4. Release Preston Smith
Cap savings: $2.5 million
Unfortunately, not every decision is straightforward. The Packers must make difficult choices this offseason, and one could be moving on from veteran pass rusher Preston Smith.
Smith started all 17 games, contributing eight sacks and 21 quarterback hits. He provided consistency all year, only failing to register a sack or QB hit in six games. Smith is also a strong run defender.
However, the Packers must think long-term. Smith turns 32 next season. While Green Bay will only create around $2.5 million by releasing Smith this spring, the future impact on the salary cap is more significant. Smith has cap hits above $17.5 million in 2025 and 2026. Moving on this offseason would result in short-term pain—the Packers would pay $14 million in dead cap—but his contract would come off the books in 2025.
First-round pick Lukas Van Ness flashed potential in his rookie season, especially later in the year. The Packers will want to increase his workload moving forward, and releasing Smith is a way to get there. Green Bay could then bolster its pass-rush depth in the draft, building behind its starting combination of Van Ness and Rashan Gary.
Releasing Smith would be a tough decision, but the Packers must consider the long-term financial impact.