitors still have cap room and are still looking to add free agents, and it allows the club to spread out the player’s cap charge without having to actually wait until June 1 to release him.”
They added that “waiting until that point could mean paying roster or workout bonuses in the interim. [Plus], even if the team doesn’t need that June cap space for free agency, it can come in handy for signing draft picks.”
Bakhtiari still appears to have a good relationship with the Packers front office despite the fact that he could be cut in 2023, so a post-June 1 designation feels like the most likely outcome in the case of the two-time All-Pro left tackle, assuming they elect to part ways.
Packers’ David Bakhtiari Not Retiring, Does Come With Health Risks
Bakhtiari has already made it clear he’s not retiring in 2023, so he’ll be up for grabs if the Packers decide to move on. There are a few reasons a signing might make sense for the Jets and a few reasons they should stay away from this Rodgers reunion. First, let’s tackle the pros.
The most obvious reason is that the Jets need a competent left tackle and if they were to trade for Rodgers, that most likely means sacrificing your 2023 first-round pick — which makes it hard to find a day one starting LT in the draft this April. As mentioned above, there’s familiarity here between Hackett and Bakhtiari too, which helps ease this transition all around.
Reason number two is his upside/price. When healthy, Bakhtiari has consistently been one of the best left tackles in the game. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro who has started 139 NFL outings including playoffs. Theoretically, general manager Joe Douglas could sign the blocker at a bargain rate if he’s released and owed money.
A third pro is that along with Hackett, he’d help the Jets sell Rodgers on New York, and it appears owner Woody Johnson is all-in on landing the big fish that is A-Rod. Bakhtiari and the four-time MVP have been close friends in Green Bay throughout his entire career.
Then there’s the downside, and recent injuries are the major red flag. Bakhtiari had been a pillar of health up until 2020. He only finished with 12 starts that season after a torn ACL, followed by one in 2021 and 11 in 2022. Both setbacks in his recovery and an emergency appendectomy have compromised his past two seasons but supposedly, the typically sturdy LT is finally healthy again.
Two, cap space and roster needs. Even if Douglas gets Bakhtiari at a bargain rate, he’ll still be more expensive than the average left tackle. The Jets could easily mitigate this by releasing either current LT Duane Brown as a post-June 1 cut, or defensive end Carl Lawson — or both. Wide receivers Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios profile as two more potential cap casualties if you need room for Rodgers and Bakhtiari.
If there was a third reason, it’d be getting younger. Rather than throw financial assets at 31-year-old with injury history, the Jets could draft another OT or target someone with more room to grow.
Whatever the outcome, this is a very interesting avenue to explore this offseason if you’re Douglas and Robert Saleh — especially if the plan is trading for Rodgers.