GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers have signed Kenny Clark to a four-year, $70 million extension that makes him the highest-paid nose tackle in NFL history, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson.
The deal, which makes Clark the 12th-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, includes a $25 million signing bonus and runs through the 2024 season, Hendrickson said. Clark will make $37 million in the first two years of the deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Packers announced the extension but did not include contract terms.
The extension literally woke up Clark.
He said he left the Packers’ facility on Friday at around 6 p.m. and was so exhausted from workouts on the eve of the first training camp practice that he was asleep by 8 p.m. The buzzing of his phone — with messages from his mom and Hendrickson — woke him up at midnight.
“They were like, ‘Man, we’ve got to get this deal done,'” Clark said. “I was like, ‘I was asleep.’ We talked about it. He went through the numbers, went through everything, and I was like, ‘Man, let’s do it. I’m willing to do it.’ This morning, we had to really move fast because we were getting ready to go out and practice.”
Shortly after the defense gathered on the practice field, coordinator Mike Pettine called the unit together and said there was good news to share. After announcing the extension, Clark’s teammates mobbed him.
“Coach Pettine brought us all up and they came out and said I had just got paid or whatever, and everybody was just happy, man,” Clark said. “It’s a family here. Love it here, love the guys here, love playing with everybody here. I’m excited about being on this team.”
The Packers went into this season with five starters, including Clark, with expiring contracts in 2021. The next priority likely is All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. Running back Aaron Jones, center Corey Linsley and cornerback Kevin King also will be free agents after this season.
“I couldn’t be happier for Kenny,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “Kenny is the epitome of what we’re all about here. He works hard on a daily basis. He is becoming more of a vocal leader for us and just really happy for him. We’ve got a lot of guys who are key members to our team whose contracts are coming up, so it definitely lets us kind of move on to the next guy.”
The Packers’ first-round pick in 2016, Clark overtook Mike Daniels as the team’s dominant interior disrupter. He has six sacks in each of his past two seasons and earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2019.
Overall, he has 16.5 sacks, 193 tackles and four forced fumbles (and recoveries) in four NFL seasons.
“I think Kenny sometimes has been an underrated player for us over the years,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s a solid force inside. I think his game has expanded every year. His ability to pass rush I think has been the biggest jump. He’s always been really stout at the point of attack and the run game, quick enough to shed blocks, but I think he’s lived … in mild anonymity I think at times, when Mike Daniels was here and Clay Matthews on defense kind of getting notoriety and the Smith brothers last year. But I think the teams that play him know how dominant he can be, and I had the pleasure of working out with him in the offseason. He’s a fantastic guy. He’s a quiet guy who goes about his business the right way. He’s found his voice at times and his leadership role has increased over the years. It’s been fun to watch him kind of step into that opportunity. He’s one of those guys you just know you can count on every single week.”
In other news from the first day of camp, kicker Mason Crosby has been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list and was at Saturday’s practice. He went 8-of-9 on field goals despite not having his usual long snapper, Hunter Bradley, who remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with tight end Jace Sternberger, linebacker Greg Roberts and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.