Star defensive tackle Kenny Clark finally received a well deserved contract extension worth $70 million over 4 years. Most people would agree that Clark was the top priority to get an extension out of the “Big 5” players who have contracts expiring in 2021, those “Big 5” being Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Kevin King, and Corey Linsley.
The Packers salary cap will be very tight next offseason and COVID-19 will not help the situation at all, its not a stretch to say Russ Ball might have to pull off his biggest miracle ever just to keep two more of the big 5 to pair with Clark. The question of who remains a hot topic among the Packers community.
Contract Prediction (3 year, $55.5 million, $18.5M yearly average)
Pros: Bakhtiari is the best player of the remaining 4 by a fairly wide margin and he has been a crucial piece in our offense and protecting Aaron Rodgers. Bakhtiari is one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL and just made his second pro bowl and was 1st team All-Pro in 2018, it is safe to say that he is still in the middle of his prime and the almost 29 year old is well deserving of a massive contract.
Cons: The only issue with giving Bakhtiari an extension is the money that comes with it. Bakhtiari would likely become one of, if not the, highest paid tackles in the NFL and it is going to come with an increased salary cap hit. He will be worth every penny, however.
Contract Prediction (4 year, $32 Million, $8M yearly average)
Aaron Jones recently indicated on NFL Network that his agent has been engaged in contract talks with the Packers organization. This means the Packers likely see him as priority #2 behind Bakhtiari to extend.
Pros: Aaron Jones has been a lightning rod for this offense and has completely revamped our rushing attack with his slashes and impeccable balance and patience. Running backs like Jones are a rare breed and it is hard to find ones that carry a skillset that comes close to his. From a football perspective, Jones deserves, and has earned a new contract with the Packers and letting him walk would be losing one of the most explosive pieces to this offense.
Cons: The issue with paying Aaron Jones simply lies with an issue many teams around the league have faced, paying RB’s usually does not pan out well for the team. Teams like the Rams and Jets have given their RB’s large contracts and we have seen little to no success from their team afterwards, only increased issues with keeping other pieces to the team. While we have seen teams like the Chiefs and 49ers use low end/undrafted RB’s and still been extremely efficient offensively.
Contract Prediction: (4 year, $29 Million, $7.25M yearly average)
Pros: When healthy, Kevin King is a stud in the secondary. He is one of the best CB’s in the NFL in red zone defense, he has a unique combination of height and speed, and he is a complete ball hawk. The 25 year old has all of the intangibles you want in a starting corner and he’s only going to get better even after a very good season in 2019. When King is at his best, he is a special player, he may price himself out of Green Bay with a more consistent season in 2020.
Cons: Kevin King’s undisputed downfall over his short career has been his health, missing 18 games in his first 3 years. Along with heath being an issue, King has some inconsistencies in 2019 giving up 864 yards, which is not a pleasing stat to see. With more time and experience I believe King will fix these issues but it is an unknown at this time and we will need to see that in 2020 if he is going to get a new contract.
Contract Prediction (3 year, $33 Million, $11M yearly average)
Pros: Mr. Reliable, Corey Linsley has been a consistently great asset to the team for many years. It is hard to find offensive lineman who can be this reliable and this good especially ones who are in charge of snapping the ball every play, and the Packers are blessed to have one. Linsley is usually very healthy, he’s only had 2 penalties against him in 2019, and mistakes snapping the ball come few and far between. He also has the benefit of having a long standing good relationship with Aaron Rodgers since becoming a starter as a rookie in 2014.
Cons: There are two issues with giving Linsley a new contract. The first is money, he would most likely require the second largest contract (behind Bakhtiari). The second is his backup plan. After drafting Jake Hanson, that leaves him, Elgton Jenkins, and Lucas Patrick who could all come in and fill his role relatively well.
If the Packers are able to keep two more players from the 4, my decision would be David Bakhtiari, and Kevin King. The decision for Bakhtiari is a simple one for me since he is the best player and options can be made to backload a big contract like that to keep cap space open. The Kevin King section is a difficult one, but it is one I believe is right. King is the cheapest of the three options left, and he is the most difficult to replace especially with the possibility of not having a college football season making scouting much tougher. Corners, unlike a position like running back who heavily relies on a good offensive line, are one of the more independent positions in football and rely on a great deal of skill and talent to have a successful secondary. A good CB like King to pair with the already great Jaire Alexander is just so rare and it would be detrimental to the defense to break that duo apart.