I’m sure most Packers fans, like me, were a bit surprised to see former 4th-Round pick David Bakhtiari receive what was initially reported as a 4 year, $51.7 million extension earlier this week. My initial reaction was that it was way too much money for a guy who will probably never be a top-5 Left Tackle, but I wanted to wait before writing any hot takes, knowing that player agents are typically the ones who leak contract numbers, and thus they are often a bit inflated. Of course, this was the case for D-Bakh’s deal.
Now that the official numbers are out, they are a bit more palatable for those Packer fans who, like me, lie awake at night mapping out the future of the team’s salary cap. The deal should really be considered a 5 year contract, as 4 years were added to the end of his rookie deal, with a total value of $49.7 million after removing Pro Bowl bonus incentives. Viewed this way, the contract is no longer among the top-5 in the NFL among Offensive Linemen, which always seemed like a stretch for Bakhtiari.
The yearly cap hits also show that, although this contract is a major vote of confidence in Bakhtiari, this is still something of a ‘show-me’ deal. The cap hits are light at $4 million and $6 million in the first two years, respectively, before jumping to $11.2 million in 2018. The contract also includes a $6 million roster bonus in 2018, paid if he is on the roster on the 5th day of the league year in Spring 2018.
So, if Bakhtiari does not continue to elevate his play in the next two years, the Packers might decide to part ways with him at that point. If, however, he remains on the roster, then the Packers will be fully committed to Bakhtiari as Aaron Rodgers’ LT for the better part of the rest of his career. Salary cap charges in 2019 and 2020 are $14.2 million each.
The Packers clearly believe Bakhtiari is, if not a top-5 LT, just below that level. Further, his value to the Packers is also bound to be higher than it would be to another team because of who he protects (you wouldn’t pay Bakhtiari $49 million to protect Blaine Gabbert). The Packers are riding with Bakhtiari as far as he will allow Rodgers to carry the team. Hopefully he will be worth the investment.