Packers Expected To Cut LT David Bakhtiari

David Bakhtiari‘s time with the Packers is almost definitely winding down. Post-Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby, the 2013 draftee is the team’s longest-tenured player. But the knee injury sustained in a late-season practice in 2020 sidetracked the All-Pro’s career.

That seminal setback has led to five surgeries on the same knee; counting playoff opportunities, Bakhtiari has missed 45 games since the December 2020 injury. He was on the field for one contest last season, and although the longtime Green Bay left tackle did not put retirement in play when he went down last season, he will soon no longer be attached to the lucrative extension signed midway through the 2020 campaign.

The Packers are expected to release Bakhtiari soon, The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman notes (subscription required). Labeling the matter a formality, the Green Bay Press Gazette’s Ryan Wood also points to this release transpiring.

The Packers can save nearly $21MM by cutting the 11-year veteran. He is set to count a team-high $40MM against the Packers’ cap this year. One season remains on Bakhtiari’s contract. None of his remaining salary is guaranteed, though the Packers have more than $19MM in deferred signing bonus set to represent dead money if/when the former fourth-round pick is cut.

Prior to Bakhtiari going down with the ACL tear, the Packers gave him a four-year, $92MM extension. That deal came to pass six weeks before the injury, representing important timing on Bakhtiari’s part. While both the tackles who signed record-setting extensions during that 2020 season — Bakhtiari, Ronnie Stanley — have run into recurring injury trouble since, the elder of the two blockers has been unable to string together a steady batch of starts since going down.

A reasonable “what if?” exists surrounding Bakhtiari’s injury. The Packers obtained the NFC’s No. 1 seed in 2020 but saw Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul tee off on their tackles in a narrow NFC championship game loss. The Barrett-JPP second-half sack spree protected Tom Brady, who threw three second-half INTs in the narrow Buccaneers win. While it is reasonable to suggest the Packers venture to Super Bowl LV if Bakhtiari was available, that quickly devolved into a missed opportunity. By the point the five-time All-Pro was ready to play regularly again, the Packers were no longer at that level. They finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs during the 2022 slate, which featured 11 Bakhtiari outings.

Bakhtiari played well when on the field in 2022, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 overall tackle. More knee trouble and an appendectomy sidelined him for six contests that season, which came after a 2021 campaign included only 27 Bakhtiari snaps. Last season, the 32-year-old blocker played in Week 1 but soon needed the above-referenced fifth knee procedure. Matt LaFleur said Bakhtiari experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee before Week 2, and’s Rob Demovsky indicates training camp remains the goal for the injury-prone veteran.

After Elgton Jenkins suffered a torn ACL when filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle in 2021, the team settled on seventh-round pick Rasheed Walker as the veteran’s primary replacement last season. The 2022 draftee made 15 starts and was the team’s blind-sider in both playoff games. Barring an offseason upgrade effort, Walker would go into the ’24 season as one of the many rookie-contract starters on Green Bay’s offense.

As for Bakhtiari, the Jets being the team to give him a bounce-back opportunity seems logical. Rodgers wields considerable influence with the AFC East club, and the four-time MVP has been connected to wanting to bring his longtime LT to the Big Apple. The Jets would probably prefer a more stable option, given Mekhi Becton‘s injury-plagued tenure. The team is not viewed as overly interested in re-signing Becton, however, and Rodgers certainly drove personnel moves last year. It will be interesting to see if Rodgers pushes hard for the Jets to sign Bakhtiari at a significantly reduced rate — compared to his Packers deal, at least — once his Wisconsin tenure wraps.

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