Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari has clarity on the knee issue that’s been plaguing him for several years now, but fixing it will knock him out for the remainder of the year.
Bakhtiari, who Green Bay placed on injured reserve on Sept. 28, confirmed Friday he is out for the season and will undergo surgery to repair a cartilage issue with his lateral femur.
The surgery, which the three-time Pro Bowler said will follow one done last week to “clean out and address what we’re going to do,” is intended to stop the fluid buildup and pain Bakhtiari has been contending with since tearing his ACL in practice on Dec. 31, 2020. The goal after the procedure is to be ready for training camp in 2024.
It’s the latest setback in a long line for Bakhtiari, who has played in just 13 games since his original injury, with just one appearance apiece in 2021 and 2023.
“When it rains it pours, and for me it’s been a pretty significant storm,” he said, walking reporters through everything in the Packers’ locker room for over 35 minutes.
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Bakhtiari revealed that doctors knew there was cartilage damage at the end of his femur at the time of his initial ACL tear, but there was a possibility that he might not be affected by it at all.
A series of other knee scopes and medical issues — including an appendectomy last December — delayed pinpointing that his pain and frequent fluid buildup was, in fact, due to the surface of his femur not being “smooth.”
“We knew about the issue when it had happened,” Bakhtiari said. “And the whole goal was, well, let’s even see if you’re a symptomatic individual. You could easily not. There’s plenty of individuals, a lot of other football players that have this, and they’re totally fine.
“When they realized, OK, clearly this what is creating our problem. We can definitely say it wasn’t the other things now that we’ve cleaned those out. OK, now this is where we are currently at.”
Bakhtiari did not reveal when he would have the upcoming surgery done, but he was candid about most every other detail of his recovery battle, describing his knee as feeling like “sandpaper” and saying he’s broken records for having fluid drained.
“It’s unfortunate. I hate it,” he said. “I know the club hates it. It’s just not a great situation anyone to deal with. The human side of it is, it took a lot of stress, a lot of time on my end, but the clarity is to know that we finally know what the problem is and we can address the problem. That’s the glass half-full part of the scenario.”
While the next steps for fixing his bothersome knee are clear, his future with Green Bay is as murky as Bakhtiari’s week-to-week status has so often been in the years post-injury.
When healthy, Bakhtiari is among the best left tackles in the NFL. That was even on display in Week 1 against the Bears, when he had an 89.9 PFF pass blocking grade while allowing zero sacks or pressures. But his cap hit jumps from $21.2 million to $40.5 million next year, and even at $19 million, his dead cap will be the lowest it’s been since he signed his extension just a month before the ACL injury.
The Packers, who roster one of the youngest teams in the league, will have a decision to make next year as they continue building for the new future under Jordan Love.
Bakhtiari, 32, understands that.
“I think everything is on the table like I said earlier,” he told reporters. “For me, I can only control what I can control. Making sure I attack the rehab, win the day, take the bites out of that elephant, finish the elephant and then decide and see. They have decisions they need to make, what’s best for their franchise. I understood that the moment I got in here.”
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