Rashan Gary is set to cash in big time.
ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler, who was first to report that the Packers picked up Gary’s fifth-year option, noted it will be in the $10.9 million to $11.7 million range, “depending on playing time.”
The 12th overall pick for Green Bay in 2019 out of the University of Michigan, Gary is entering the fourth season of his rookie deal. If he continues playing the way he has, he’ll be next in line for a hefty contract extension — and one salary cap expert has predicted he’ll break six figures.
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Gary Had Breakout Season in 2021
Gary has played in 47 games for the Packers, starting 20, racking up 16.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, 42 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss in that span — but it’s what he did in the wake of Za’Darius Smith’s injury last year that really stands out.
Per Pro Football Focus, Gary had 56 hurries, 15 QB hits and a whopping 81 pressures in 681 total snaps, virtually living in opponents’ backfields in 2021. He has shown improvements in each of his three seasons, as his overall grade from PFF has risen every year. He earned a 54.1 mark as a rookie, a 67.1 mark in 2020 and a career-high 89.3 grade last season.
“Gary has a case for being the breakout player of the 2021 season, as his staggering 81 quarterback pressures in 2021 ranked second among edge defenders,” Brad Spielberger wrote for ESPN on May 25. “When accounting for snaps played, Gary’s 18.4% pressure percentage narrowly outpaced Maxx Crosby for the top mark of the season.”
Spielberger, who is also a salary cap analyst for Over the Cap, wrote that Gary is about to cash in — especially if he has another strong season in 2022.
Gary Predicted to Sign 5-Year, $130 Million Deal
“Gary has put everything together from a skill standpoint, and the sky is truly the limit. He has yet to play 700 snaps in a season, as he started his career working behind Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, but with Za’Darius now on the Minnesota Vikings, Gary should be the focal point of the Packers’ front seven,” Spielberger noted, adding it might be smarter for the Pack to start negotiating with the 24-year-old pass rusher before the 2022 season even begins, as it could ultimately be cheaper.
“With the money cleared up from trading Davante Adams, they could explore a multi-year deal before Gary repeats his 2021 performance and asks for the moon in negotiations,” he added.
Noting the “Packers typically don’t guarantee any money outside of signing bonuses for non-quarterbacks,” Spielberger predicted Gary will sign a five-year contract extension worth $130 million ($26 million per year), with $45 million guaranteed.
If he can stay healthy and in top form, Gary is set to join a growing list of recently paid Green Bay defenders, including Jaire Alexander (four years, $84 million), Preston Smith (four years, $52.5 million and De’Vondre Campbell (five years, $50 million).
The Packers currently have just over $17 million in salary cap space, per Over the Cap, and they have shown they have zero problem maneuvering the cap in order to keep their veterans around, so don’t be surprised if Gary winds up breaking the bank while also staying in Green Bay.