4. Za’Darius Smith
It’s difficult to see how Za’Darius Smith is back in 2022, as hard as that is to say. The Packers went without their star pass rusher for most of the year. He was limited in the season opener then didn’t return until the divisional round. Smith reminded us how good he is with a sack on the 49ers’ opening possession.
Here’s the issue: Smith has a huge cap number and turns 30 next season. His cap hit for 2022 is $27.66 million. If the Packers don’t give him an extension, they can’t restructure this deal. Releasing him would save over $15 million. Given how well Rashan Gary has played, releasing Smith feels inevitable.
3. De’Vondre Campbell
Another great story for the Packers in 2022.
Signed in June, few predicted De’Vondre Campbell would become a first-team All-Pro. He single-handedly turned things around for this defense, finishing the season with 146 tackles, five pass defenses, two interceptions, two sacks, and six QB hits.
Like Rasul Douglas, Campbell has proved himself this year and should land a huge contract somewhere in the offseason. It seems doubtful the Packers will be able to afford to bring him back, especially if Aaron Rodgers departs and the team enters a rebuild. But what an incredible season Campbell had.