Release Za’Darius Smith
This is a tough one to write as, like many Packers fans, I love Za’Darius Smith. Smith was so exciting to watch in his first two seasons with the Packers, making 26 sacks in that time. It didn’t take him long to make an impact in his return from injury in the playoffs this season, either.
However, the Packers have to make some tough decisions this offseason. Restructures and new deals will help them get under the salary cap, but they may also need to release players too.
With a cap hit of $27.67 million in 2022, per Spotrac, second-highest on the team behind Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have no choice but to do something.
The two options are a contract extension or releasing Smith. According to Over The Cap, the Packers could create $11.3 million by extending Smith’s deal, but would create $15.28 million by releasing him.
Extending Smith’s contract would also come with some risk. The Pro Bowler turns 30 in September and is coming off a significant injury that limited him to just two games in 2021.
Regardless of Aaron Rodgers’ future, this is a move the Packers should make. If Rodgers is back, the cap savings would help the team re-sign some of their free agents. If Rodgers is gone and Green Bay enters rebuild mode, moving on would be the right call.