NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles

The Packers made a move many knew was coming this offseason by releasing three-time Pro Bowl and two-time first-team All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari

Bakhtiari, the 32-year-old left tackle, has only played in 13 games since the start of the 2021 season, struggling to recover from tearing his ACL in practice on New Year's Eve in 2020 in the midst of his latest first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl season. Bakhtiari was named a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro (first or second team) every year from 2016-2020, and his three Pro Bowl selections are tied for the fourth-most by an offensive lineman in Green Bay Packers history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg (nine), Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Ringo (seven) and Gale Gillingham (five). He spent 11 seasons in Green Bay after being selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Colorado. 

In his only game played in 2023, the Packers' 38-20 Week 1 win at the Chicago Bears, Bakhtiari was perfect: he did not allow a sack, quarterback hit, quarterback hurry or a quarterback pressure in Jordan Love's debut as Green Bay's full-time starting quarterback.

"David is one of the best offensive linemen that has played in the NFL during my time in the league. His consistency and approach to his craft is unmatched," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said in a statement. "David's presence extended beyond his impact on the field, as he was a cornerstone of the Packers in the locker room when I arrived and was a great resource to our young team. We wish the best for David, his wife, Frankie, and their daughter, Felix, in the future."

Bakhtiari is working toward being ready to play in the 2024 season and not retire, according to NFL Media. He last played double-digit games in a season in 2022 when he played in 11 of Green Bay's 17 regular season contests.

The New York Jets seemed like an incredibly likely landing spot for the All-Pro. Bakhtiari was one of Aaron Rodgers' closest friends on the Packers as the two shared a golf cart they rode around on near and around Lambeau Field. Rodgers tweeted out a heart emoji after Bakhtiari posted his heartfelt goodbye to Green Bay. However, the Jets have since signed former Dallas Cowboys eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith to be their new left tackle, and they also traded for 10-year veteran Morgan Moses to be their new right tackle

Still, he could provide plenty of value to many teams around the NFL on a one-year prove-it deal. Let's take a look at a few of his potential landing spots. 

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are always kicking the can down the road with the salary cap by constantly restructuring contracts in pursuit of NFC South division titles. They are the type of team that would likely be open to taking a low-risk flier on Bakhtiari. 

Its 2022 first-round left tackle, Trevor Penning, hasn't worked out as planned. He had the 75th-highest Pro Football Focus offensive grade in 2023 (56.1) after allowing four sacks, three quarterback hits and 18 quarterback pressures in 2023. That's not great when your quarterback in Derek Carr struggles when pressured: his 39.6 passer rating when pressured ranked tied for 24th out of 32 qualified quarterbacks in 2023. 

At worst, Bakhtiari could provide a nice mentor for Penning, and that's it. Best case, he is healthy and his presence elevates the Saints offense by keep Carr out of situations in which his play is negatively affected. 

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys, as mentioned above, lost Tyron Smith. Picking up Bakhtiari could potentially allow Jerry and Stephen Jones to not feel like they are pigeonholed into drafting an offensive tackle in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. Bakhtiari played his first six seasons (2013-2018) under Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy when he was then the head coach of the Packers, so he could probably pick up Dallas' playbook easily. 

The Cowboys will definitely draft an offensive tackle at some point, like within the first three rounds of the draft, but Bakhtiari on a one-year deal could be a beneficial situation for all parties involved.

Cincinnati Bengals 

The Bengals have a massive problem with left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., whom they signed to a four-year, $64 million contract last offseason after he earned four consecutive Pro Bowl nods with the Kansas City Chiefs. His first season with Cincy was a total disaster as he led the NFL in quarterback pressures allowed with 54, one more than Cowboys right tackle Terence Steele's (53). Steele was returning from a torn ACL this past season. 

Bakhtiari could initially be a depth signing until he proves to be healthy. Then, if Brown struggles again in 2024, they could have him waiting in the wings to step in if necessary. Quarterback Joe Burrow's health is of the upmost importance, and with his injury history, protecting him with the kind of performance Brown had in 2023 simply won't cut it. 

New England Patriots

The Patriots have their right tackle spot locked down with Mike Onwenu re-signed to a three-year deal. However, they currently have 2017 sixth-round pick Conor McDermott lined up to be their left tackle in 2024. He is only one year younger than Bakhtiari, and he has never played the position as well as the former Packer. In 2023, his 69.9 PFF offensive grade ranked 42nd among NFL offensive tackles who played at least 100 snaps.

If Bakhtiari is healthy, he could potentially supplant McDermott as the starter for either Jacoby Brissett or a rookie if New England decides to select one with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.