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Thursday Cheese Curds: Packers will face monumental task with 2021 free agent class

Green Bay's star running back, star left tackle, rising star defensive tackle and one of their starting corners all enter contract years in 2020

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Seattle Seahawks At Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought the Green Bay Packers had a challenge trying to keep pending free agents from leaving this season, next year’s slate is even more daunting.

Aaron Jones, David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark and Kevin King are all entering contract years in 2020 and keeping all of them will be a challenge

Clark is the most likely of the bunch to receive an extension first. He’s entering his prime and has evolved into a force of nature along the defensive line. Losing Clark is basically not even an option for Green Bay.

One would think Jones would be the next in line after a breakout year in 2019 but second contracts for running backs can be sticky as their bodies usually break down earlier than any other position due to the physical nature of the job. Right now it might seem unfathomable but the truth is Jones would be the easiest one to replace of the 2021 group.

Bakhtiari’s case for an extension is stronger than Bryan Bulaga’s was this year despite a stellar 2019 but one also can’t ignore the Packers’ history with aging offensive linemen. They let Josh Sitting, T.J. Lang and now Bulaga leave and Bakhtiari could be next despite his continuing Pro Bowl-level play. He will turn 30 at the beginning of the 2021 season and that puts him right on the line of where Green Bay could move on.

As for King, barring a stellar 2020 season, he’s the most likely player to leave. His injury history and inconsistent play haven’t provided a ton of hope for fans but he’s still shown flashes of being a shutdown corner. His coming back to Green Bay probably won’t be decided until the start of free agency next March.

As you can see big decisions await Brian Gutekunst next year but hopefully he and Russ Ball can work their magic and keep three out of the four at least.

There’s more on the 2021 free agents plus what Christian Kirksey brings to Titletown in today’s cheese curds.

Packers’ 2021 decisions: David Bakhtiari or Aaron Jones? Kenny Clark or Kevin King?—ESPN

Gutekunst will be making decisions over the next year that likely will have significant effects on the franchise’s trajectory. No pressure, Gutey.

Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey wants to be ‘best people person,’ best player he can be— (subscription required)

New inside linebacker Kirksey wants to be not only a good player but also a great leader. Blake Martinez wore the headset on defense and it could make sense for Kirksey to wear it as his replacement.

Prospect Primer: DL James Lynch—

Clark needs a wrecking buddy on the defensive line. Could James Lynch be the answer?

Williams Calls Returning to Green Bay a ‘Priority Option’—Sports Illustrated

Ageless wonder Tramon Williams played well in his second stint with the Packers and has been a valuable leader to a still young secondary. The Packers could and maybe even should bring Williams back for one more year and it won’t even be that expensive.

Concert hall dubbed world’s largest mirrored building—UPI

Imagine seeing a life changing concert in this building. You’d definitely need to take some time outside to reflect (I’ll show myself out).