Green Bay Packers GM Says the Team is Looking to Extend This Key Player

The Green Bay Packers have already made several big moves this offseason and we know there are more to come. Earlier this week, GM Brian Gutekunst hinted that the team is not only trying to extend quarterback Jordan Love, but they are negotiating to extend a key defensive player.

Fans React To Kenny Clark Helping The NFC Win The Pro Bowl

The Defensive Player the Packers Are Looking to Extend

Gutekunst indicated the team was looking to sign defensive lineman Kenny Clark to a new deal. The 2024 campaign will be the final season on his current contract.

Clark has played eight seasons for the Packers since the team selected him in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The former UCLA star has earned a trip to the Pro Bowl three times in his career including the 2023 season.

Although he has played eight seasons in the NFL, Clark remains relatively young for someone who has played professional football for that long. He is 28 years old and won’t turn 29 until October.

The Role Kenny Clark Plays on the Team

Clark started his career as a nose tackle in the Packers three-man defensive front. He was one of only a handful of interior defensive linemen in the NFL who could both stop the run and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Since the Packers added T.J. Slaton, Clark has moved off the nose. The result has been increased pass rushing opportunities and the ability for Clark to move around the formation to create more favorable matchups.

Clark enjoyed his most productive season last year. He recorded a career-high 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. He also knocked down three passes and forced two fumbles. Clark also tied his career-high with nine tackles for loss.

Throughout most of his career, Clark has been the best defensive lineman on the team. Finally, in 2023, he had a stronger supporting cast with Slaton and Devonte Wyatt starting alongside him. Rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks provided good depth.

Changes Ahead for the Player the Packers Are Looking to Extend

The Packers defense has changes coming in 2024. The team fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry at the conclusion of last season after his defenses struggled to play to their potential. They replaced him with former Boston College coach, Jeff Hafley.

Hafley intends to change the Green Bay defense to a four-man front. The team has never played that formation as their base defense since Clark joined the Packers in 2016.

Once again, Clark will be expected to lead the defensive front even as the players adjust to the new defensive system.

The Benefits and Risks of Signing Clark to an Extension

The benefits of signing Clark to an extension are obvious. The Packers would be keeping their best defensive lineman beyond 2024. Clark also provides the team with leadership in the locker room and is one of the most experienced players on a young roster.

The Packers will also be able to reduce Clark’s cap hit for 2024 if they wish to. As of now, Clark is scheduled to carry a cap hit of nearly $27.5 million. The Packers could reduce that by a few million dollars depending on how they structure the extension and when it’s signed. That money could help pay Love or add additional talent to the roster by helping the team sign another free agent.

The potential drawbacks include the potential dead cap money the team could face down the road when they choose to part ways with Clark.

While interior defensive linemen can play into their 30s without seeing a significant drop in their play, we all know Father Time will catch up with Clark eventually. When will his play fall off to the point where he becomes a liability against the cap?

Gutekunst has indicated the team wants to re-sign Clark. The move makes sense assuming the deal is structured properly and gives the team flexibility down the road.

Clark has certainly earned an extension. While the Packers could still select an interior defensive lineman during the early rounds of the draft, it will take time for any player to adjust to the pro game and reach Clark’s level of play.

Look for an announcement from the Packers on Clark’s extension before the 2024 NFL season gets under way.

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