Packers GM on keeping LT David Bakhtiari in 2023: ‘I would hope so’

While the epicenter of another Green Bay Packers’ offseason is Aaron Rodgers, general manager Brian Gutekunst must make difficult decisions on several other important players.

When it comes to David Bakhtiari’s future with the team, the decision appears to have already been made.

“I would hope so,” Gutekunst answered when asked if Bakhtiari will be the Packers’ left tackle in 2023.

Gutekunst’s affirmative answer aligns with Matt LaFleur’s desire to have Bakhtiari back next season.

The five-time All-Pro is under contract in 2023, but Bakhtiari’s cap hit balloons from $13.8 million in 2022 to $28.9 million in 2023. He also turns 32 years old in September, and three surgeries completed in 18 months on his knee provide an obvious injury red flag.

But Gutekunst and the Packers are feeling more and more confident about his long-term availability.

“I think we’re hopeful that he’s kind of cleared some of those injury hurdles that he had the last few years,” Gutekunst said. “He got into a really good rhythm of learning what he needed to practice to get to the games, and I’m hopeful as we get beyond this season that rhythm will serve him well as we go forward.”

There’s little doubt that Bakhtiari can still play at an elite level; he gave up just 10 total pressures (zero sacks) over 11 games in 2022.

The Packers were 4-7 and averaged 21.5 points per game in games Bakhtiari started.

If Bakhtiari stays, the Packers will almost certainly have to adjust his contract in some way to help alleviate stress on the cap in 2023.

Bakhtiari has a $9.5 million roster bonus that could be turned into a signing bonus – and prorated over the rest of the contract, possibly with void years tacked on – to help save money next year. The Packers asking for some kind of pay cut is another possible avenue, although there’s always risk in hurting a relationship with a player.

Cutting Bakhtiari and saving the money on the cap this year without future cap strain is an option, especially given the emergence of rookie Zach Tom as a viable left tackle in 2022. The Packers don’t appear to be considering it to open the offseason.

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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire