Packers: Re-signing Clark Remains Top Priority Among Cap Uncertainty

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /

With already limited cap space next offseason coupled with a potentially reduced salary cap, Brian Gutekunst tells reporters that bringing back Kenny Clark is still a top priority for the Green Bay Packers.

Even if the 2021 NFL offseason was going to be a normal one, it was going to take some excellent financial and roster maneuvering by Russ Ball and Brian Gutekunst. With the Green Bay Packers having five high-profile free agents in Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Kevin King, and Corey Linsley, coupled with limited cap space once again, re-signing even two of those plays while also addressing other needs that pop up was going to be a challenge.

However, as of now, the 2021 offseason doesn’t look like it is going to be a normal one. With uncertainty around revenues this season, a few weeks ago, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap floor of $175 million in 2021.

For reference, this year’s salary cap was $198.2 million and has been on the rise the past few seasons. It’s also worth mentioning that the $175 million mark is the floor, and hopefully, we won’t see it fall that far.

So as you can imagine, given the Packers’ pending free agents, their already tight cap situation, and the possibility of a severely decreased salary cap, next offseason is going to be tricky, to say the least. But even so, as Gutekunst mentioned on his most recent Zoom call with reporters, what potentially lies ahead doesn’t change the priorities that Green Bay had earlier this offseason:

"“Yes it’s made it more difficult, but the priorities that we had back then are still the priorities that we have right now. So yes, looking out in 2021 and possibly 2022 with the ramifications of what’s going on right is something that does make it more difficult, at the same time, our job is to figure that out and put the best team out there to win. So our priorities haven’t changed but it has made it more difficult.”"

While the reporter who asked this question never specifically mentioned Kenny Clark, they were referring to Kenny Clark, and likely David Bakhtiari as well.

Somehow still just 24-years-old, Clark has emerged as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game, finishing as one Pro Football Focus’ top interior run defenders and pass rushers last season. And since January, Gutey has been very transparent in saying that coming to an agreement with Clark is on Green Bay’s to-do list (via Packers Wire):

"“I think it’s important. Kenny is a big part of what we do, very important to our defense. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to come to some agreement at some point. These things don’t happen quickly usually. The idea was always to, some time this offseason, approach that, and we will.”"

Although a deal hasn’t happened quite yet, according to Clark, in an interview with Jason Wilde, it isn’t for lack of effort. Both parties have been in discussions this offseason, but Clark admits that the uncertainty around the coronavirus has slowed things down.

This offseason, we’ve seen DeForest Buckner sign a four-year deal worth $84 million, and Chris Jones agreed to a four-year contract worth $85 million. While we don’t know if Clark will surpass those amounts, we do know that he will be in the ballpark. Any time that amount of money is involved, negotiations are just going to take longer.

Next. Gutey Looking for Ty Summers to Assume a Bigger Role. dark

I’m sure that most of us have spent the offseason wondering when this extension will take place, but given the unique circumstances, it is taking a little extra time. But the good news when it comes to Clark’s – and Bakhtiari’s – future in Green Bay, the priorities of Gutey and the Green Bay Packers haven’t changed, even with possible salary cap restrictions looming.

A deal is coming; it’s just a matter of when.