After Rodgers Deal, Who is Next in Line for an Extension?

The Green Bay Packers made headlines Wednesday by signing Aaron Rodgers to a four-year, $134 million dollar extension. It was the deal that Packers fans have been waiting for and while it doesn't provide a ton of immediate cap relief, it's not a bad deal cap-wise for Green Bay long term.

Of course, since the Packers only have a little more than $5 million in space left after the deal, a trade for Khalil Mack doesn't seem likely and that's not a surprise, it never seemed that likely in the first place. 

General manager Brian Gutekunst doesn't seem opposed to making that kind of move, but it's generally not something the Packers have done, at least since the days of Ron Wolf.

At any rate, whenever a big contract gets done, the next question that gets asked is, who's next?

From a Packers perspective, there are a number of players that will be coming off the books next season and some of them are notable. Some of the marquee free agents next offseason will be Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Muhammad Wilkerson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Looking beyond, guys with two years left on their deal that might be in line for an extension are Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Blake Martinez and Bryan Bulaga.

For the most part, the Packers are in really good shape in terms of having their best players locked up. After Rodgers, the best players on offense are Davante Adams and David Bakhtiari. Each is locked up for three more years. In fact, outside of Bulaga, three of the top four offensive linemen are all locked down through the 2020 season. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones will also be under contract through that season, along with Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jones, and Josh Jackson. Nick Perry is too. 

But next offseason, the Packers will have some big decisions to make with some key players. But guys like Cobb, Matthews, Wilkerson and Clinton-Dix all have something to prove before getting new deals. Cobb hasn't reached 1,000 yards as a receiver since getting his big deal following 2014. Clinton-Dix made the Pro Bowl in 2016, however, he took a step back in 2017 and needs to correct his career trajectory before Green Bay invests big money in him. 

Matthews is another player that needs to show how he is going to be effective in his 30's. Can he still get to the quarterback consistently off the edge? Or is Clay going to settle into a career at inside linebacker for his final few seasons?

In my opinion, he would be used best in some type of hybrid role. If the Packers were smart, they would play him inside and out. Clay can cover, blitz, set the edge and at times, he can pressure the quarterback. But playing him exclusively at outside linebacker is a mistake and if it is not remedied, he won't be worth the cost of an extension. He's just not an elite edge rusher anymore.

Wilkerson is a really interesting case. He signed a one-year prove-it-deal with the hopes of proving his worth again and cashing in after this season. Obviously, the Packers should see what he has left in the tank but if Wilkerson can be a 10-sack guy again, playing both on the edge and inside, how do the Packers not consider signing him to a long-term deal?

Yet, they also have to weigh the fact that Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels also have two years remaining and will likely want big money themselves. Can you really pay three interior defensive linemen? That's a hard question to answer.

Blake Martinez is another guy that should get some consideration. He has been a pretty good inside linebacker and if he can make some more impact plays, he is another guy that will be worth a new deal.

Generally, the Packers take care of the guys that deserve extensions. They do a great job of keeping their core group of guys together, the question is, of the guys who have expiring deals in the next two seasons, who is worth keeping and who should be let go?

Right now, it's really a question we can't answer. But as the 2018 season goes on, we will have a much better idea of who might be line for the next big deal. 

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Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Comments (28)

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm

I'm hoping CM3 is the next contract extension. He has a lot of experience and versatility. As stated in the article he is no longer an elite pass rusher as an OLB. The last time he really looked explosive is when he converted to ILB. He found wide open lanes and used his speed to burst through the middle. With our DL they could really open up some lanes for CM3, Josh Jones, or Burks. His extension could also give us some cap relief in the short term if structured correctly.

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 30, 2018 at 05:53 pm

I'm just glad Teds not making the final decisions anymore. BG will make better decisions and moves. I feel much more positive that we are heading to another SB in the next year or two.

I haven't had that feeling in the last 7 years with Ted

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Andrew Vincent's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Hypothetically, lets say every player you have listed with 1 year left has a great year. I think Matthews and Ha-Ha would be the 2 to bring back in that scenario to 3 or 4 year deals. Ha-Ha has been really sub-par the last 2 seasons, but if he produces this season under Pettine, locking him up seems like a good move. Mo Wilkerson has already proven with the Jets that a big contract doesn't exactly lead him to consistently produce down the line. Gute did a great job bringing him in on a 1 year prove-it deal, and I expect even if he has a great year this year, that'll be it. As for Cobb, he is young, but he's been banged up and hasn't been close to the worth of his contract he signed in 2015. If they feel good about the crop of receivers they drafted this last draft, they should let Cobb take his talents elsewhere next season.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

August 30, 2018 at 02:45 pm

....don't agree on c-dix.....he's got an attitude problem, and got burned several times in preseason.......let 'im walk.....

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The TKstinator's picture

August 31, 2018 at 07:34 am

I think 21 is the most enigmatic of all: drafted rd 1, had some good seasons under Dom (not easy to do, IMHO), then regressed, and does not look rejuvenated under Pettine so far. Never had elite physical skills. We’ll all know more in a few weeks after he’s played some regular season games. Really don’t know what to expect. Nothing would surprise me, either.

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

August 30, 2018 at 05:48 pm

Not on Matthews extension bandwagon not just yet. First are the coaches even considering a hybrid role, considering we have heard nothing about it. Does Matthews even want that type of role. He did it in a pinch, and as well as he did, does he want to do it again? Also don't think either party will do anything until after the season starts. Both sides will want to see him under the new system.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2018 at 01:19 pm

In the last practice roundup (Day 15), CM3 was quoted as saying he hadn't heard anything about moving inside and apparently hasn't practice that much. As for moving inside, he said News to me.

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

August 31, 2018 at 06:38 pm

Thank you for the update, never figured it was even discussed, figuring on what was said last year byMM.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 31, 2018 at 10:45 pm

When CM3 1st moved to ILB it was done in secret. I'd love to see him move around.

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zoellner25's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:50 pm

I'd probably go CM3 first. HHCD has to have a much better year to even get a 1 year deal. I'd love Mo Wilkerson to rebound and get offered a deal. Then it will be Kenny Clark and Martinez.

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porupack's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Of course, all remains to be seen as 2018 progresses, but trends as they are till now; (assume still trending up for KClark, MDaniels), they seem clear nucleus that GB has been trying to build a defense around (control the line, create penetration and allow LBs to make plays). Seems like they should get extended sometime next offseason and keep that anchor intact.

Assuming no big injury, and Bulaga plays at recent trend, I think a 2 year extension gives GBP lots of flexibilty to draft and develop a couple OTs next draft, and keeps a long serviing stalwarth in GB for continuity on OLine.

Assuming HHCD bounces back to a solid and reliable enforcer, he too is a core player whether or not he is at pro-bowl level. The continuity there is important for the young backfield. Of course, let him prove it this year as you say, but be ready, as I think he will deserve an extension after this season.

Matthews would be a great contributor as you suggest, more flex position for lowered salary. Keep him if possible.

I think Cobb will be expendable as GBP has invested in an emerging WR corps.

What about JGraham? If he and Rodgers are a touchdown tollbooth (drop a quarter and TD gate opens up), then that has to be a deal to make.

MWilkerson is a luxury, and sure, if he produces high, then GBP will find a way to lock him up; but I worry he would get higher offers elsewhere, so I don't expect him to stay.

Martinez, deal with when necessary, but no need to rush this deal. Its secondary priority.

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Since'61's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Porupack - I think that Graham is signed for 3 seasons. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Christopher Gennaro's picture

August 30, 2018 at 05:50 pm

He is no reason to worry about him for awhile.

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porupack's picture

August 31, 2018 at 03:00 pm

S61,
Thanks for the info...and good news. I was out of communicado during most of that FA period.

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EdsLaces's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm

He doesn't need locked down quite yet, but I get more and more excited about Machinez every time i watch him play.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

August 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

The market for safeties is not as rich as at other positions. I like HaHa but once you get over 8mil I'd let him walk. Matthews is not worth what he is making no\w and I'd resign him only at a more modest sum, say $5mil plus incentives. I think Randall Cobb moves on, with all the young talent on the roster. Wilkerson could make it interesting with a great year. Martinez is at best a white chip player and sure bring him back but at a modest amount.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2018 at 01:23 pm

$8M? For HHCD? For CM3 yes, and $4M or $5M for HHCD.

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stockholder's picture

August 30, 2018 at 03:37 pm

I would love to see CMIII get done. Just don't think it will happen. CMIII knows what happened to Hawk. If he plays like he can. Someone will pay him more. But not the packers. ( Most California boys return to the west Coast as they get older.) I would love to see Dix get done too. Just don't think that will happen. Dix will struggle to get more. He's not a game changer. I would Love to see Cobb get done. That will never happen. If He wants more money, he'll return punts again. The packers lose all three. The money went to A-Rod knowing this. It makes them bargain shoppers the next 2 years. (If they sign them)

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Lare's picture

August 30, 2018 at 02:04 pm

This article states that the Packers will have a little over $5 million in cap space after Rodgers' new contract, yet Zach Kruse states in an article today on PackersWire that "By the time Rodgers’ deal and the Brett Hundley trade are in the books, the Packers should be right around $11 million under the salary cap in 2018." Perhaps TGR can clarify the number for us.

As to who gets extended next, I think the answer to that will be much clearer later in or after the season.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2018 at 01:44 pm

Zach Kruse is just quoting OTC, which is a reputable site. OTC is still using the Rule of 51. Since we will have 53 on the roster, and 10 PS guys, subtract at least $2.3M from $11M to reach $8.7M. When we actually cut guys, several will have bonuses that become dead money when they are cut, even if they are then signed to the PS. So deduct another $1M (really depends on which guys get cut). Down to $7.7M to $8.7M.

As previously written, I believe OTC and NFLPA are holding $2.52M in abeyance, if you will, due to our appeal of Bennett's signing bonus. During a grievance, only 40% of the amount in question counts against a teams salary cap. So, 60% doesn't. 60% of $4.2M is $2.52M. If we lose our appeal, I expect OTC to reduce their salary cap space by that amount.

I did a fanpost on APC (link below if you're interested) with my roster prediction of what I expect GB to do (not really what I would do). I end up with $6.194M in cap space. I ignored the appeal/assumed we'd lose the appeal. I dumped OT Bell, but keeping Bell as an OL would change our cap space to $5.1M or so. I think Zach Kruse is about right.

https://www.acmepackingcompany.com/2018/8/17/17722760/my-53-with-cap-imp...

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jww061356's picture

August 30, 2018 at 02:19 pm

I read somewhere(I think here earlier in the year) that GB should have a ridiculous amount of cap space next year. Unless HHCD, CM3 or Cobb have stellar years, let em' walk. I think you can have another good draft, be active in free agency and and still extend the other guys. Draft OLB high next year and fill in the holes with free agency.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 31, 2018 at 01:48 pm

Well, we will have a modest amount. Not tons, not strapped for cap room. RC and I had this tussle a while ago.

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Point-Packer's picture

August 30, 2018 at 02:42 pm

No one...you see the size of that thing?

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Rebecca's picture

August 30, 2018 at 02:46 pm

The future contracts situation will change dramatically when we win the Super Bowl. Guys having exceptional seasons will be looking for a bankroll come next off season. I wouldn’t overpay haha, Clay, or Wilkerson if they have better seasons but not exceptional. Same for Cobb. At least with Clay and Cobb, who always put in max effort and have been the kind of men you want in your organization. Pay the young stars and hold on to the older veterans who are dedicated, especially on defense.

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Monsmoy's picture

August 30, 2018 at 04:58 pm

I like the idea of CM3 staying, perhaps moving (sensibly) to an ILB role, but only if he does the right thing and recognise he has to take a team friendly cut to stay and win his second SB ring. We should pick an OLB/edge in 2019 draft first round and possibly another in 3rd. Cobb can be replaced by one or two of the current rookies - he has served well but his time is up. A Ha Ha contract makes no sense; we can pick up a genuine performer in FA and a 2019 draft pick for depth. M Adams will hopefully have a break out year and take over from Wilkerson if he is poor or too expensive. Otherwise a strong rotational team and a DL first pick 2020 draft. Daniels and Clarke should be offered contract extensions. On the O line, I hope we get a RT and utility OG in picks 2 and 3 and prepare for BB to leave (probably through injury). The 2019 draft should allow a number of new really good quality players to join and relieve possible financial strain over next couple of years.

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cheesehead1's picture

August 30, 2018 at 06:49 pm

Our new GM has shown he’s not going to stand still, so more moves are possible (maybe Mack? ....not very likely, but who knows). Personally, I would jettison players who are constantly injured. Nothing personal to any, but if you can’t stay on the field then it’s time to move on. It’s a huge business and the players are paid big $, but they have to be available at game time. Really impressed with what Gutekunst has done so far. The real season starts soon and then we’ll get a better idea of how things play out.....Go Packers!

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Mibster's picture

August 31, 2018 at 07:37 am

Let everyone go.. We only need Rodgers on the field :)
(joke).. Congrats to Arod to a well earned contract!

Clay and Haha I would like to keep, Cobb yes if not to expensive.

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idgafkurt's picture

August 31, 2018 at 09:09 am

How about Justin McCray? He's ERFA so they can just tender him, but if he has another solid season he seems like a guy they could lock up through his prime at a fairly team team friendly deal and be set at RG for the near future.

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