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Packers stocking up on receivers; David Bakhtiari assumes leadership role

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

Depth at wide receiver was an issue for the Green Bay Packers even before free-agent addition Devin Funchess chose to opt out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns.

General manager Brian Gutekunst has been busy restocking the shelves and added his second wide receiver in three days by signing free agent Malik Turner on Wednesday.

To make room for Turner, the team released undrafted rookie safety Frankie Griffin.

Malik Turner catches a first-quarter touchdown pass for Seattle in 2019. The free agent joined the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday.

Turner, 24, was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois in 2018 who signed with the Seattle Seahawks. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound receiver appeared in 21 career games for the Seahawks, catching 17 passes for 265 yards and one score.

He played 27 snaps against the Packers in the Seahawks’ 28-23 divisional round loss at Lambeau Field last season and had a costly drop. He played nine offensive snaps against the Packers in 2018.

On Monday, the Packers claimed former Detroit Lions receiver Travis Fulgham, who is 6-feet-2 and 215 pounds and was a sixth-round pick of the Lions out of Old Dominion last year. He played in three games and did not catch a pass. 

Bakhtiari accepts leadership role

Left tackle David Bakhtiari came into the league as a fourth-round pick in 2013 and has started from day one, logging 106 games protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. Entering his eighth season, he has been an All-Pro four times and named to the Pro Bowl twice. Yet in that time, he has never considered himself the “go-to” member of the offensive line. First it was tenured guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. Then it was right tackle Bryan Bulaga. But with Bulaga’s departure this offseason via free agency, it leaves Bakhtiari and guard Lane Taylor as the elder statesmen in terms of tenure with the Packers.

It’s a leadership role the 28-year-old says he’s ready to embrace.

“When I came in here I was a fourth-rounder and I knew my place was ‘speak when spoken to and talk with my actions, not with my words,’” Bakhtiari said. “That’s what I wanted to prove to my teammates. I never wanted to lead from the back end with my mouth, I wanted to lead with my actions in the front. You know the type of characters that I wanted into in the room in 2013. There was no chance that I would ever out-character them, and I knew – I had in mind – that I was going to follow in line until it was time. So my biggest thing is never stepping on anyone’s toes regardless of where I ascend to. So this personality you’re seeing more and more that comes out – even with Bryan here, I wanted it to be known to him right away that, ‘You’re the leader of the offensive line room regardless of the accolades that have come my way and whatever you say I have your back on.’

“So with that as I’ve grown and shown, I have then now spoken more. I think that comes back to when I was a rookie, Clay Matthews said to me, ‘The better you play, the more you can talk.’ I took that literal and I took it to heart.”