Green Bay Packers: Predicting Kenny Clark’s Extension Amount

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

The Green Bay Packers drafted Kenny Clark, and he has steadily developed into one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. Now, time for him to get paid.

The Green Bay Packers have frequently made the habit of extending their stars before their contract expires to prevent them from hitting free agency. They’ve done it with Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers most recently, along with guys like Corey Linsley and Mike Daniels. Next up though, should be stud nose tackle, Kenny Clark with just a couple of years left on his deal. He has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but he’s quietly been among the league’s best at his position.

He finished ninth last season in Pro Football Focus’ interior defender grades, and you could easily make the argument that number should have been higher. In the two main categories, pass rush, and run defense, he graded as the fourth and ninth best players. If it weren’t for his coverage grade, where he had just 22 snaps, he likely would have finished as a top five or six player at the position.

Grady Jarrett of the Atlanta Falcons just got paid handsomely, as he’s now behind just Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox at $17 million per season. Jarrett has started for three years and piled up just 14.5 sacks, and he’s never gotten more than 55 tackles in a season. Clark has started for two seasons, and he’s gotten to 55 tackles in each year with 10.5 sacks to his name. He may not get that level of money, but he’s going to get a pretty nice paycheck when the two sides meet.

In addition to Clark putting up similar levels of production with one less year of play, he’s also over two years younger. He hasn’t even turned 24 yet, and he won’t until Week Five of the Packers’ season. With a lot of talent around him on the defensive line, he’s poised for a breakout year in the middle where he can finally start putting up some gaudy numbers that only a few other players at his position are regularly putting up.

The team’s cap space is quite dirty right now, as players like Jimmy Graham and Nick Perry have some pretty hefty cap hits, but it’s going to get a lot cleaner after the 2019-20 season. With that being said, it will open some money up, and Clark should be due for a payday. However, that doesn’t mean he can rest on his laurels. He needs to continue pushing to take the next step as the true heart of this defense.

The list of players that graded out better than Clark in both run and pass defense is a short one. It’s Donald of the Los Angeles Rams. He’s the only one. Everyone else was worse than Clark in some fashion, and he has to show he belongs in that tier this season. Racking up at least eight to 10 sacks would go a long way, and he has to put his first step to better use, as he’s never had more eight tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits. He needs to live in the backfield next season.

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If Clark goes out and puts up Donald like numbers with 15+ sacks, 20+ tackles for loss and 20+ quarterback hits, the Packers should hand him a check for $17 million per season and call it a day. The problem is though that their defense isn’t built for that, so he should be shooting for a minimum of a triple-double with at least 10 in each of the aforementioned categories. If he can get that, he should be right in line for a 4 year, $60 million deal. He could also easily outperform it.