The Green Bay Packers are 3-4 in the 2022 NFL season. The underwhelming performance by the team so far has created a scenario where it’s possible for the team to be sellers, and not buyers, at the trade deadline next Tuesday. And if that’s the way general manager Brian Gutekunst decides to operate, he may opt to move away players who won’t probably be part of the future — or players that won’t play long enough to still be effective pieces of the roster when the rebuilding is complete.
Those considerations make left tackle David Bakhtiari a tradable piece. But is it feasible? Let’s analyze the situation from different angles.
The first point is why would the Packers trade Bakhtiari. And the idea is predicated on the Packers doing a self aware evaluation that this version of the roster isn’t good enough to compete. If that’s the case, Bakhtiari is 31 years old, has a severe injury history that still bothers him, and there’s a real possibility that the Packers will release him next March not to pay him a $ 10.1 million roster bonus. Moreover, the roster has options. Elgton Jenkins, Yosh Nijman, and rookie Zach Tom have all started games at left tackle, and all of them with some degree of success. If the Packers think Tom can be the future at left tackle, it makes sense to move on from Bakhtiari as soon as possible.
Bakhtiari has a low base salary, because the Packers restructured his deal in the offseason to open up cap space this year. It makes his contract movable, but at the same time the Packers will have to absorb a dead money hit anyway. This season, the cap savings would be insignificant, and there would still be dead money left in 2023. However, the cap savings are $ 6 million in 2023 and almost $ 33 million in 2024. For a potential rebuilding team, this amount of money makes a real difference.
For any potential acquiring team, it’s also a decent contract, because the Packers would absorb a huge chunk of it. Let’s use the Los Angeles Rams as an example, because they have a clear need at the position. They would need to pay him just $ 622,222 this season, the weekly veteran minimum’s base salary for the last 10 weeks of the season. For the two following seasons, the price tag would jump to around $ 20 million, but there would be no guarantees left, so the acquiring team could renegotiate the deal or simply release Bakhtiari.
If Bakhtiari is traded on Tuesday’s deadline:
For the Packers
Dead money: $ 12.8 million
Cap savings: $ 622,222
Dead money: $ 23.13 million
Cap savings: $ 5.93 million
Dead money: $ 0
Cap savings: $ 32.96 million
For the acquiring team
2022: $ 622,222 (guaranteed)
2023: $ 17.5 million (non-guaranteed)
2024: $ 21.4 million (non-guaranteed)
Health and performance considerations
The knee situation is obviously an important aspect of the situation — and it’s impossible for outside people to know exactly how it is. Bakhtiari has played four games this season, but most of the time alternating drives with backup Yosh Nijman. Last week, the left tackle practiced all three days, but felt uncomfortable on Saturday and was added to the injury report. He ended up not facing the Washington Commanders, which forced the Packers to play rookie Zach Tom for the first time.
For starters, the Packers wouldn’t trade Bakhtiari if he was fully healthy, so the knee injury is a component to make it happen. On the other hand, it’s also a reason for any team to be scared, to not make the deal at all, or at least not to pay a full price tag for a former All-Pro tackle.
We don’t have a complete idea of how it would work, but a team like the Rams, that’s playing Alaric Jackson at left tackle and doesn’t seem to care about draft picks, would benefit from paying a second or third-rounder, for example, to have David Bakhtiari for five or six games — Bakhtiari is still a good player when active, especially as a pass blocker.
It’s impossible to know exactly how the market would see Bakhtiari, and probably any acquiring team would want to add conditionals to a trade, which would be fair. Therefore, if the Packers are willing to think about the future, a trade based on the number of games Bakhtiari will be active for the acquiring team is a decent solution for everyone involved. For Green Bay, it would give them time to analyze potential long-term replacements, financial flexibility and extra draft capital to start the rebuilding process.