Packers’ $70 Million Pro Bowler Dubbed ‘Cap Casualty’ for 2024 - Sport News

Packers’ $70 Million Pro Bowler Dubbed ‘Cap Casualty’ for 2024

The Green Bay Packers could look to shed a few of their more expensive veteran contracts from their books before the start of the new league year on March 13. Three of their five highest-paid players are at least 30 years or older and some of them — like left tackle David Bakhtiari — can be released for heaps of cap savings.

Kenny Clark Packers News NFL Rumors

Could three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark end up a cap causality, though, if the Packers hard commit to rebuilding a young roster core around Jordan Love?

NFL.com’s Matt Okada raised the issue in his recent article spotlighting several NFC players on “cut watch” for 2024. While Bakhtiari and his $40 million cap hit made the top of his list, he also mentioned Clark’s rising cost could land him “on the block.”

“The defensive tackle had a resurgent year … but he counts for an obscene $27.5 million of cap space entering the last year of his deal,” Okada wrote. “Cutting Clark post-June 1 would open up $17 million of room, so if the Packers want to prioritize supporting their new franchise QB, this move could go a long way in that regard.”

The Packers must clear roughly $5.25 million in additional cap space before the start of the league year, but they will need considerably more to sign their projected draft picks and give themselves flexibility both during free agency and during the 2024 season. A combination of roster cuts and contract restructures can help them get there; though, it is unclear how much the team feels it will need to accomplish its goals this offseason.

If the Packers aim to reload their roster like they did in 2019, they will need more space.

Packers Can Reduce Kenny Clark’s Cost in Other Ways

Okada is not wrong that, on the surface, the Packers could free up a significant amount of cap space if they released Clark with a post-June 1 designation. What Okada fails to understand, though, is the Packers have a few other ways they can go about reducing Clark’s exorbitant cap hit in 2024 without casting him from next year’s roster.

According to Packers cap analyst Ken Ingalls, the team could create cap savings with either a contract restructure or a “rare” third contract extension for a non-quarterback. He projects the team could gain between $10.8 million and $11.5 million in cap space with a restructure, which is more than half what they would save with a post-June 1 cut.

The Packers might also be more interested in extending Clark after his impressive 2023 performance. Clark does not turn 29 until next October and likely has at least a few more years left in his prime. Rebuilding a strong core around Love is important, but making sure Clark remains a part of that core makes more sense than cutting him.

Who Else Could Packers Consider Cutting in 2024?

The Packers might not have many compelling reasons to cut Clark, but there are a few other veterans on their roster who could be on the chopping block in the week ahead.

Bakhtiari remains the biggest name in potential cut talks. The 32-year-old left tackle has missed 38 games over the past three seasons and is coming off another major knee surgery that sidelined him for all but one game of the 2023 campaign. The Packers have shown patience with his oft-injured knee over the years, but they are likely not thrilled about the prospect of paying his $40 million cap hit during the 2024 season.

The Packers would clear about $20.9 million in cap space if they released Bakhtiari, an easy decision unless they can work out a pay-reducing restructure to keep him around.

Okada also mentioned running back Aaron Jones, but he is also likely wrong about him, too. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told reporters on February 1 that he “absolutely” expects Jones to be back in 2024, despite his $17 million cap charge. That does not mean there is zero chance of a separation, but it sounds more likely that the team will look to either restructure or extend Jones to keep him in the fold.

Otherwise, the Packers could clear significant space by designating two other veterans as post-June 1 cuts: outside linebacker Preston Smith ($12.4 million in savings) and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell ($10.57 million in savings).

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