This off-season, General Manager Brian Gutekunst has focused on providing Aaron Rodgers with a defense that can carry the team if needed. He signed three defensive free agents and used both of first round picks on that side of the football. Gutekunst is about keeping young, fast defensive players in the Green Bay.
After a breakout 2018 campaign, the Packers have rewarded Kenny Clark by ensuring he will be under contract with the team through the 2020 season.
Last week, there were rumblings out of Green Bay that this was going to happen. Yesterday, Field Yates of ESPN reported that the Packers have exercised Kenny Clark’s fifth-year option. This was probably one of the easiest decisions that GM Brian Gutekunst has made all off-season considering how productive Clark was last year.
Kenny Clark is only scratching the service of his talent. He finished last season with six sacks and 55 tackles. Not to mention, he will only be 23 years old when the season kicks off. With the amount of talent that has been added to the defensive side of the football this off-season, I would not be surprised to see Clark achieve double digit sack totals. In 2018, he was named an alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl team. It would not be surprising at all if he was voted in this season.
This option provides the Packers with the opportunity to offer Clark a longer term deal, which I would expect to happen during next off-season. Obviously, that all depends on him staying healthy and taking another step forward in 2019. It is clear that the Packers brass thinks he can do that. He is only the second first-round pick to receive a fifth year option by the Packers recently. The other player was Ha Ha Clinton Dix.
The payday for Clark is coming, this was just the first step. He should be a defensive leader for the next two seasons. This off-season, Brian Gutekunst has provided Mike Pettine with tools necessary to create pressure on the quarterback and cause turnovers. Kenny Clark may have been undervalued by some fans, but the Packers brass believe he is just getting started and will be a force for at least the next two seasons.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag