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The Packers’ contract extension of Rashan Gary is a rare win-win

Green Bay managed to re-sign their star pass-rusher without resetting the market.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

If you’re anything close to an avid NFL fan, you know that contract asks for star players only continue to increase as the years pass. The cap continues to rise, and the rules of the league generally push that new money into the hands of a few star players that teams have to build around.

That’s what makes the extension of Rashan Gary, news that dropped the day before the NFL’s trade deadline, interesting. Gary, who is better known as a pure pass-rusher than a true all-around edge defender, re-signed to a contract that will make him a very rich man, but it didn’t completely reset the market for his position — which is common when most star players sign extensions.

Ken Ingalls, who covers the Green Bay Packers’ cap on Twitter/X better than anyone else, had an in-depth breakdown of Gary’s contract structure. It was originally reported as a five-year, $107.5 million contract, but as we’ve all learned to realize — the structure of the deal is much more important than what gets leaked out to reporters early on in the news cycle.

On his new contract, Gary’s 2023 cap hit will only increase by about $1 million, which should give Green Bay plenty of wiggle room to maneuver with for the remainder of the season. Next year, I would guess that his $6.2 million roster bonus gets converted into a signing bonus — something the Packers have done in the past — which will spread that money over four or five years on the cap. In 2024, his cap hit should be in the ballpark of the $11.8 million number that the team is currently carrying for Gary in 2023.

When it comes to these big money extensions, the important thing to remember is that most NFL contracts (outside of quarterback deals) end up boiling down to the money paid out in the first three years of the deal. For example, Gary’s dead cap (the cost to release him) is half of his cap hit (the cost to retain him) by 2026 (Year 4 of his five-year deal.)

When looking at the cash flow over the first three years of the contract, you can see how far Gary was from resetting the market at the edge rusher position. He’s going to earn $65.5 million over the first three years of his extension, which is life-changing money that a blogger like me will never come close to sniffing but when compared to the other top deals at the position around the league, though, you immediately see the gulf between Gary and the top of the market.

Nick Bosa is going to make $98.6 million over the first three years of his contract. T.J. Watt is going to make $80.6 million. Back in 2020, which is a lifetime ago in an NFL market that constantly resets, Joey Bosa signed up to make $66.3 million over the first three years of his new extension, which is still more than Gary will see.

Gary making an average per year figure of $24 million in new money was about as good as the Packers could have ever imagined asking for, considering that Bradley Chubb is making $22 million per year and Trey Hendrickson is making $21 million per year. Yes, Gary might be more of a pass-rusher than a true edge defender, but he’s a damn good pass-rusher and those players get paid.

I want to end this by saying that the most exciting thing for Packers fans right now should be the player. Over the last two seasons, Gary has been an elite pass-rusher, and he looks to be continuing that efficiency with a bigger workload. After starting the season on a significant pitch count because he was still recovering from his ACL rehab, he’s set season-highs in snaps plays in three consecutive games. Despite playing more base downs, Next Gen Stats has Gary ranked third in average peak pressure probability for the league this season.

While playing just 40 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps, Gary has managed to record 4.5 sacks in the first half of the season. Now, he’ll have life-changing money in the bank to show for his talent, and Green Bay will have him under contract for five seasons on the best deal they realistically could have got him to put ink on paper for.