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Packers 2022 Salary Cap Crunch: Tweaking David Bakhtiari’s deal frees up an easy $6.3M

Bakhtiari will get a big check a few days early, while the Packers free up about 1/8 of the money they need to get under the 2022 cap. This move should be a question of when, not if.

NFL: DEC 25 Browns at Packers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the latest article in a series of posts that will examine veteran players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster who are candidates for a contract restructure or outright release due to salary cap considerations. We continue today with a look at a clear option on David Bakhtiari’s contract.

Between now and March 16th, the Green Bay Packers need to shave about $51 million in salary cap charges off of their books. The team must be beneath the 2022 cap of $208.2 million by the time the league year begins at 4:00 PM Eastern Time on that date, and they will likely perform as many contract adjustments as it takes to get there while keeping the team together as best as possible.

One player whose contract adjustment is clear to see is left tackle David Bakhtiari. The All-Pro missed all but one game in the 2021 season while rehabilitating his torn ACL and dealing with complications from multiple surgeries, but he should hopefully be fully ready to go for the 2022 campaign. Bakhtiari signed a new four-year contract extension late in the 2020 season, which will keep him on the Packers’ books through 2024.

Here’s a look at the easy pathway that the Packers will have to free up over $6 million in salary cap space with a simple contract adjustment for Bakhtiari.

Existing Contract

2022

Base salary: $3.2 million
Roster bonus: $9.5 million (due March 20)
Per-game active roster bonuses: $600,000 total (cap hit of $35,294 due to playing 1 game in 2021)
Workout bonus: $700,000
Prorated signing bonus cap hit: $8,768,014

Total cap hit: $22,203,308

2023

Base salary: $3.2 million
Roster bonus: $9.5 million (due March 20)
Per-game active roster bonuses: $600,000 total
Workout bonus: $700,000
Prorated signing bonus cap hit: $8,768,014

Total cap hit: $26,268,014

2024

Base salary: $20.2 million
Per-game active roster bonuses: $600,000 total
Workout bonus: $700,000
Prorated signing bonus cap hit: $8,768,014

Total cap hit: $30,268,017

Contract details from Overthecap.com.


How to Restructure

The Packers have a ready-made contract restructure based on Bakhtiari’s compensation package for 2022. The team is due to pay him a $9.5 million roster bonus a few days after the league year begins. Converting this into a signing bonus and paying him that check a week early — any time before March 16th — will spread that bonus out across the remaining three years of his contract.

The $9.5 million will be divided evenly, shifting $3.17 million of his cap hit into 2023 for a total of $29.434 million and another $3.17 million into 2024 to make his final year’s cap hit $33.434 million. Although those numbers are significant, the Packers currently hold some of the most projected cap space in 2023 and 2024 of any team in the NFL. Additionally, if the Packers want to keep kicking the can down the road, they could do the same type of restructure next season for Bakhtiari, as he has an identical roster bonus of $9.5 million next season that they could split in half across 2023 and 2024.

For 2022, this move has the upshot of freeing up $6.33 million in cap space instantly, shifting it into future years. The only other impact to the team is writing that $9.5 million check a few days earlier, which has no bearing on the team’s finances in any other way.

With the Packers needing to cut about $51 million off the cap by mid-March, they can get about one-eighth of the way there with this simple move. Look for that to be one of the first and easiest decisions the team makes this offseason as they work towards getting under the cap in the coming weeks.