The Green Bay Packers received devastating news ahead of their season finale against the Chicago Bears.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday afternoon that Pro Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice, according to an informed source. Rapoport added that the injury is believed to be a torn ACL.
Rapoport also noted that the team could look to Elgton Jenkins, right tackle Billy Turner and Rick Wagner to fill the massive void in the lineup created by Bakhtiari's absence.
Aside from the obvious short-term ramifications, the news undoubtedly impacts the long-term outlook for a player who recently became the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history and a club with deep postseason aspirations.
According to Pro Fooball Focus, Bakhtiari played 758 snaps in 2020 and registered just four penalties while allowing one sack. It's worth noting he accomplished this despite missing Weeks 7-9 due to a chest injury.
For his effort, Bakhtiari earned his fourth Pro Bowl nod a little more than a month after signing a four-year extension worth up to $105.5M.
The numbers, as impressive as they may be, tell only part of Bakhtiari's importance to one of the NFL's most reliable O-lines. His energy and passion have been instrumental in aiding his group's goal of protecting Aaron Rodgers, who shares a close bond with his blindside protector both on and off the field.
The 37-year-old MVP candidate has managed to stay relatively upright throughout the season, taking just 19 sacks through 15 games.
With one of its most important emotional leaders on the sidelines, Green Bay will be forced to make adjustments for Week 17 and beyond.
A win on Sunday would grant the Packers a first-round bye and, in turn, some extra time to determine the best fill-in for the talented 29-year-old.