The Green Bay Packers have one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL in five-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari, but the mystery surrounding his absence in Week 2 has yet to be answered.
Despite playing essentially a full game without any limitations in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, Bakhtiari was inactive on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in a 24-25 loss. The 31-year-old has been on and off the field dating back to last season as he has been recovering from a torn ACL that cost him almost the entire 2021 season, and while he as looked fully healthy when on the field, Bakhtiari has been a surprise inactive multiple times since returning in 2022.
One theory that has been floated about Bakhtiari's absence is the fear of playing on turf fields. The Packers left tackle has been a vocal critic of the NFL and its use of turf fields across the league, and since his ACL injury he has only played on one turf field in Week 8 of last season against the Buffalo Bills.
That theory was given even more credibility this past week, with Bakhtiari sitting out in Atlanta, where the Mercedes-Benz Stadium uses FieldTurf, the same kind of field that Aaron Rodgers played on for four snaps at MetLife Stadium before suffering a torn achilles in Week 1.
However, when Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about Bakhtiari's absence on Sunday, he quickly shut down the idea that his left tackle being inactive was related to the field.
"No. We all know that Dave's been dealing with this, and so, no," LaFleur said in the post-game press conference. When the Packers head coach was asked a follow-up question about his left tackle, he once again quickly shut it down.
"You guys, I'm not going to get into that. We all know this has been two years now, so I'm not going to get into it. It's probably going to be like this from here on out."
Despite LaFleur claiming that Bakhtiari's absence wasn't turf-related, the data suggests otherwise. Still, regardless of the theories as to why the 31-year-old hasn't been 100 percent available, the questions have to be asked about why he hasn't been able to be on the field on a consistent basis.
Bakhtiari is still in the middle of a four-year, $92 million contract extension that makes him the fourth-highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. Acme Packing Company editor Justis Mosqueda calculated that since signing that mammoth extension, Bakhtiari has earned a whopping $80,000 per snap, which would be far and away the highest mark for any player in the league, regardless of position.
He's made like $80,000 a snap (a snap!) since signing his extension. I believe it is fair to ask him to play turf games or fine him
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) September 17, 2023
Regardless of whether or not he's healthy, Packers fans are understandably frustrated simply because of the lack of information surrounding Bakhtiari's availability. The All-Pro tackle hasn't been a full participant in practice in months, and while LaFleur continues to shut down any questions about his left tackle's health, there haven't been any concrete answers as to why his availability continues to be up in the air nearly three years after his ACL injury first occurred.
When he's on the field, David Bakhtiari is still an elite, world-class left tackle that deserves every penny of his contract. Still, Packers fans are just wanting answers as to why one of the most talented players on their roster isn't a sure thing to play on any given week.
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