It appears that Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari’s knee has indeed faced a significant setback. Bakhtiari was placed on the injured reserve on Thursday, leading up to the Packers’ game against the Detroit Lions. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, this is not expected to be a short-term IR stint, either.
Here’s my understanding of where this all stands. Sources say he had a knee scope yesterday. So, that was the first surgery. My understanding is that first surgery was a precursor to the second surgery, which should happen a little down the line here — a little more of a, I would say, substantial surgery, one aimed at fixing the cartilage issue that has plagued him for a little more than a year.
Bakhtiari is 31 years old. He’s coming into the final year of his contract. From what I am told, he does not want to retire. He wants to keep playing. He wants to keep playing for the Packers and these surgeries which will likely take him out the rest of this season, barring some significant development, are likely to put him on the field to start the 2024 football season.
From @NFLGameDay Kickoff: #Packers All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari was officially placed on Injured Reserve today following arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday, sources say. Another surgery is planned in the coming weeks, one aimed at allowing him to play at full strength in 2024. pic.twitter.com/uvfQQ8ZZOd— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2023
In the short-term, Bakhtiari should be replaced by second-year, seventh-round pick Rasheed Walker, who started at left tackle in Week 2 and Week 3 for Green Bay. Bakhtiari’s new setback appears to have occurred between Week 1 and Week 2, as the Packers’ game plan included Walker playing tight end in certain packages in Week 2 while he was also starting at left tackle. Due to Walker declaring as an eligible receiver on those plays at tight end, both he and Yosh Nijman had to rotate at the left tackle position. According to offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich, Walker received most of the snaps in the six offensive linemen looks during that week of practice, which suggests that the team assumed that Bakhtiari would be able to suit up against the Falcons that week. Walker did not play tight end in Week 3 against the Saints.
Bakhtiari signed a four-year, $92 million extension in 2020 that has paid him out $71 million of those dollars since just before his initial ACL tear. Since that injury, Bakhtiari has only played in 13 games for Green Bay, recording 679 offensive snaps for the team.
One of the big problems for the Packers moving forward is that they continued to push Bakhtiari’s cap hits forward, as they attempted to go “all in” on their final championship window with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center, which now means that Bakhtiari will have a $41 million cap hit in 2024. That cap hit would rank the eighth-highest among all NFL players next season and first among non-quarterbacks, per Spotrac.
According to cap expert Ken Ingalls, the Packers’ 2024 cap space will take on at least $19 million for Bakhtiari’s dead cap next season. Any salary that Bakhtiari makes will only be added on top of that number, should Green Bay keep him around. Per Ingalls, Bakhtiari could have a case for going after the $21.4 million in cash that he’s due in 2024, if he can’t pass a physical by the start of the new league year next season.
Here’s to hoping that Bakhtiari’s recovery goes well. If not, his deal will almost certainly go down as one of the worst contracts in NFL history.