Last week, the Green Bay Packers signed Kenny Clark to a huge second contract, or an extension if you want to get technical about it. Let’s analyze some of the Packers’ biggest second contracts.
Clark’s 4-year, $70 million contract was great news for the Green Bay Packers and the fanbase. His extension keeps him in Green Bay through the 2024 season. It’s an investment in the future of the team and the core of the defense. Clark’s deal has us all thinking about what’s next for the Green Bay Packers.
Let’s take a break from our predictions and look back (in no particular order) at the five biggest second contracts the Green Bay Packers have dealt over the last decade and the results that followed.
Davante Adams – 4 years, $58 million (2018)
With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb already present, Davante Adams walked into an ideal situation in Green Bay, in 2014. As a rookie, Adams won third wide receiver duties, which offered him the opportunity to develop in live situations without having to shoulder much responsibility.
This role helped mold Adams into the consistent, productive receiving threat we know and love. His development allowed the Green Bay Packers to move on from Jordy Nelson during the 2018 offseason, opting for the younger Adams.
The move paid off, as Adams on his fresh contract, immediately excelled in the number one receiver role. During the 2018 season, Adams set career highs in receptions (111), yards (1386), and touchdowns (13). Adams’ production took a step back in 2019, mostly due to injuries and Matt Lafleur’s new offensive system.
We’re expecting a bounce-back season from Adams, as he’s one of the top-ten wide receivers in the NFL; top-five depending on who you talk to. At $14.5 million per year, the Packers aren’t complaining. Adams has two years left on his deal and re-signing him is likely priority number one during the 2021 offseason. Davante Adams should have a long, fruitful career in Green Bay.
Clay Matthews III – 5 yrs, $66 million (2013)
Clay Matthews came into the NFL in 2009 and took the league by storm. He recorded a career-high in sacks (13.5) in 2010 which won him NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors by the Pro Football Writers Association. Matthews was also invited to the Pro Bowl every single year of his rookie deal. His accomplishments led to him signing the richest contract offered to a linebacker in NFL history.
Whether or not Matthews proved to be worth the money is up for debate. He went on to lead the Packers in sacks for three seasons on his second contract but injuries kept him off the field far too often. He simply wasn’t playing enough snaps to impact the game during the early years of his second contract.
Toward the end of his time in Green Bay, Matthews started to see more snaps at inside linebacker. It was less about Matthews’ production off the edge and more about the Green Bay Packers’ lack of talent inside. It was a huge sacrifice for Matthews and a great display of his loyalty to the organization.
However, when his contract expired after the 2018 season, the Packers decided to let Matthews walk. He signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams and played fairly well, recording eight sacks on the season, but the Rams chose to release Matthews this past March.
Matthews didn’t have much action during free agency and remains unsigned. He’ll likely be a veteran addition for a team that suffers an injury at edge rusher. I hope he finds a home because he looked like he had plenty of juice left in him last year. Matthews is still the all-time sack leader for the Green Bay Packers, though Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith might push for his 83.2 career mark. Matthews is still a fan favorite and we all wish him the best of luck.
Randall Cobb – 4 years, $40 million (2015)
The second biggest contract earned by a wide receiver for the Packers over the last decade, Cobb’s $40 million outpaced Jordy Nelson’s 4-year, $39 million contract, signed the previous offseason, by just $1 million. Cobb and Nelson formed one of the best wide receiver duos in the league for a number of years. The addition of Davante Adams could have made this group absolutely lethal.
However, Injuries to the three receivers and Aaron Rodgers kept the group from reaching its full potential. As an individual, Cobb didn’t live up to this contract. The last season of his rookie deal (2014) was by far the best of his career, with 91 receptions for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns, but his production declined every single year, afterward.
During Cobb’s last season with the Green Bay Packers, he was only healthy for 9 games, where he recorded 38 receptions for 383 years and 2 touchdowns – a far cry from what we saw when he was on his rookie contract. After a one-year stint with the Cowboys, Cobb is now on the first of a three-year, $27 million contract with the Houston Texans. Partnered with the speed of Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller, Cobb’s veteran presence might be just what the Texans need. He may have a productive end to his career.
Nick Perry – 5 years, $59 million (2017)
Speaking of not living up to big contracts, Nick Perry proved to be a huge disappointment. He signed a lucrative deal on the heels of a productive contract year. That would prove to be the only productive season for this former first-rounder. Perry went on to record just 8.5 sacks in 21 games played in 2017 and 2018.
Perry’s contract was based more on fear than anything else. With the knowledge that Matthews would be spending more time at inside linebacker and Julius Peppers was going back to the Carolina Panthers, the front office thought they couldn’t afford to let Perry walk. They were wrong.
After just two of the five seasons written into his contract, the Packers decided to part ways with Perry. He still cost the team $11.1 million in dead cap last year but he’s off the 2020 payroll. The Green Bay Packers can finally put this nightmare behind them.
David Bakhtiari – 4 years, $48 million (2017)
David Bakhtiari has protected Aaron Rodgers’ backside for the last seven years, missing only six games during that time. He outplayed his $12 million per year contract and is now considered one of the best left tackles in the league. He’ll be paid as such, but by who?
Bakhtiari’s contract expires after this season. Keeping him in Green Bay has to be the front office’s top priority, going forward. He may be the next domino to fall for the Green Bay Packers.
Both Jordy Nelson and Sam Shields were signed to 4 year, $39 million contracts during the 2014 offseason. Shields didn’t complete his contract, while Nelson was able to recapture some glory, receiving comeback player of the year honors in 2017, after tearing his ACL the previous season.
Aaron Rodgers’ 5-year, $110 million contract signed during the 2013 offseason was his third contract and made him the highest paid player in the NFL at the time. His deal has been extended through the 2022 season but who know’s if we’ll see him in Green Bay for its entirety.
James Starks’ two year contract worth $3.25 million is the only second contract the Packers have offered to a running back over the past decade.
Over that time, the Packers have offered second contracts worth over $5 million per year to a left tackle (Bakhtiari), left guard (Josh Sitton), center (Corey Linsley), right guard (TJ Lang), and right tackle (Bryan Bulaga). The five of them started together during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It’s clear that the Green Bay Packers have prioritized the offensive line in the past.
Ted Thompson and the old regime were responsible for four of those five contracts, while only Corey Linsley was re-signed by Brian Gutekunst. It’s reasonable to question if Gutekunst will have the same priorities as Thompson.
The decisions that he makes during 2021 offseason will tell us everything we need to know about “Gutey’s” philosophy. Will Gutekunst re-sign Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley, or Kevin King? Only time will tell but we’ll be covering this story as it progresses, here, at Game On Wisconsin.
(All contract info courtesy of Spotrac.com)