Packers should offer Kenny Clark new contract sooner than later

Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers shouldn’t leave it too long to offer Kenny Clark a contract extension.

Kenny Clark is one of the most important players for the Green Bay Packers on defense. And still just 23 years old, they’ll want to ensure he’s part of their long-term plans and under contract for at least another six or seven years.

Clark was originally set to become a free agent in 2020 once his rookie deal was up, but the Packers wisely exercised his fifth-year option, giving them an additional season before having to agree to a long-term deal.

But the Packers don’t want to leave it too late and run the risk of losing him. And the longer it goes, the more a future deal will rise in price.

Last week, Grady Jarrett signed a new four-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons, a deal worth $68 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Clark should expect a similar deal in the near future, and possibly even more as the salary cap and contract values continue to rise around the NFL.

Clark has improved in each of his three seasons with the Packers. His sack total has gone up in every season, and the same goes for quarterback hits and solo tackles. Tough for any offensive lineman to cover, Clark’s interior pass rush makes him a great fit in Mike Pettine’s system.

Had Jarrett not agreed a long-term deal with the Falcons and hit free agency next offseason, he may have landed a bigger deal elsewhere. There will be similar demand for Clark, who could become one of the best defensive tackles in football over the next couple of years.

Time is still on the Packers’ side, and cap room is tight currently with just over $8.5 million remaining for 2019 following their free agency spending, according to Over The Cap.

And it becomes further complicated with the likes of Blake Martinez, Mike Daniels and Kyler Fackrell all becoming free agents in 2020.

But considering just how important Clark is to this team, the Packers should offer him a long-term extension sooner rather than later, and perhaps even by the end of 2019. If his contract goes into its final year, Clark may decide to test the market or force the Packers to use the franchise tag.

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At some point this year, the Packers should seriously consider making Clark a long-term contract offer.