David Bakhtiari decision hangs over Packers' offensive line amid shift to Jordan Love
If the Packers and Jets drag on Aaron Rodgers trade negotiations beyond the April draft, Green Bay will be forced to make a David Bakktiari decision before a Rodgers one. Even with Rodgers, the only decision centers on how much compensation fits the player and his circumstance; Rodgers will never take another snap in Green Bay again. The Packers’ stalwart left tackle will play with Jordan Love this season, but the question of how far beyond this season looms over this draft with the potential for a high pick providing Brian Gutekunst a soft landing post-Bakhtiari.
Unlike his longtime pal, Bakhtiari has not yet agitated for a trade to the East Coast, though it’s early in the offseason. There’s plenty of time. Still, a restructured contract that pushes money into the 2024 season serves as a de facto guarantee Bakhtiari will be in Green Bay this season.
Kicking the Miller Lite can down the line sets Bakhtiari’s cap hit at a staggering $40.6 million next season. Cutting or trading him would save more than half that, but leaves over $19 million in dead money on the books. Restructuring his contract without void years could hint Bakhtiari wants the chance to pursue a chance to play with Rodgers, though they’re on very different tracts in their careers.
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The 39-year-old quarterback’s play declined significantly last season amid injury and he finished the year 90% sure he wanted to retire. Bakhtiari played like a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle (if you know you know) amid injury and will enter the ‘23 campaign a spry 31 years old. If he wants to play four or five more seasons, he could realistically achieve that goal. This is it for 12.
So, speaking of the end, let’s start at the end. Or at least the end of the upcoming season. What if the Packers are good? What if Jordan Love plays like a top-half quarterback and Green Bay’s defense gets a tick or two better, leading to a 10-win team and a postseason berth? That appears to be what Marky Murphy, Gutekunst, and Co. will be banking on in 2023. They’re going to Love specifically because they think he’s ready (and that it’s time to move on from Rodgers).