Packers hint at securing Clark's fifth-year option

-- As one of the more significant components to the Green Bay Packers' defense, it's only right that Kenny Clark is eventually locked up for the foreseeable future.

But for now, general manager Brian Gutekunst's focus may be on picking up Clark's fifth-year option.

"I would expect that to happen," Gutekunst said on Monday at his pre-draft press conference. "He's obviously a dominant player on the defensive front. I think the best is yet to come."

The Packers would have until the league-imposed May 3 deadline to pick up Clark's option, which would lock him in through the 2020 season.

Since the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was implemented in 2011, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the only player the Packers exercised the fifth-year option on. They shot down opportunities for first-round picks through the years such as offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and linebackers Nick Perry and Datone Jones.

The Packers selected defensive back Damarious Randall in the first round in 2015, but traded him last year to the Cleveland Browns before he entered the penultimate season of his rookie deal.

Clark is one-half of what is widely regarded as one of the league's most domineering defensive line tandems with Mike Daniels. There's the possibility the Packers could add to their stout defensive line in this week's draft, plucking prospects from a position group rich in talent.

Clark played in 13 games for the Packers in 2018, tallying a career-high six sacks and 55 tackles. He's consistently drawing double-teams from opposing offensive linemen -- albeit futile -- and disrupting plays with his terrifying combination of brute force and speed. Securing his fifth-year option is a no-brainer.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (30)

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GBPDAN1's picture

April 23, 2019 at 05:08 am

Sign the man. He's gotten better every year, a no brainer signing

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Nick Perry's picture

April 23, 2019 at 05:11 am

I would think it happens by the 1st Monday after the draft at the earliest. Gutekunsts focus and attention is 100% on the draft. He knows it's THIS draft along with the Smiths, Amos, and Turner that will get this team back to it's rightful place, first winning the North and back in the Playoffs.

Gute knows what he's got in Clark. Actually I wouldn't mind see him trying to extend him before the season starts because with "Z" and Preston in that front 7 with him the price WILL go up after 2019.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 23, 2019 at 08:25 am

Gute just needs to tell Ball to file the paperwork. Your right, it's not the priority ATM.

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Lphill's picture

April 23, 2019 at 05:41 am

Clark or Daniels? Clark of course .

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stockholder's picture

April 23, 2019 at 06:09 am

Clark goes down. The defense goes down. We have Nobody behind Clark. Nobody behind Daniels. Zilch! Make the case for back ups all you want. The Bears, Vikings, and Lions all have a Top 10 defenses. The packers don't. And as we head into the 2019 draft. Taking offense doesn't work! Signing Clark is a No brainer. But he needs help. Tooting the horn for below average players is not the commitment this defense needs. Clark sets the Bar now. We must fix the Defensive line. For the Future. For the money invested. For others that want better. For a chance to win. Suh taught the Lions a lesson. Take away a good DT and the whole defense goes down the tubes. Sure their Top 10 now. But they paid the price. Pay Clark! But lets get him the players to make this unit stronger. Nobody goes anywhere if they put it all on a Qb. Rodgers,Bres,Brady or any other good QB couldn't win a super-bowl without a good defense.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 23, 2019 at 06:35 am

Clark is a beast. But our DL is adequate as it stands. Not dominating. Daniels was a plus player at his peak - and he's not that any more. Even an excellent one. But he was never an All Pro.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 23, 2019 at 06:41 am

"Daniels was a plus player at his peak - and he's not that any more."

To be fair he had an injury that ended his year last year for the first time in his career.
Daniels is still a really good player.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 08:54 am

He is still good, but with age come injuries. I think that’s where he is right now. There is a scenario where Quinnen Williams is there at #5, and the Pack trade #30 and #12 to Bucs.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 08:57 am

That scenario involves Murray, Bosa, Daniel Jones/Lock and Oliver/Burns/White/Allen going in top 4.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:03 am

Quinnen, Clark, Daniels, Smith boys, Fackrell...yikes!

This creates opportunities for Pettine to scheme devastating blitz packages with Martinez, Jones, Amos, etc...

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zeroluv's picture

April 24, 2019 at 07:14 am

Daniels is good just not worth an extension at 31 years old. Draft his replacement this year and have him study Daniels for a year.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 06:51 am

I’m not sure why they don’t lock up Clark now. He’s 23 year’s old, same as many players in this draft. If Clark were in this draft, he’d be a top 5 pick.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 23, 2019 at 08:23 am

He's going to get Bulagas money probably before they ever get into the 5th year.

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Old School's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:09 am

The thinking is probably like this: We have him for 2019. We can exercise the option and keep him for 2020. That's two more seasons, on the cheap. If nothing bad has happened to change our mind, we can franchise tag him and keep him for 2021, if we wish, or negotiate a multi-year deal then.

Or, if something bad does happen, and we wouldn't want him around, we can just release him and let somebody else give him the big money deal .

That way, we have some money we can commit to our other FAs....like Daniels, Lowry, and Martinez. I'm hoping we can keep Martinez and one of the other two.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 24, 2019 at 03:45 am

Ah, a comment I wholeheartedly agree with, Old School. GB has Clark for $11M over the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined. I am not that anxious to start paying him $12M AAV*. If they did extend him this year, Clark is going to get a signing bonus that would reduce our cap in 2019 and 2020. Clark might get hurt - two full seasons is a long time in the NFL. GB should probably extend Clark after the 2019 season.

* Eddie Goldman is Clark's best comparable at present. Goldman got $10.5M AAV, with $14.25 guaranteed at signing, plus another $3M that guarantees in year 2 but is paid in year 3. $4.75M more is guaranteed at signing for skill and cap, but not injury, something Ball doesn't do since dumping it all in a signing bonus removes even that wiggle room.

Yikes, because Clark is straight up better than Goldman, doubling his sack total and QB hit totals.

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zeroluv's picture

April 24, 2019 at 07:17 am

Sign Clark early to an extension and avoid getting into a bidding war. It will be cheaper to sign him to an extension early. With signing Clark and Martinez next year, Gutey needs to hit this draft big time because next years cap space is low due to the spending spree this year. I’m excited to see what this team can do!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 23, 2019 at 08:21 am

This is why moving out of the 1st to the 2nd might be a bad idea. No 5th year option.

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Old School's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:03 am

Aren't options good? I mean, the team can choose whether or not they want the guy back after 4, right? Mostly, we choose no and our first round picks leave or are extended. On Dix, we said "yes" and then traded him in the 5th year.

So we've got Clark, Daniels, and Lowry all in their contract years. Behind them, we have Adams going into his 3rd year and Lancaster, who played pretty decently last year. That's not bad for this year, but if we can only keep one I'd choose Clark. Lowry probably commands the least money and it'll still be quite a bit. Daniels, is the oldest and one of the vet leaders and still a pretty good player.

So yeah, exercise the option, IMO. Now we have one piece of our 2020 D line in place already, and it's a good piece. We'll also have Adams and Lancaster, probably. Maybe we can keep either Lowry or Daniels and then use a high draft pick next year to add fresh blood.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 24, 2019 at 03:52 am

The 5th year option is a good thing to have. For players selected between pick 11 and 32, it is worth between many millions. It is still useful for players taken in the top 10, but considerably less so.

Clark's 5th year option would have been $7.154M in 2019. It will increase somewhat due to salary inflation for 2020, but not by too much. I'd guess that option will save GB $5M, more if he has an outstanding year.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:06 am

My question: If Murray and Bosa go #1 and #2, should the Pack trade with the Jets to go up and get Quinnen, or hope he slides to #5, where a trade would be cheaper?

Trade with Jets would cost #12, #30 and #44.

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Old School's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:13 am

Trading up is like having the blackjack dealer hit you at 15. The odds are against you and the more you bet, the bigger loss you might take.

Yes, sometimes you hit. More often you'll bust. I guarantee you that there's gonna be somebody at #12 that can be a real good player for us. This is nothing against Williams, who is awesome, or anybody else. It's just a general policy that I think a smart organization would be aware of.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:19 am

No doubt a big gamble, as you say. My contention is that a top 5 defense is necessary for an aging Rodgers to get back to SB. A top #10 defense may not be enough any more.

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Nick Perry's picture

April 24, 2019 at 04:40 am

I think a Top 10 defense would be more than enough. I also honestly believe with the additions in FA the Packers have made already they'll have a top 10 defense right now. I'd also add because ESB, MVS, and Moore are pretty much unproven the Packers better start investing SOMETHING into the offense.

Sorry Bud, I respect your opinion but this teams needs more boost than a Quinton Williams no matter how good/great he'll be. The Packers NEED those picks at 30 and 44 IMO. Even if defense is taken at 12 & 44 my hope is the 44th, 75th, and at least one of the 4ths is used on offense. I think they can get a Safety at 44 so I'd like to see the Packers using their two 1sts on both offense and defense

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 25, 2019 at 12:49 am

Burns +Risner + Thornhill > Q. Williams.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:11 am

Here’s the thing: with Quinnen and Clark, plus Smiths, we’re looking at a top 5 defense. That takes the pressure of Rodgers, which means he doesn’t have to look for game winning big plays, which reduces his injury risk. It all makes sense.

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Old School's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:18 am

Well, the back end of the defense is still kind of shaky, especially if we take injuries.

Our starting safety is Amos. We don't have a clear starter next to him. Josh Jones is at the front of the line, but conventional wisdom has us also drafting a safety kind of high. Tramon Williams would be the 4th safety active on gameday.

We have Alexander-King-Jackson as our first three corners. Behind them, it gets a little shakier. We can play Tramon Williams at corner, if injuries strike, but then he's unavailable at safety. We usually have 4 safeties and 5 corners active. That's 9. I'm not sure we've got 9 guys who can cover and tackle. We'd also need another one for the 53 man roster and another one on the practice squad.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:21 am

Agree, back end would suffer in trade up for Quinnen. The hope is that there’s so much ammo up front, and Pettine is so good at scheming blitzes, that back end wouldn’t need to be stellar. Just good.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:46 am

FS at #44 CB in the fourth or pick up a veteran at cut downs. They have Crazy Tony to play the perimeter. He has upside if he can get his attitude adjusted. He's smart enough.

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zeroluv's picture

April 24, 2019 at 07:21 am

I love Tony Brown! He is a stud at CB if he can start consistently. He tackles well and hits hard.

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sonomaca's picture

April 23, 2019 at 09:27 am

Got to remember who the QB’s are in this division: Cousins, Trubisky, and Stafford. Nine if these players have been shown to be particularly good under pressure.

Apply the pressure!

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