Za’Darius Smith has been one of the most successful free-agent signings that the Green Bay Packers have taken a chance on in recent memory. In just two seasons with the Pack, Smith has totaled 26 sacks and has become a top-tier pass rusher in football.
Smith also made a quick impact in the Packers locker room – becoming a defensive captain in both of his first two years as well. It was quite apparent that Za’Darius was loved by the entire team and is definitely even a fan favorite as well.
That’s why it came as a shock when Smith wasn’t voted as a team captain as the 2021 season approached. Other defensive stars like Kenny Clark, Adrian Amos and Jaire Alexander got the nod over Smith.
Smith responded in a somewhat petty way, after he posted a video on his Instagram of him getting a custom made chain with the “Captain” logo on it. This undoubtedly wasn’t only a spit in the face of Smith’s image as a leader, but also a spit in the face to the members of the roster that voted for other players to be captain.
Smith was recently placed on injured reserve with a back injury, which had led some fans to question if there is more to the injury than meets the eye – or is the relationship between the Packers and Smith at a breaking point?
It’s not exactly a secret that Za’Darius was unhappy with his contract restructuring during the offseason, which can be a landmine situation when it comes to player happiness.
With the contract issues and seemingly weird language that Matt LaFleur has used to describe the Smith situation, I have an odd feeling that there is more to this story than meets the eye.
The issue is figuring out what exactly the dynamic between number 55 and the team is. I’d lean towards saying it’s not very good, given the fact that Smith removed any mention of the team from his Instagram bio.
As mentioned in a previous article on the site, it’s a very big possibility that Smith has played his last down as a Green Bay Packer – with or without the internal situation. Smith’s cap number jumps to nearly $29 million next year, which is a complete disaster of a number given the team’s cap situation.
Aside from any contract issues, Smith losing the captain moniker is the true issue here. For somebody who is beloved by the fans, the locker room and the franchise overall, losing the moniker isn’t something that happens easy. Something had to happen for Smith to lose the team’s trust/respect, but that remains to be seen.
Za’Darius’ future with the Packers is still heavily in question, but it does seem that the two sides are headed for at least a rough breakup.