The Green Bay Packers needed a bounce-back season from Preston Smith and he delivered.
But what’s next? Did Smith do enough to land a new deal? His cap hit for 2022 is probably a lot higher than the Packers would like, so what options are there?
Let’s take a closer look.
Note: All salary cap numbers in this article are according to Over The Cap.
Preston Smith’s 2022 salary cap hit
Preston Smith’s cap hit rises to $19.72 million in 2022, the fifth-highest on the team. Only Aaron Rodgers, Za’Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, and Kenny Clark are set for bigger cap hits for the Packers.
What are the Packers’ options?
The Packers could release Preston Smith, a move that would save them $12.47 million on the 2022 cap. While that’s certainly a possibility, the fact they could also move on from Za’Darius Smith would make this tough. Releasing both would hurt Green Bay’s pass-rush depth significantly.
Given how well Preston Smith played this season, another option for Green Bay is to work on a contract extension, allowing them to spread money across multiple years. By doing so, it could reduce Smith’s 2022 cap hit.
Aaron Rodgers’ future could also come into play here.
If Rodgers is back, Green Bay will want to keep as many starters as possible. But if Rodgers is gone and the team goes into rebuild mode, it’s more likely they will release players to save cap room and start over.
I predict that Green Bay will work out a contract extension with Preston Smith and move on from Za’Darius Smith. The team would make some significant cap savings but would keep their top-two pass rushers from this season in Preston Smith and Rashan Gary.
The Packers could then focus on strengthening their pass-rush depth in the early rounds of the draft, bringing in an edge rusher to develop behind the starters, much like they did with Gary.