Packers: Brian Gutekunst commits to Preston Smith in 2021

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith - Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith - Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off a four-sack season and a $16 million cap hit in 2021, the Green Bay Packers are surely going to move on from edge rusher Preston Smith this month.


Well, maybe not.

Not if Brian Gutekunst’s comments during his press conference today are anything to go by. When asked about Smith’s future with the Packers, Gutekunst didn’t give a classic non-answer to the question. Far from it.

“We certainly expect him to be back,” Gutekunst told reporters, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic.

Well, then.

While plans could certainly change in the coming weeks and it’s also possible Gutekunst isn’t willing to reveal any details about potentially releasing Smith, it’s also not Gutey’s style to make a statement like that and not back it up.

If the plan was to release Smith, there were millions of other ways to answer that question.

The expectation by many fans and analysts about Smith’s future had nothing to do with his talent. Smith showed in 2019 how good he can be with 12 sacks and 23 quarterback hits. The problem is that we also saw the opposite — four sacks and 11 QB hits in 2020 — which doesn’t match his enormous cap hit for next season.

With that in mind, we shouldn’t rule out of the possibility of Green Bay reworking Smith’s deal. While releasing him would cut his cap hit in half with an $8 million saving, according to Over The Cap, they could still create cap room this year by restructuring his deal.

And maybe that’s the compromise the Packers are willing to make.

It’s possible they don’t want to bring him back on his current cap number after last year’s production, but also believe he can bounce back and want to keep him under contract. A restructure could help the Packers make it work on the cap.

Time will tell. But based on Gutekunst’s comments, the likelihood of Smith returning in 2021 is possibly way higher than we expected.