David Bakhtiari 'on schedule' for a return in 2024, report says; social media speculates where former Packers left tackle will play

When David Bakhtiari addressed the media in the Green Bay locker room in October after having season-ending surgery, he vowed that it wouldn't be the last time he played.

He wanted to go out on his terms.

Bakhtiari apparently could get that chance, even through his future in the NFL is still uncertain — he's without a team after the Packers released him in March.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport tweeted on Tuesday that Bakhtiari had a "positive follow-up exam" with Dr. Brian Cole and that the left tackle is "on schedule" for a return in the 2024 season.

Cole is a renowned sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and a professor of orthopaedics, anatomy and cell biology at Rush University Medical Center in Oak Park, Illinois. He specializes in cartilage restoration, orthobiologics and minimally invasive surgical techniques for treatments on knees, elbows and shoulders.

"Wishing you continued success on your recovery. Keep up the great work!" Cole wrote on Instagram in reply to Bakhtiari sharing Rapoport's tweet.

Rapoport's tweet sounded promising but there are no guarantees. Bakhtiari and the Packers never could have imagined all the setbacks he has endured since first tearing his ACL during practice on Dec. 31, 2020.

TIMELINE: Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari's injury history after he tore his ACL in December 2020

He has missed 44 of the Packers' next 57 games over the last three seasons and had to endure many subsequent surgeries.

Bakhtiari started the Packers' season opener last year but didn't play another game. But Bakhtiari was confident that doctors now knew the cause of the fluid buildup in his knee and ongoing pain.

Bakhtiari is a five-time All-Pro and was one of the best in the game at his position for years. But will a team take a chance on a player coming off several surgeries and in his age 33 season?

It didn't take long for NFL fans to clamor for Bakhtiari to be anchoring their team's offensive line.

Ahh, yes. The New York Jets, Aaron Rodgers' team.

Would the Jets actually sign Bakhtiari, who is close friends with Rodgers?

It doesn't seem likely at first glance. However, if last year taught us anything the Jets love ex-Packers who have a relationship with Rodgers.

That said, the Jets added eight-time Pro Bowl and five-time All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith in the offseason to address their offensive line issues. Smith spent the first 13 years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

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Rodgers just threw a ton of praise toward Smith at a news conference during OTAs on Tuesday while also poking fun at Bakhtiari.

"I’ve been a fan of his for a long time," Rodgers said of Smith. "He’s a Hall of Fame player. He’s a specimen. He’s a big, strong man. Not a fat man, either, like D. Bahk, you know, who I’ve had in the past, put some weight around the mid-section. Tyron, he's pretty chiseled."

That comment from Rodgers about Bakhtiari got a laugh from former Packers tight end and fellow Kentucky Derby squad member Jimmy Graham. It also led to a reaction from Bakhtiari's brother, Eric, and Bakhtiari himself.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Twitter speculates where David Bakhtiari could play in 2024 season