Ryan Wood and Olivia Reiner assess the Packers' defensive line heading into training camp and the 2019 season. Olivia Reiner, PackersNews
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers made an investment in defensive lineman Dean Lowry they hope will pay off during the next three years.
Just two days before the first training camp practice, the club announced it had signed Lowry to a contract extension.
According to a source familiar with the terms, Lowry signed a three-year, $20.35 million deal that includes $6 million in guaranteed money, all in the form of a signing bonus. Due to an escalator written into his rookie contract, Lowry's base salary had risen from $720,000 to $2.025 million this, but the Packers decided he was worth more.
His new yearly average of $6.78 million ranks 11th on the team and second among defensive linemen behind Mike Daniels. Lowry's salary cap number rose from $2.12 million to $3.55 million, an increase of $1.43 million that immediately comes off the team cap.
After Lowry's signing, the Packers are roughly $7.7 million under the cap.
In his three seasons with the Packers, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Northwestern, Lowry, 25, has missed only one game. He started 19 of the 47 regular-season games he has played.
In his career, Lowry has recorded seven sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, one touchdown and six passes defensed. He has also made 84 tackles (55 solo).
Last season, he took part in 65.6% of the defensive snaps and finished with three sacks, seven quarterback pressures and two knockdowns. He also had two tackles for loss and four passes defensed.
His value grew last season when starters Muhammad Wilkerson (13), Kenny Clark (three) and Daniels (six) missed a combined 22 games due to injury. Lowry should continue to see considerable playing time, although free agent outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith will eat up some of the snaps upfront in nickel and dime situations.
Daniels is in the final year of his deal, but otherwise the Packers are in good shape on the defensive line for the next two seasons. Eventually, the Packers will try to extend fellow defensive lineman Clark, who entering his fourth year has emerged as arguably the best player on defense.
The Packers picked up the fifth-year option on Clark’s contract on May 1, 2019, locking him in through the 2020 season, but ideally they would like to sign him to a long-term deal before the end of next year's off-season. Clark is in line for a blockbuster deal that will probably make him the highest-paid player on defense.
The Packers could use a big chunk of their remaining cap money to sign Clark late in the season, but since unused cap money rolls over to the next year, there is no urgency.
Tom Silverstein of PackersNews.com contributed to this story.