Make no mistake, Za’Darius Smith was a home-run signing in free agency and worth every penny the Packers have given him. But that doesn’t mean the team can afford to leave his contract as it currently is entering 2022.
Like with the other two, Smith’s contract was also restructured this offseason to create some cap room. His cap hit for this year is $14.62 million, third highest on the roster, but that’s perfectly fine for a player so important to the defense.
The problem is in 2022, the final year on Smith’s current deal, when his cap hit will jump up to $28.13 million. With another $39.85 million currently committed to Aaron Rodgers, that’s a huge chunk of the salary cap taken up by two players.
The good news here is that there is an easy solution.
Smith tweeted in March that he wants to be a Packer for life. And with 26 sacks and 60 quarterback hits in two seasons, the Packers should want him to sign a long-term extension.
A contract extension could help the Packers reduce his cap hit for 2022, while also ensuring their best pass rusher stays in Green Bay. A win-win for both sides.
Working out an extension with Smith over the next year should be a priority for Green Bay.