Packers restructure Kenny Clark's contract to help ease their salary-cap situation heading into the 2022 season

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Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark celebrates after tackling Bears quarterback Justin Fields during a game last season at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Packers have restructured Clark's contract to help in the team's challenging salary cap situation.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have restructured the contract for nose tackle Kenny Clark, with the new structure easing the team's dicey salary-cap space situation.

It is expected to be the first of many contracts the Packers restructure before March 16, which is the date they must comply with the league’s expected 2022 salary-cap limit of $208.2 million. The Packers entered the offseason around $50 million over the cap and are expected to be busy over the next three weeks restructuring contracts and deciding who they can keep on the roster.

The first restructure to become public was Clark’s, whose salary-cap charge was reduced by more than half. was the first to report that Clark’s deal had been restructured.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed the news Wednesday during a news conference with local media.

“We did, we touched Kenny’s contract,” Gutekunst said. “Obviously, Kenny being kind of an anchor of our defense, that was kind of an easy one to start out with.”

According to a source familiar with the deal, the Packers took all but $1.035 million (the minimum for someone with his experience) and turned it into a signing bonus, which allows it to be spread out over the remaining years of the deal for cap purposes.

The Packers added two voidable years on top of the three remaining on Clark’s contract so that they could spread the new $14.65 million signing bonus charge over five years. As a result, the Packers reduced Clark’s salary cap charge from $20.9 million to $9.665 million this year.

By shedding $11.235 million, the Packers are roughly $40 million over the cap.

Pushing salary-cap money into the future is always a risk, but it’s less of a risk with a player such as Clark, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who is just 26 years old. Were they forced to cut him in a year or two, it would cause all the deferred salary-cap charges to become due at once; but it’s likely he’ll fulfill the remaining years of his contract given his talent and age.

In total, he has $21.72 million of deferred signing bonus from his original contract and the restructure that will count against the cap in future years. His salary-cap number is $24.18 million in ’23 and $24.93 million in ’24.

“There’ll be many more (contracts) we touch along the way,” Gutekunst said. “A lot of it will be as we go and what we need to do.” 

Players the Packers will probably approach to restructure their deals before the start of free agency are left tackle David Bakhtiari, outside linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, tackle Billy Turner, running back Aaron Jones and defensive lineman Dean Lowry. They will also have to decide whether to restructure or terminate outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith’s deal, which carries a $27.6 million cap number in ’22.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ decision whether to return will play a big part in the Packers’ salary-cap future. If he were to retire, they would gain $19.2 million in cap space; if he were to sign an extension, they should be able to restructure the contract to shed about $10 million from his $46.14 million cap number.

The highest cap numbers on the team belong to Rodgers, Za’Darius Smith, Bakhtiari ($22.2 million), Preston Smith ($19.7 million), cornerback Jaire Alexander ($13.3 million) and Amos ($11.98 million).

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