One of the team’s best defensive players could be in line for a big payday. Packers pass rusher Rashan Gary has other things on his mind.
In his second year as the team’s general manager, Brian Gutekunst made quite a splash during the offseason. That was something many who were familiar with the Green Bay Packers weren’t used to. The club had a new head coach in Matt LaFleur. The defense was bolstered by the free-agent additions of safety Adrian Amos and outside linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith.
Gutekunst wasn’t done addressing the pass rush. With the 12th overall pick in the NFL draft that year, the club opted for University of Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary. In his two seasons, he combined for just seven sacks in 31 regular-season outings in primarily a reserve role.
That changed in 2021 when he started all 16 games that he played in. He led the Packers with a career-best 9.5 QB traps, to go along with 47 tackles. He added two sacks of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the team’s home playoff loss to San Francisco.
Gary got off to an impressive start this past season. He racked up six sacks during the Packers first eight games and then suffered a knee injury in Week 9 at Detroit that shelved him for the rest of the season.
Packers: Rashan Gary focused on more than just a new contract
He remains on the mend as he prepares for his fifth NFL campaign, which is the final year under his rookie contract. Is there a new deal on the horizon and is it something the emerging defender has concerns about?
“Not at all,” said the four-year pro late last week (via Brandon Carwile of PackersWire.com). “I’m not even thinking about that. I didn’t even know it was that time. Like I said, I’m just taking it day by day and making sure I’m ready when I’m ready.”
It’s a transitional year for the franchise what with Aaron Rodgers dealt to the Jets and Jordan Love taking over the starting quarterback job. Joe Barry’s defensive unit may have to carry the load early on and having a healthy Gary opposite Preston Smith in Week 1 at Chicago would obviously be huge for LaFleur’s team.