David Bakhtiari's Packers Contract Bonus Converted Amid J.J. Watt Buzz

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIFebruary 13, 2021

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (69) in action during an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec 19. 2020, between the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers created $8.3 million in cap space by converting the roster bonus owed to left tackle David Bakhtiari into a signing bonus spread out over the length of his contract, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Saturday. 

The move comes amid speculation about the team's interest in free agent J.J. Watt—a Wisconsin native who was granted his full release by the Houston Texans on Friday. 

Bakhtiari's bonus was set at more than $11 million. 

According to Spotrac, the Packers were slated to begin free agency nearly $22 million over the salary cap. Bakhtiari's restructured bonus has that overage down to about $14 million. 

The left tackle suffered a season-ending knee injury before the playoffs and was already the second-highest-paid player ($23 million per year) in Green Bay behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million per year).

The Packers also have impending free agents in center Corey Linsley, guard Lane Taylor and defensive tackle Damon Harrison as well as running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. The Green Bay cap crunch was already an issue before Watt became available. 

Watt's preferred destination remains unknown. 

According to ESPN's Ed Werder, approximately 12 teams have already reached out to Watt's camp since his release with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans among the franchises hoping to land the five-time All-Pro.