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Green and Bold: David Bakhtiari Could Stay Put for a Long Time

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Green and Bold: David Bakhtiari Could Stay Put for a Long Time

When the Packers traded up to draft offensive tackle Jason Spriggs with the 48th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, many people mentally plugged him into the Packers' starting left tackle spot for the 2017 season. 

After all, current starting right tackle David Bakhtiari, whom the Packers selected in the fourth round in 2013, is only under contract through the 2016 season. In March, he will become a 25-year-old free agent and, if allowed to walk, would likely net the Packers a considerable compensatory pick for the following draft. 

If the Packers did want to re-sign Bakhtiari, it would likely come at considerable cost, given that guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton will also be entering free agency.

If the team didn't have three of its five starters staring down free agency, re-signing Bakhtiari would be a no-brainer; as things stand, Ted Thompson has some shrewd bookkeeping and negotiating to do. 

According to Over the Cap, the Packers currently have $8.8 million in available cap space after signing their rookies. That money could go toward extending Bakhtiari, Lang or Sitton, but it won't get them very far. 

Still, while it's a general manager's job to keep the salary cap in good shape, it's a head coach's job to put the best players on the field. These directives are often at odds with one another, but part of the reason the Packers have enjoyed such success under Thompson and Mike McCarthy is that they are often able to keep their best players without sacrificing the cap. 

All that is to say that if McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen decide following the 2016-17 season that Bakhtiari is without a doubt the best option at left tackle—rather than promoting Spriggs or, say, sliding Bryan Bulaga over to the left side and plugging Spriggs in at right tackle—that gives Thompson direction for his and Vice President of Football Administration/Player Finance Russ Ball's offseason contract negotiations, if Bakhtiari remains unsigned at that time. 

And heading into the regular season, all indications are that Bakhtiari will not make this decision an easy one on the front office.

To take nothing away from Spriggs, who has earned the No. 2 spot on the depth chart at left tackle and who will provide invaluable depth to the Packers this season, Bakhtiari is proving why the Packers might miss his services in the future if he's allowed to walk in free agency. 

The Journal Sentinel staff compiled stats on the seven one-on-one pass rush drills of training camp open to the media, as shared by Bob McGinn on Tuesday. How well did Bakhtiari do?

"David Bakhtiari was more than just hard to beat in the one-on-one pass rush drill," McGinn wrote. "He was impossible to beat." 

Bakhtiari was 12-0 in the one-on-one sessions, which, according to the Journal Sentinel staff, makes him only the third offensive lineman to be perfect in such drills since 2008. Bakhtiari went 19-4-5 in 2013, 7-4-2  in 2014. and 5-4-1 in 2015.

Expectations weren't high for Bakhtiari in 2013, when he was propelled into the starting job following Bulaga's ACL tear. While he performed admirably for a rookie who wasn't supposed to start, he had an objectively good season the following year. Then, an ankle injury marred the end of his 2015 season, bringing us to where we are today. 

If Bakhtiari isn't solid this season—it's not unfair to expect the best season of his career to date from him—Thompson's decision will become an easy one, with Spriggs waiting in the wings.

But if Bakhtiari does indeed put together a great 2016 season, don't assume the Packers will part with him just because of contract considerations and the fact that they traded up for Spriggs. 

At least in the preseason, Bakhtiari is certainly putting together some of the most impressive play of his career. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

I hate to say it, but given the option, TT always goes young. Always.

IMO the only way Bakh is on the team next year is if he plays lights out and TT manages to trade Bulaga so Spriggs can play RT. That's the only way.

Chad Lundberg's picture

I'm really glad people are noticing this. David put on a lot of weight this summer, and the aforementioned 12-0 drill gives good reason to believe he could be on the verge of becoming a top performer.

I would like however to point out that everyone is jumping the gun a bit. The Salary cap is expected to increase by 10 million next year, in addition to Julius Peppers leaving, those two factors alone would leave the Packers with considerable cap space. Maybe we still can't keep everyone, but J.C. Tretter hasn't done anything yet, Josh Sitton is slightly declining and only getting older, and David Bakhtiari even if he has a good year, isn't going to be able to demand 12 million a year, even Randall Cobb and Mike Daniels were unable to get that much.

Let's see what happens first before we decide they're all leaving.

Bearmeat's picture

Top LTs make more than top Slot WRs and top Interior DL's. With the cap going up that much, if Bakh has a great year, he could command 12 mil a year on the open market.

Nick Perry's picture

This one is hard to call IMO. Does Thompson splurge on a LT and lose the other 3, or perhaps sign Lang and Tretter or any other combination of the other 3 Free Agents O-Linemen?

Personally I'd rather Tretter and Lang for example than throw a ton of Money at Bakhtiari and lose both my Guards and top reserve lineman.

I listened to Sitton on ESPN with "Wilde & Taush" and Sitton didn't want to talk about Free Agency (No Surprise) but for some reason the little he said left me with the feeling there would be no "Hometown Discount".

Obviously there will be several other Free Agents TT has to think about. Lacy, Perry, and Jones to name a few. That's one reason why I feel this team will be so successful this season. Could be the last year for a lot of these guys to play together including getting a ring for Peppers!

John Galt III's picture

Good analysis - I am optimistic for 1st time since we won SB against the Steelers.

Bearmeat's picture

I would personally be shocked if Sitton is still a GBP in 2017. Everything about his current situation screams "Comp pick" to me with TT as the GM. Age, injury history, performance history.

Lang is less certain. Tretter even less so. Assuming all play well, I think the liklihood of OL being resigned is:

1. Tretter (Cs are cheap relatively)
2. Lang - Getting up there at OG, but not OLD.
3. Bakh - Age is great. But he'll be $$$
4. Sitton - He Gone.

lucky953's picture

It's pretty common wisdom that LT is one of the premier positions- that's why they're paid like that, right? Bahktiari is proving he can play at a high level. So, y'all are recommending we get rid of an ascending player at a premier position because we can't pay him? I think that's misguided. What has Spriggs proven? Nothing. Bahktiari is more valuable than Sitton or Lang if he plays at an elite level this year. He's only 25. Please consider how difficult it is to find a really good LT. Spriggs can backup both tackle positions for a couple of years, at least until Bulaga's contract runs out. I agree that Sitton is GONE: age, injuries, and someone will overpay him. Also, there may be more than money involved for Bahktiari. Why do you think Daniels signed early for less money than he could have gotten on the open market? Would you leave a Super Bowl contending team willing to pay you 10-11 million a year for a losing team that'll pay you 12? Maybe if you're heading into your last contract, on your way out of the league. We'll see, but if Bahk performs sign him early for a fair price, let Sitton go, sign Tretter (because he has upside and versatility) and see what's left for Lang.

stockholder's picture

I think if Bakh stays unbeaten and has his best year. TT pays him. LTs are just to hard to find. The guy that is getting slower is Bulaga. Tretter, Sitton, and Lang, must show they can stay healthy with no decline. I'm expecting some changes at guard and RT.

Nick Perry's picture

I didn't think Bulaga looked very good at all against the 49ers last weekend. Carridine seemed to be kinda having his way with him for much of the time Bulaga was in.

stockholder's picture

Bulaga is Definitely in a decline. I saw it last year. He's Just not moving well, and late. (Knees? ) I figured TT would take a RT in the 3rd round. And I thought Spriggs would play RT first. But looks like they want Spriggs to move around. Like the options.

mrtundra's picture

Bakh is there to protect Rodgers. Maybe we should ask Rodgers how he'd feel if Bakh were let go. I do not relish TT's job in this matter. I think Bulaga may be gone with Spriggs replacing him.

Tundraboy's picture

I think so too.

dobber's picture

Why would a GM ask personnel which personnel to keep? If the GM and staff can't make that decision on their own, they need to find new day jobs.

RCPackerFan's picture

Typically Thompson plans ahead with positions during the draft. A few years ago he drafted Cobb essentially to replace Jennings. He drafted Rollins to replace Hayward. Did he draft Spriggs to replace Bakhtiari?

I think he did. Knowing the amount of money it would take to retain Bakhtiari, I think they are going to get Spriggs ready this year and replace Bakhtiari with him next year.

If they let Bakhtiari go that would likely mean that they would have a better chance to resign Sitton, Lang, Tretter, Lacy, Cook, Perry, Jones.

I'm not saying they won't resign him, but I think the writing is on the wall that they are preparing to let him go if the price gets to high.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

So Bakh is good at pass pro when healthy. Nothing new there. How's his run blocking?

Much depends on how Spriggs looks, and whether he gets a chance to play, and to a lesser extent, on how Murphy looks. At this point, we don't know how much better Bakh is than Spriggs will be. I am pretty sure that if Sitton and/or Lang leave, we will be considerably worse off at OG, even if TT plugs Tretter or Linsley in to replace one of the guards.

Agree with Nick above: 2016 is a bit of a window for real success year as the OL is unlikely to be as good next year, and some other FA exits might weaken the team. Hope TT's drafts come through!

Turophile's picture

Historically, the Packers do not have run blocking as a high priority for their LTs. Think how long Chad Clifton held down the LT spot. He was a premier pass protector, but never did much in the run game.

It will be the same with Bakhtiari, if he is good enough in pass pro, that is what matters to the coaches. That boils down to saying if Bakhtiari goes, it will be down to money, not how good he is at run blocking.

Also, those looking and hoping for a significant 'hometown discount' are likely to be disappointed. This is the big contract time for him and he is still young, with many of the O line guys around him changing soon (making it less likely to get what I call a stay with friends, or familiarity discount). He will have to be offered close to market price to stay.

Rustyweezee's picture

A team doesn't trade up in the 2nd round to draft a player who'll provide invaluable depth, that kind of move in the draft means they assume they're getting a starter. The offensive line contract situation and salary cap does indeed mean they're going to have tough decisions. I think the Lane Taylor contract shows us that at least one of Sitton and Lang are leaving. JC Tretter will be given a starting center sized contract by someone other than the Packers. Could the Packers sign Bakhtiari and one of the guards? Sure, but Bulaga's contract runs through 2019, meaning they've got two starters and a high draft pick at tackle. It's more than possible that either Spriggs or Bulaga could be moved inside to guard. After all, they'd be going into the 2017 season with Taylor and an aging lineman at guards, probably not ideal. Or they could let both Sitton & Lang go, and play Spriggs inside with Lane while looking to the 2017 draft for another future starting guard. It also saves toward the cap for Lacy or a 2018 expiring contract guy like Ha-ha Clinton-Dix. It all gets too deep in a hurry, but that's Ted Thompson's playground. I'm betting he already knows what his plan for the offensive line is.

croatpackfan's picture

I will say only few remarks - In TT we trust! I like David, I think he has good personality. He is better in running game than last season, he mastered pass protection. If he can give "Hometown" discount, he will stay with the team. Only question is what are David's intention? To stay in Green Bay or to earn little bit more money somewhere else. I think that is where the line will be drawn...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

We keep talking about Sitton and Lang as Free Agents but I don't think that affects the cap very much at all. Sitton already makes 6.75 mil and Lang makes 5 mil. Those two are not going to see big raises. Sitton probably no raise and Lang maybe 1-1.5 million per year. SO the only guy who is going to get paid more is Bahk, and he's just a average LT. So I would expect something like 8-9 million per year on a 4 year deal for Bahk. The Packers can certainly swing that later in the season if he is healthy.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

No way, that's what the Elite Left Tackles get. I was being nice ranking him as average. In truth he is in the number 15-25 range depending on what you value.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Bahk is not in Armsteads class although I'd be happy to see him make that jump.

Since '61's picture

Performance and injuries will obviously play a part in who stays and who goes on the OL at the end of this season. But if there is one consistency with TT it is that he tries to retain his younger players. To me that means he will try to keep Bakh and Tretter unless their prices become unreasonable. Tretter can play any position on the OL so he has value for for TT and MM. Bakh is still young enough to sign him to a 3-4 year deal. I can see an OL of Bakh, Tretter, Linsley, Taylor/Barclay and Bulaga/Spriggs. Maybe they keep Patrick as a backup guard. Remember that Barclay has played center also. Obviously anything can happen. For now I'm focusing on this season and will worry about the OL signings when the time comes. Go Pack Go ! Thanks, Since '61

L's picture

I've said it too that if Bakh puts together a solid season that I don't see the Packers simply letting him walk away without at least putting an offer out there for him. They may not resign him, but they'll make some sort of effort.

sheppercheeser's picture

Boy, how can we re-sign Barclay and then talk about letting Bakh walk? Like Ma said, "life ain't fair." If David holds GB up for ransom-money, TT might let him go, but barring that, AR will blow in Teddie's ear and get DB back in the fold.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Ohhhhhhh

MarkinMadison's picture

Bakh is probably going to command more than $10M/yr. There are already 1/2 dozen guys making that kind of money. The cap is going up. Bakh was already a top-15 performer last year at LT, maybe top-10 according to some. He's young, and his rookie contract was low. I just don't see anyway you sign him for less than $10M/yr unless he gets injured or completely regresses.

Do you sign him? I think you do if he can keep #12 clean in the passing game. #12 is getting older and you have to protect him as best you can. But that is what I would do, not what TT would do.

What flows from that? First, Spriggs is probably playing RT next year. Second, Bulaga is either released or he is sliding in to play guard. If all of that sounds too crazy then the only conclusion you are left with is that TT has decided that Bakh is going to be allowed to walk, plain and simple.

MarkinMadison's picture

I have a hard time disagreeing with you. It just seems so unusual for TT to let a prime 25-year-old player walk away from the Packers. And then you will have to go through growing pains with Spriggs next year in one of #12's remaining prime years. It is a damn tough call.

dobber's picture

#12 is perennially one of the most-sacked QBs in the league. I think that will continue to be true whether Bakhtiari is protecting his backside or someone else.

dobber's picture

Even if Peppers is coming off the rolls next year, how many players can you afford to write $10+M checks to annually and still field a deep and contending team? TT seems to always have a price point in mind for his players and he doesn't move off that easily. Sometimes we think it's too high...sometimes it seems like we're trying to get the home-town discount.

If I were Bakhtiari, and I'm having a really good camp, I know that Spriggs is in the wings. Unless TT blows me away with an offer early, I'm fully planning to test the FA waters. People have pointed to his 1-on-1 record in camp, but, his achilles heel has always been power rushers, not speed guys. In 12 reps, who is he lining up against who would really exploit that?

Don't get me wrong, I think Bakhtiari gets more out of what he has than most players do. I think he could be a very good OLT for the Packers for some time. But is he worth what it's going to take to sign him, knowing that you have a very similar player in Spriggs--who will have a year with an NFL nutritionist and in the weight room under his belt by next summer--waiting in the wings?

EddieLee's picture

Remember, Peppers deal is taking $10.5 in cap space this year. That won't exist next year and that goes a long way towards a new deal towards someone. If you look at history, TT will extend a guy during the season with remaining cap space in a year one cap friendly deal and address others after the season with pay as you go deals.

The TKstinator's picture

OMG: A negative take.
Wow.
Just wow.

al bundy's picture

I'm shocked. Datone and Perry the bust brothers did t get past him? Better not expect much and I dont on our OLB play this year.

4thand1's picture

2 posts in a row that suck. Consider the sources. Actually 3 out of 4

4thand1's picture

The cap era. No fun.

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