What’s next for Green Bay Packers stars Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari?
They are two of the Packers’ most important players on offense, but they are both set for huge cap hits in 2023.
The Packers have many difficult decisions to make this offseason, including a long list of pending free agents. Then there is the uncertainty over Aaron Rodgers’ future and how that could impact Jordan Love.
But the Packers must also decide what’s next for Jones and Bakhtiari.
Note: All salary cap numbers in this article are according to Over The Cap.
2023 cap hit: $20.01 million
Potential cap savings: $10.46 million pre-June 1, $16 million post-June 1
Aaron Jones set a new career-best in rushing yards this season with 1,121. He has shown no signs of slowing down, putting up 1,516 all-purpose yards with seven touchdowns.
Jones was the Packers’ best player on offense this season.
However, it’s hard to ignore his contract. When he signed an extension in 2021, it was structured in a way that limited the cap number in the opening two years before it increased dramatically.
His past two cap hits were $4.46 million and $5.9 million. It’s almost four times higher in 2023 from this season.
The Packers could opt to move on. If they release Jones, they would save around half of his 2023 cap number, creating $10.46 million in cap space. However, they would still pay a dead cap hit of $9.55 million.
While they could restructure his deal, that would likely increase his 2024 cap hit, which isn’t an ideal outcome, either.
It leaves the Packers with a tough decision.
2023 cap hit: $29.07 million
Potential cap savings: $5.9 million pre-June 1, $17.5 million post-June 1
David Bakhtiari is set for Green Bay’s second-highest cap hit in 2023, around $2 million lower than Aaron Rodgers’ cap number.
Bakhtiari only featured in 11 games this season, but when he played, he was back to his All-Pro best. He is one of the league’s best left tackles and has been for a decade.
However, given the Packers’ lack of cap space, they may need to do something about Bakhtiari’s contract.
A restructure could help in the short term but could create more problems in the future. But for a player as important as Bakhtiari, making a move to keep him on the roster in 2023 could be worth it.
Another other option would be to release Bakhtiari post-June 1. It would create $17.5 million in cap space in 2023. Green Bay would pay dead cap hits of $11.57 million in 2023 and $11.57 million in 2024.
But that would mean losing their All-Pro left tackle.