There are several reasons why releasing Preston Smith in the offseason makes sense.
From a roster-building perspective, it would allow first-round pick Lukas Van Ness to expand his role and become a full-time starter in year two. Smith enters his age-32 season in 2024, so turning the page to Van Ness is the correct call. It will accelerate Van Ness's development to give him more opportunities after this season.
But the salary-cap ramifications are even greater.
If the Packers do nothing to Smith's contract, they will eat cap hits of $16.51 million, $17.51 million, and $18.21 million over the following three seasons. Allowing that to happen would be a complete failure on the part of Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball.
Releasing Smith won't help the cap much in 2024, but the long-term impact is far more significant. Green Bay would only save $2.52 million next year, resulting in a massive dead cap hit of $13.99 million for a player no longer on the roster. However, the Packers would pay nothing after next season. The cap hits north of $17 million in 2025 and 2026? Gone.
Like with the Aaron Rodgers trade, Green Bay wouldn't feel the benefits immediately, but it would significantly help future caps by moving on from Smith in the offseason.