One of the biggest unknowns for the Green Bay Packers moving forward is whether they’ll be able to extend outside linebacker Rashan Gary, who is currently set to play on his fifth-year option in 2023. Gary, who was on Pro Bowl pace in 2022 before tearing his ACL, returned to practice in the last month but still doesn’t have a long-term contract in hand.
According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, when Gary’s agent — Ian Clarke — was asked about a potential in-season extension, Clarke replied, “Our plan is to operate professionally and remain open to reasonable contract offers in every phase of his career.”
In some ways, Gary is self-represented, as he owns his agency — Rashan Gary Sports — but he is not doing contract negotiations for himself, which should make the process smoother. According to the NFLPA’s agent page, Clarke has been a certified agent since 2017 but has only negotiated a single NFL contract, presumably Gary’s rookie contract.
Based on Spotrac’s market value estimations, Gary — a 25-year-old — is expected to sign a $104.2 million, four-year contract with the Packers on this next extension, which would rank him third among outside linebackers in the league and 22nd in the NFL overall. For perspective, T.J. Watt signed a $112 million, four-year deal as a 26-year-old and Maxx Crosby signed a $94 million, four-year contract as a 24-year-old.
Keep an eye on the holdouts around the NFL, though, as the price of pass-rushers might be on the way up. Currently, the San Francisco 49ers’ Nick Bosa, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones and the Carolina Panthers’ Brian Burns are not reporting for practices or games for their respective teams, and it’s uncertain when they’ll be on the field next. They’re all unhappy with their contract situations, which is the root of their holdouts.
The Packers might want to take advantage of this moment in time, as with each Bosa, Jones and/or Burns being extended and/or traded, Gary’s asking price has an opportunity to adjust. It would be difficult to pay nine figures for a player who hasn’t seen live action since his season-ending ACL tear, but there’s a financial risk in waiting for Gary to prove that he’s fully healthy, too.
According to head coach Matt LaFleur, Gary will begin the season on a “pitch count,” but is expected to suit up against the Chicago Bears in the season opener. The former first-round pick out of Michigan is currently on a $10.9 million fifth-year option, which means that he currently carries the largest salary (game checks) on the team. Should Gary sign an in-season extension, this would create an opportunity for cap relief in Green Bay — potentially allowing them to be a little bit more aggressive on the trade market in 2023.