“This is my first time going through this, so I’m just going to attack every day, try to hit every benchmark I can,” Bakhtiari said (via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal). “And once ‘Doc’ can check me off, I can check myself and I can go out there and not only perform and protect myself but perform at the level that the Packers need me to, I think that’s where you’ll see me return, on that date.”
The start of the 2021 season will mark about eight months since the All-Pro lineman suffered the injury, which would definitely be a bit quick for a return from an ACL injury. The Packers surely wouldn’t want to do anything to compromise the health of the three-time Pro Bowler and five-team All Pro (including two first-team nods), especially following another successful season in 2020 where he ranked as the second overall offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus.
Plus, besides preserving the future health of one of their best players, the team also invested some big money in keeping Bakhtiari in Green Bay. Back in November, the team signed the 29-year-old to a whopping four-year, $92MM contract, making him one of the highest-paid linemen in league history. Both sides slightly reworked that contract earlier this offseason, but the move merely pushed some money down the road, helping the Packers’ 2021 cap sheet.
Assuming Bakhtiari is sidelined for the start of the 2021 season, the Packers have a handful of options that they could turn to at left tackle. Billy Turner played both tackles spots in 2020, and he’ll presumably start at one of the two positions to begin the season. Opposite him, the team could temporarily turn to the likes of fourth-round rookie Royce Newman or fifth-round rookie Cole Van Lanen.