The Green Bay Packers will be without David Bakhtiari for the remainder of the 2023 NFL season. His surgically repaired left knee has developed a cartilage issue that requires a fifth surgery. Unfortunately, this means that Bakhtiari’s last game as a Packer may have already been played: Green Bay’s Week One win over the Chicago Bears.
Bakhtiari announced the unfortunate development in a 40-minute long interview with the media ahead of the Packers Week Five matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. Rasheed Walker, a 2022 seventh round NFL Draft pick, has been filling in for Bakhtiari at left tackle and will, presumably, continue to do so.
David Bakhtiari May Not Return to the Green Bay Packers
According to Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bakhtiari has no notion of what the Packers plan to do with him and his contract following the 2023 NFL season:
Every time he thought he had it in a good place the fluid and pain would come back. He said he fully expects to play next year, but said he doesn’t know what the #Packers plan to do. Said it would be addressed later. Surgery will be performed by Brian Cole in Chicago.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) October 6, 2023
Bakhtiari carries a cap hit of over $40 million in 2024, but a dead cap hit of “only” $19 million. Even if his knee did not act up again, it is highly unlikely that the Packers would have kept Bakhtiari beyond this season.
The former All-Pro left tackle told reporters that it is his intention to play in 2024, whether it is for the Packers or someone else. If it is for someone else, one former Packers quarterback has an idea of where it will be.
Kurt Benkert Predicts that David Bakhtiari Reunites with Aaron Rodgers on the New York Jets
When Aaron Rodgers was first traded to the New York Jets, there were many around the NFL who wondered if Bakhtiari might not follow. Of course, that did not end up happening, but former Packers quarterback Kurt Benkert sees a scenario in which it could in 2024:
Bakhtiari out for the year, plans to return in 2024.
My guess – in New York.
Double redemption tour for two old-pals. It’s all in the script. 📜
— Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert) October 6, 2023
When/if the Packers release Bakhtiari, he will be free to sign anywhere. As seen by the Jets’ signings of Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, and numerous other former Packers players, Rodgers carries a great deal of weight when it comes to personnel decisions.
It is very possible that Rodgers, who will be returning from a torn Achilles suffered in his Week One game against the Buffalo Bills, requests that the Jets get him his best friend from his Packers days to protect his blindside.
The Move Would Be a Huge Risk for the New York Jets
As mentioned, Rodgers tore his Achilles four snaps into his first season with the Jets. Despite the odds saying he will not fully recover from the injury, he plans to be back in 2024 and has not ruled out a return late in the 2023 season. Still, he will be 40 years old in December. The likelihood that he will ever be the same is not very good.
Similarly, there is no guarantee that Bakhtiari will ever stay healthy enough to play a full NFL season again. He could, and that is his goal, but it has been almost three years since his injury.
The fact of the matter is that whichever team Bakhtiari signs with, whether it be the Jets or someone else, is not going to offer him a big contract due to his injury history. And the Jets already have to worry about Rodgers’ long-term effectiveness.
To be sure, it would be a great story if they reunited, stayed healthy, and had a good season together like they used to in Green Bay.
It just isn’t likely.