Packers Face Tough Call Between Cutting or Extending $70 Million Pro Bowler

Getty Defensive tackle Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl contenders heading into 2024, but there is one contract situation the team must address to maximize its window and create the space to extend quarterback Jordan Love on the kind of contract he’s going to command.

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark is entering the final season of a four-year, $70 million deal and carries a salary cap hit of almost $27.5 million in 2024. The Packers could better utilize that cap space to either pay Love or add to positions of need on the roster this summer.

Justis Mosqueda of SB Nation’s Acme Packing Co. on May 11 outlined the “interesting decision” the Packers face when it comes to Clark, who is an important piece of their defensive front and graded out well-above average as an interior defender relative to his NFL counterparts in 2023 (32nd out of 130 qualifying players, per Pro Football Focus).

Green Bay has an interesting decision to make. Once inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell’s contract comes off of the Packers’ books on June 1st, the easiest way for the team to create cap space — either for a Love extension or to allow them to dabble in the veteran trade market — is to rework Clark’s contract to lower his cap hit, which likely means an extension for the former first-round pick.

Pay attention to what the Packers do with Clark’s deal this summer. Green Bay is going to pay Love. They are going to find a way to do that. Whether they can find common ground with Clark on an extension, though, will decide a lot about the 2024 Packers’ cap situation and the 2025 Packers’ offseason needs.

Green Bay Has 3 Paths to Choose From for DT Kenny Clark

Kenny Clark

GettyGreen Bay Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark.

Green Bay has three paths forward where Clark is concerned. By extending him, the team keeps a quality starter on the roster and cuts down what is, by far, the largest hit on its cap sheet this season. That is probably the ideal outcome for both sides, depending on the details of a new deal — years, guaranteed money, etc.

A second path, which Mosqueda notes, is simply letting Clark play out his deal. That choice would result in unrestricted free agency for the DT in March 2025, as well as a $13.75 million cap hit for the Packers next season based on the void years remaining on Clark’s contract — a considerably less positive outcome for Green Bay depending, once again, on what an extension might look like.

Finally, the Packers could release Clark with a post-June 1 designation. Doing so would save Green Bay $17 million against the cap and result in a dead money payment of roughly $10.5 million, per Over The Cap. The Packers would also save $8.25 million against the cap in 2025 and owe approximately $5.5 million in dead money that year due to the move.

Packers Can Try to Replace Kenny Clark With Karl Brooks, Colby Wooden

Kenny Clark Injury Update

GettyDefensive tackle Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers.

While the third path would save Green Bay the most money in the immediate, it would also mean a departure of the team’s starting right defensive tackle, who is a three-time Pro Bowler and most recently earned those honors after the 2023 season.

If the Packers believe in Karl Brooks or Colby Wooden, both second-year players in 2024, enough to add one to the starting lineup alongside T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt then moving on from Clark becomes an easier decision.

Brooks played 380 snaps across 17 appearances for Green Bay’s defense last season, while Wooden saw 255 defensive snaps in the 17 regular-season games he played for the Packers as a rookie.

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