The talk of which side has the leverage in the seemingly never-ending Aaron Rodgers trade negotiations produces wide-ranging opinions on both sides. Green Bay Packers two-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is also one of Rodgers' closest friends in the NFL, thinks the trade will get done at exactly the right time, before the 2023 NFL Draft.
"I think that has probably been put to rest," Bakhtiari said on Barstool Sports' "Bussin With The Boys" podcast. "Could the Packers be really good? Yeah, I certainly hope so and would love that, but also I would be ignorant to not say that this looks like a rebuild. I think the most simple thing is they'll [the Packers] get whatever picks they wanted, they'll get it before the draft, and then time will show us. He's going to be a Jet."
However, he also believes the Packers could very well blow up the deal if they don't get the compensation they're looking for entering what he described as a "rebuild."
"The Packers are rebuilding whether you think so or not," Bakhtiari said. "[People will say] 'Could they be good, I don't know.' More people are going to think they're [the Packers] going to be more bad than good, right? That's fair to say. Then, they'll [the Packers] will say 'We're going to suck anyways, we want what we want, and we're not going to bend to anyone, so we'll just eat it [Aaron Rodgers' contract]. Stay unretired, we'll pay you [Rodgers]. We don't care because if we're going to do it our way, it's going to be on our terms. If not, what we're going to be Super Bowl contenders anyways? We'll eat it, you [Rodgers] can hang on the side, pay you [Rodgers] your money, we'll suck anyways, and get the [high draft] picks."
The reason Bakhtiari feels like Green Bay has to operate with that nuclear button in their back pocket is because the way this trade goes down will have a long-lasting impact on general manager Brian Gutekunst's legacy and job security.
"As compared to dealing him [Rodgers] for something that you shouldn't have, you [general manager Brian Gutekunst] could potentially look like an idiot to not only the [team] president and the board but to everyone else around the league, thinking in the GM's perspective," Bakhtiari continued. "[Could] put yourself on the hot seat and potentially have your job come called into question. I look at all these ways you can deal it. I don't think it'd get that contentious. I do think they'll [the Jets and Packers] probably come to an agreement. He'll get traded, they'll [the Packers] get what they want and then time will probably say who won what. I think that [holding on to Rodgers and his contract] could be a third option if things got so bad. If the Jets say 'no we want this because we know we're going to get him,' he [Rodgers] could end up somewhere else."
This trade has a personal significance for the left tackle off the field as much as on it does on it because Rodgers represents one of Bakhtiari's best friends. He gifted Rodgers a golf cart in 2020, and the two regularly rode it to and from practice. In the end, Bakhtiari makes it very clear to all of his Packers teammates that what happens to them personally is more important than their time alongside him in Green Bay.
"Yes, 100% yes," Bakhtiari said when asked about being super close with Rodgers. "On the other hand, things come and go in our careers. ... It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when [players get cut or moved]. I started accepting that years ago. Aaron of course is the most untouchable person, but I know it's going to happen at some point. I'm like 'dude, go get yours.' I will never be jaded by your business decision because I will always care more about Aaron than I do 12 for the Green Bay Packers. Go do your thing man.
"I've said that to all my teammates once I understood that back when [offensive lineman] Josh Sitton got cut [in 2016]. He was my left guard. ... It happens dude. I've told guys, 'go get yours.' I would be more jaded if they took less money because they felt like they had to stay with their guys. I'm still going to like you no matter what. I've said that to [wide receiver] Davante [Adams], I've said that to [center] Corey [Linsley], and I even said that to [guard] Elgton [Jenkins] coming up. Go do what's best for you. Take the emotion and friendship stuff out it, it's a business."
For the sake of all parties involved, the last week of April will hopefully be the last time leverage and potential trade packages for Rodgers are discussed with a deal being finalized ahead of the draft's first round on April 27.