Did the Green Bay Packers back themselves into an inescapable corner by re-signing All-Pro offensive lineman David Bakhtiari? That’s what NFL salary cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap thinks.
On a recent episode of the Over the Cap podcast, Fitzgerald, who is also an expert contract evaluator, broke down why Green Bay locking up arguably the best left tackle in the league was the wrong move to make, and why it may cost them big-time in the future when it comes to re-signing the likes of All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams and breakout tight end Robert Tonyan, among others.
“When you look at them salary cap-wise, they’re not in a really good spot,” Fitzgerald said on his pod, noting later on Twitter that “the Packers gave themselves zero wiggle room once they did the Bakhtiari contract.” As a result, Green Bay is going to have some painful decisions to make in 2022, Fitzgerald says.
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Did the Pack Ink Bakhtiari too Early?
“You look at their [impending] free agents,” Fitzgerald said on the podcast. “Davante Adams is a free agent, he’s gonna cost a lot. Robert Tonyan’s a free agent. If he plays really well this year, he’s probably going to cost a pretty penny. You’ve got your cornerback … (Chandon) Sullivan is a free agent.”
Bakhtiari signed a four-year, $103.5 million contract with Green Bay last November, and many knew then that it could mean a huge cap crunch in the future. According to Fitzgerald, Green Bay should have waited until the season was over — or at least until after November — before moving to re-sign Bakhtiari in order to better let the market dictate what the Packers paid him.
“What they did with their left tackle really makes no sense. Is he a great player? Yeah, he’s a really good player. It’s the same thing with Trent Williams — only he’s younger than Trent Williams — but there’s no logical reason to be paying a left tackle $23 million dollars a season,” Fitzgerald added.
“And there’s certainly no need for it when your player is going to turn 30. Now, I know left tackles play a long time. We’re seeing guys in their late 30s playing on the offensive line, but there’s no reason to go that high.”
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Fitzgerald: ‘Green Bay Really Screwed This Up’
Using the $19.75 million per year contract offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an example of a high-value contract, Fitzgerald says paying $23 million a year to someone a few years younger might make more sense. But now, Bakhtiari has a concerning injury history on top of it all, and he’s going to be on the wrong side of 30 soon.
“Green Bay, they really screwed this up, because if they had waited — and one of the reasons they didn’t wait was because their salary cap was so bad this year so they knew they couldn’t really have him on the tag — had they waited, they would have seen those Stanley numbers come in, and it would have given them more of an argument if they wanted to fight on this.”
Bakhtiari has started 118 games since the Packers drafted him in 2013, but Fitzgerald does have a point about his age. The offensive lineman turns 30 in September, and while he is still in his prime, it’s fair to wonder how much longer that will last. Re-signing Bakhtiari at such a high cost could also mean Green Bay won’t be able to afford Adams, who is 28-years-old and is likely going to ask for more money than the $27.25 million a year top-paid wideout DeAndre Hopkins is making with the Arizona Cardinals.
“How, if you’re Davante Adams, are you not asking for $28.25 million on a legitimate four-year contract extension,?” Fitzgerald asked, and other cap analysts agree with him:
Over $27.5M per year for Davante whewwwww https://t.co/kaH5sFl2Xc
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) May 11, 2021
Fitzgerald suggested Adams might have been the better player for the Packers to invest in fiscally, and the emergence of Tonyan, whose 11 touchdown receptions last year were tied for the league-lead at the position, is also important to consider. The primary issue, Fitzgerald says, was Green Bay shelling out too much money to Bakhtiari when the team might have been able to wait a bit and pay him several million less.
Of course, from a player’s perspective, the Packers absolutely did the right thing by re-signing their stalwart left tackle. Bakhtiari tore his ACL during a freak play at practice shortly after attaining financial security late last season, missing the playoffs. When he’ll return is yet unknown, but he has undoubtedly been a core member of the team and a primary reason for its recent success. Time will tell whether his contract will be as crippling to the Packers as Fitzgerald seems to think it will be.
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