GREEN BAY – Eight years ago, as the Packers were building their 2013 NFL Draft board, then-director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst took a trip to the University of Colorado-Boulder.
The Buffaloes were in midst of a rough season in which they'd win just a single game, but the Packers' future general manager wanted to perform his due diligence on Colorado's roster.
And on one player, in particular: junior left tackle David Bakhtiari.
"Talking to people there and asking general questions, 'Hey, who's your best player?' It was pretty unanimous that David was," Gutekunst said. "Then, when you watched him on an 0-7, 0-8 team at the time, the way he prepared and practiced, the way he worked, you knew there was something a little bit different about him."
On Sunday, following the Packers' 24-20 win over Jacksonville, Gutekunst recalled that story in a conversation with Bakhtiari, who had just signed a contract extension with the team around 11 p.m., roughly 13 hours before kickoff.
Since former Green Bay GM Ted Thompson drafted Bakhtiari in the fourth round (109th overall) back in 2013, he's developed into a linchpin on the Packers' offensive line and just the second Green Bay tackle in team history (Forrest Gregg, 1962-67) to earn AP All-Pro recognition in four consecutive seasons.
He's been the man responsible for protecting the blindside of future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the past seven years while becoming a respected voice inside the locker room.
Now the third-longest tenured player on the roster, Bakhtiari got emotional several times during his 16-minute Zoom call with reporters following the game, looking back on how he'd gotten to this point.
"I've told Russ (Ball), Gutey and Mark (Murphy) this – that I appreciate them taking a chance on me in '13 and drafting me in the fourth round and trusting me with the blind side," Bakhtiari said. "I do love it here, and I love representing the Packers.
"It's been a nice match and something that I don't want to look back at now, but later on in my life it's something special to say I spent this much time here. Not too many people in their professional career get to that long of a career in one area."
Bakhtiari said he had an idea the Packers and his agent, Mark Humenik, were closing in on an extension but didn't get confirmation until Humenik told him to call him after team meetings wrapped up on Saturday night.
Fittingly, the two sides came to an agreement prior to a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the same opponent the Packers were facing when Bakhtiari signed his last extension back in September 2016. That year then became the first of his four straight All-Pro nods (second team in '16, '17 and '19; first team in '18).
Rodgers, who referred to Bakhtiari as his "best friend" during his post-game news conference, said his longtime left tackle had kept him in the loop on where things stood and was overjoyed when he heard the news.
"Obviously wrapping him up seemed to be of some benefit to the organization long term, best left tackle in the game, future Hall of Famer, probably," Rodgers said. "Very happy for him. He's got a great woman he got engaged with and got a long-term extension that pays him the way he deserves to be paid. He's having a hell of a year, he's a special player and he's a great locker room guy."
There wasn't much time for fist pumps. Bakhtiari had work to do Sunday in his first game back since injuring his ribs last month at Tampa Bay.
Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers T David Bakhtiari through the years.
Bakhtiari said he played with extra padding and a flak jacket, but otherwise was cleared to go after missing three games. Having picked up the win, the Packers' seventh of the year, he said he planned to celebrate with his fiancé and their two dogs.
Still with "lofty, lofty goals," Bakhtiari is excited to begin the next chapter of his career with the team that took a chance on him seven years ago.
"I never really wanted to say that I get to be a Packer for life, but that is something that is really becoming true and I control that now to finish it out to stay in one spot," Bakhtiari said. "This place is very special to me, and I've given them all of me since Day 1. I would like to continue that, and like I've told them, they won't regret it. they didn't in '13, they didn't in 16', and they're not going to regret it in '20. And I'm going to own up to my end of the bargain."
Truth be told, Gutekunst smiles, the Packers had a much higher grade on Bakhtiari than the fourth round in 2013. Regardless of how Bakhtiari got to Green Bay, Gutekunst couldn't be happier to have the team's franchise left tackle in the fold long term.
"You gotta give a lot of credit to Dave and the work ethic, and what he's done, not only to become the player he's become but to stay out there," Gutekunst said. "It was good to get him back tonight, and it's good to have him for the next four years."