The Green Bay Packers are in wait-and-see mode when it comes to left tackle David Bakhtiari. During his season-ending press conference on Thursday, general manager Brian Gutekunst stated that the team is still trying to determine how to move forward with Bakhtiari’s seemingly never-ending knee concerns.
“We’re still at the very beginning stages of looking at how we’re going to move forward with all that,” Gutekunst said. “Obviously, David has been through a really rough stretch with the injury stuff, and he’s going through a really major surgery trying to be able to get back and play. We’re monitoring that. I know he’s working his tail off. Once we get down the road and see where he’s at health-wise, we’ll make those decisions.”
The knee injury Bakhtiari suffered toward the end of the 2020 season turned into a complete nightmare. The five-time All-Pro has played in just 13 games over the past three seasons.
He appeared in just one game in 2023 before being placed on injured reserve. In October, Bakhtiari told reporters his season was over and he was scheduled to have his fifth surgery.
Despite such rotten injury luck, Bakhtiari plans to continue his football career and is rehabbing in hopes of returning to the field next year.
“He’s in the middle of it,” said Gutekunst. “This is not a short one; this is going to take some time. You guys know his work ethic and how important it is for him to get back playing. It was a tough one. He’s got a ways to go.”
Outside of his recovery, the Packers must also be concerned about Bakhtiari’s impact on the salary cap. In 2024, his cap number skyrockets to over $40 million. Green Bay could consider releasing Bakhtiari but would have to be willing to eat over $19 million in dead money due to past restructuring.
Fortunately, the team did find an alternative solution at left tackle during the season. Former seventh-rounder Rasheed Walker emerged as a formidable replacement for Bakhtiari, appearing in all 17 games, including 15 starts. Early on, Walker struggled to find consistency but played extremely well down the stretch, earning praise from the GM.
“I think he did a great job,” Gutekunst said. “You have to give the kid a lot of credit. First of all, his work ethic over the offseason and how tremendously he improved. He fought through some things this year injury-wise, he was a warrior out there. He’s done a great job, I’m really glad we have him. I think he can play left and right. We’ll see how it all shakes out…he did a lot of good things. He’s got a bright future, and he’s only going to get better. We’re excited about him.”
The jury is still out on Bakhtiari, but the Packers appear to have a solid backup plan in Walker.