Packers need to do something about Za’Darius Smith’s contract

Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Za’Darius Smith is one of the Green Bay Packers‘ stars and is deservedly among the team’s highest-paid players.

However, with limited cap room in 2022, the Packers face a tough decision in the offseason.

With a cap hit of $28.1 million set for next season, Smith’s cap hit is the fifth-highest among non-QBs in the NFL, according to Over The Cap.

Some teams would be able to take on that cap hit, but for the Packers, it could be an issue. As things stand, the team will need to create around $38 million just to get under the salary cap.

Trading Aaron Rodgers would help, but a lot of work would still need to be done.

Like last year, the Packers will likely need to restructure some contracts. As Smith will be entering the final year of his deal, this won’t be a possibility. Smith restructured his contract last offseason to help the salary-cap situation.

So, if the Packers decide Smith’s 2022 cap hit is too high and need to lower it, they only have two realistic options. One is to work out a contract extension, the other would be to release Smith.

By extending Smith’s contract, the Packers would be able to spread money out over the duration of the deal and potentially significantly lower his cap hit for 2022. This could be a great option for Smith to get a long-term deal and potentially finish his career in Green Bay, while also helping the Packers’ cap situation.

If they can’t work out a deal, the only other realistic option would be to release Smith. Far from ideal as Smith is one of the Packers’ most important players, plus they’d still be paying a dead cap hit of $12.38 million. But it would save them $15.75 million, which would help get the team under the salary cap.

Tough decisions are ahead for GM Brian Gutekunst. Hopefully Smith will have many more years to play in Green Bay, but possibly the only way for that to work would be a contract extension.