Last week defensive tackle Kenny Clark and the Green Bay Packers agreed to a contract extension. It was an extension that was well overdue. At only 24 years old, Clark has become one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL. But Russ Ball, who heads up contract negotiations for the Packers, can’t stop with the Clark extension. It is imperative that Ball gets a contract extension done for standout left tackle David Bakhtiari as well.
Green Bay Packers Should Put a Rush on David Bakhtiari and his Contract Extension
Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson still takes some heat from so-called Packers fans. They believe that Thompson didn’t do enough to surround franchise leader Aaron Rodgers with enough proven talent. Their argument has some legitimacy to it. Thompson and his stubbornness to fully embrace free agency did hinder the Packers. But for those “fans” that can’t acknowledge he did more good than bad for the Packers roster, well, they aren’t very knowledgeable.
If you look at the current Packers roster, Thompson’s fingerprints are all over it. Clark, top wide receiver Davante Adams, starting center Corey Linsley, and last season’s offensive MVP Aaron Jones are all picks by Thompson. In fact, the players that are still on the Packers who Thompson have drafted out shadow anyone current Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has selected so far.
Of course, Rodgers is Thompson’s most famous, and best selection. It was a selection that took guts since Brett Favre was still the Packers starting quarterback when Thompson picked Rodgers. But right up with the selection of Rodgers, the selection of David Bakhtiari was just as important for Thompson’s legacy.
Protector of Aaron Rodgers and his Blindside
In the 2013 NFL draft, Thompson selected David Bakhtiari in the fourth round, 109th overall. Thompson saw something in the former University of Colorado product, but it is doubtful that he even knew how successful David Bakhtiari would become.
When Bryan Bulaga, who was pegged to be the starting left tackle in 2013, went down with a season-ending knee injury in training camp, Bakhtiari stepped in and hasn’t looked back. Since stepping in as the starting left tackle his rookie season, Bakhtiari has started 106 games. Over that time, he has thrived at protecting Rodgers’s blindside.
His play has earned him quite a few accolades. He has been voted to the Pro Bowl twice (2016, 2019), first-team All-Pro once (2018), and second-team All-Pro three times (2016, 2017, 2019).
The accolades are just a portion of why Ball and the Packers need to rush to lock up David Bakhtiari to an extension. At only 28 years old, he still has a lot of good football in front of him. Left offensive tackles who have achieved so much and only being 28 years old is quite a rarity.
Leader of the Offensive Line
David Bakhtiari isn’t just the Packers’ best offensive lineman, but he is the unit’s leader. Bakhtiari learned to be a leader by playing with veterans like Bulaga, TJ Lang, and Josh Sitton. He is now trying to pass on that leadership.
Last season, he and rookie left guard Elgton Jenkins formed one of the best starting tackle-guard duos in the NFL. Bakhtiari’s leadership, and play, helped Jenkins and his maturation. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say Jenkins wouldn’t have been as successful if not for Bakhtiari.
Bakhtiari and his leadership not only will help out the young Packers offensive line, but also the Packers young offensive line coach. Adam Stenavich will be entering just his second season as the head offensive line coach. At only 37 years old, with only one year as the coach of the offensive line, Stenavich is a major benefactor of having a player like Bakhtiari be a part of his unit.
This past draft, the Packers selected three offensive linemen, Jon Runyan (6th round), Jake Hanson (6th round), and Simon Stepaniak (7th round). The leadership of Bakhtiari should benefit all three of the rookie offensive linemen.
But leadership is just a fraction of why the Packers need to lock up him up to an extension. More than ever, the Packers need David Bakhtiari.
Depth Behind David Bakhtiari is a Major Dropoff
Quality starting offensive tackles are hard to come by in the NFL. That position requires a player who is big but also very athletic. Starting offensive tackles, especially ones that play on the left side, must have ballerina type feet. That is because most of the time the best pass rushers on the defense line up against them.
Bakhtiari has those types of intangibles. But behind him, there isn’t one to be found. Last season, the Packers had Jared Veldheer to backup Bulaga and would have stepped in for Bakhtiari if necessary. This season, with Gutekunst choosing to not re-sign Veldheer, the Packers don’t have that luxury. It appears that the top backup to Bakhtiari would be Alex Light. Light saw some time last season but was ineffective. That is why it is curious about why Gutekunst chose not to look for a top backup this past off-season. But with such little depth, having a happy Bakhtiari locked up seems pretty important at this point.
Aaron Rodgers’ career is now in the back nine. But unlike what some so-called experts have said, he still has a lot of good football in him. But for the Packers to get that out of him, he is going to need to be protected. That is why the Packers need, now and for the foreseeable future, David Bakhtiari. If Kenny Clark was listed as number one on who to lock up to an extension, Bakhtiari was close behind at 1A. The time has come to lock up Bakhtiari to a new deal.
Embed from Getty Images