2. Preston Smith
Sometimes, the business aspect of the NFL is the most difficult. The Green Bay Packers are not often major players in NFL free agency, so when they are selectively aggressive, it's worth noting.
They gave Preston Smith a big-money contract back in 2019, signing him to a four-year deal worth $52 million in total money. That deal actually turned out to be quite the bargain for the Packers, as Smith immediately set a career-high of 12 sacks in his first year with the team.
Since joining Green Bay, Smith has averaged 19 QB hits and nine sacks per 17 games. He's also averaging 26 pressures per year since he arrived in Green Bay, and the former second-round pick by Washington has certainly lived up to his NFL Draft billing.
The Packers simply find themselves at a crossroads here. Does Preston Smith still have time to offer Green Bay value in the pass rush department off the edge? Absolutely, but the Packers don't have a lot of salary cap space right now ($4.8 million), and Smith is due a roster bonus of $5.7 million coming up in mid-March.
The Packers have to decide if they are going to commit that cash to him, along with a salary cap hit of over $16.5 million. The decision to move on from Preston Smith isn't an easy one, but the Packers planned for this "out" in his contract and drafted Lukas Van Ness in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
The timing is right for the team to move on.