Earlier this week, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was asked if left tackle David Bakhtiari — who was recently placed on injured reserve — was going to be out for the remainder of the regular season with his knee injury. LaFleur told the media that Bakhtiari wanted to make his own statement to the press about the subject, which the bookend finally did on Friday.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Kassidy Hill, Bakhtiari stated that playing this year “is no longer a possibility” and that his focus has now shifted to the 2024 season.
Previously, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had reported that Bakhtiari, who was placed on the injured reserve last Thursday, had a scope on his knee last Wednesday. That first surgery was a precursor to a second surgery, which is expected to fix the cartilage issue that has been giving Bakhtiari’s knee troubles for well over a year.
Rapoport also mentioned that Bakhtiari’s hope is to play for the Packers in 2024, as “he does not want to retire.” That reporting appears to be true, as Bakhtiari is already talking about suiting up next season.
The biggest hurdle for the Bakhtiari and Packers relationship will come down to dollars and cents. Bakhtiari, who will take home $71 million of his $92 million, four-year contract extension by the time the 2023 season is over, has played just 13 games since his 2020 ACL tear. Next year, due to all of the salary conversions that have pushed cap hits into the future, Bakhtiari’s cap hit to remain on the roster will be $40.7 million — the highest mark in the league for any non-quarterback.
At a minimum, the Packers are on the hook for a $19.07 million cap charge if Bakhtiari is released, simply due to the salary conversion accounting. On top of that is the $21.4 million he’s set to earn in base salary, roster bonuses and workout bonuses. In March, Bakhtiari is scheduled to make $9.5 million in the form of a roster bonus. In all likelihood, Bakhtiari will be rehabbing from his knee surgery at that time, which gives him an opportunity to be due that money via an injury grievance even if the Packers did wish to turn the page on the saga.
Bakhtiari wants to keep playing football, so he’s going to make a lot of money doing so next year and have an even higher cap hit on the 2024 squad. Hopefully, Bakhtiari can return to full health next season, for both the Packers’ sake and Bakhtiari’s.