David Bakhtiari's criteria for next team could foreshadow contract with Chiefs

If Bakhtiari is really insistent on what he says he wants, there's only one team that makes any sense.
Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

It feels like we'll all look back at season's end and realize this was a marriage waiting to happen all along—the one that feels telegraphed at this point between the Kansas City Chiefs and free agent left tackle David Bakhtiari.

For those just tuning in, Bakhtiari is a veteran left tackle who, when healthy, can play with the best in the business. The problem is that he's rarely upright. Since suffering a serious knee injury late in the 2020 season, Bakhtiari has given the Green Bay Packers a real challenge when it comes to roster planning—with five subsequent surgeries since that has limited him to 13 total games in three seasons.

Last season, Bakhtiari played in one game before shutting things down yet again—the same thing that happened in 2021, the year following the initial injury.

Given this history, why would anyone assume there's a future in pro football for Bakhtiari? Because he says he's made very real progress after taking last season off. And as he proved in 2022 when he started 11 games for the Packers, Bakhtiari is still one of the NFL's best left tackles when he's on the field.

Bakhtiari's criteria for his new team

What does this mean for the Chiefs? Looking at multiple factors, it feels like a golden opportunity for general manager Brett Veach. It also sounds like Bakhtiari likes the idea, too.

That's Bakhtiari in an interview with ESPN reporter Adam Schefter talking about the progress of his recovery and his hopes for next season. And in case it's not clear what he says there, you can read the key quote below:

"When people do ask me, I do always tell them… They’re like, ‘Where are you going to play? Where do you want to play next?’ I want to play with the next Super Bowl MVP. So whoever the hell that’s going to be. I better be with him. They’ll ask, ‘Do you want to play with this player or that player…?’ I just want to be with the next Super Bowl MVP. That’s it."

At this point, two starting quarterbacks in the NFL have won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award: Aaron Rodgers, who was Bakhtiari's former teammate at the time, and Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback also happens to have won 3 of the last 5 MVP awards in the biggest game on the NFL's calendar.

That's the full list. While it's possible that another great quarterback like Josh Allen or Joe Burrow or Lamar Jackson might make it there someday, the truth is that it's all conjecture. Only Mahomes can point to a trophy cabinet and recall such moments with first-hand experience.

Why the Chiefs should like Bakhtiari

Just because Bakhtiari wants to play for a Super Bowl contender doesn't mean something will happen with the Chiefs. After all, every NFL player would likely give a similar quote, but Bakhtiari is actually a puzzle piece that fits quite well within the Chiefs' bigger picture.

First, it's important to note that the Chiefs did this one year ago with Donovan Smith. While Smith had a better track record of being healthy, he was also coming off of a season affected by an early elbow injury. Even more, Smith's ceiling has never been that of Bakhtiari's, so the upside play here is better than last year.

The Chiefs signed Smith because they had a rookie in Wanya Morris, taken in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and the tandem carried them through a long and grueling season to win their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Coming into this year, the Chiefs have Morris back with another rookie in second round pick Kingsley Suamataia and the assumption has been that Andy Reid will let the youngsters compete up front. But Suamataia was considered more of a raw prospect coming out of BYU, and for a team chasing a three-peat, a potential dash of veteran help isn't the worst idea.

Depending on the finances involved, the Chiefs also seem to have the cap space necessary for a signing. Smith cost the Chiefs a one-year, $9 million deal, but anything with Bakhtiari's name on it will be filled with incentives that won't count against the cap considering it's easy to build a case for the Chiefs that any such achievements woudn't be expected—termed as "Not Likely To Be Earned" in contractual language.

The Bottom Line

Brett Veach loves a good upside play for pennies on the dollar and David Bakhtiari represents just that at a key point in the summer. The former Packers vet needs time to continue to get healthy while the Chiefs can pit their younger options agaisnt each other through the spring and summer. But when it comes down to it, grabbing a former five-time All-Pro who is motivated for another Super Bowl ring sounds like the right kind of signing at a position that's still fuzzy up front.