There was an overwhelming sense of recognition Saturday when Kenny Clark and the Green Bay Packers agreed to a lucrative contract extension. The fifth-year nose tackle has been one of the more underrated players in the NFL. He has quietly developed into a premier defensive lineman, and after his first Pro Bowl appearance garnered a four-year, $70 million extension, according to NFL media.
Clark, who was entering the final season of his rookie contract, was slated to make $7.69 million in 2020, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, and would have likely made less if the season is shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he’ll make at least $25 million via signing bonus—it’s the team’s largest signing bonus ever given to a non-quarterback and, as Pelissero noted, will be paid within five months—and $37 million will be paid over the first two seasons, per multiple reports. It makes Clark the highest-paid nose tackle and the 12th highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
The Packers boast one of the best defensive lines in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, they enter the season with the fifth-best unit. Clark had an 87.0 PFF pass-rushing grade after 62 total pressures in the 2019 season. He was the highest-ranking nose tackle, but he wasn’t always producing at this level.
When Clark entered the league in 2016 as a No. 27 overall pick from UCLA, he needed to improve his pass-rushing. He was already seen as a total package with all the traits a team would want in a defensive lineman: agility, strength, instincts, awareness, and toughness. But Clark has a few inconsistencies in college. Luckily for him, and the Packers, that never translated to the NFL.
After Clark’s rookie season, he has led the team in sacks (16.5) and forced fumbles (four). In 2019, he started in all 16 games for the first time in his career and finished with a career-high 89 total tackles and six sacks. Clark was able to build off of his breakout 2018 season that was cut short due to an elbow injury in Week 14 that placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Clark can now be a staple in the Packers’ defensive front with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Green Bay can afford to be better against the run this season, but its pass-rush should be one of the best in the league. Za’Darius Smith and Clark made a formidable pass-rush duo; securing Clark through the 2025 season shows the Packers desire to keep their defensive front among the league’s best for the foreseeable future.
- Dec 01, 2022
- Nov 30, 2022