The Packers need to give first-round pick Lukas Van Ness more opportunities. Even if he doesn't take on a starting role this season, there's a good chance he will in 2024. Van Ness still has a lot to improve, and that will take time. But his speed, power, and athleticism are evident every time he plays.
Van Ness was never expected to start every game as a rookie. The Packers wanted to give him time to develop, which they could with Rashan Gary and Preston Smith starting. Kingsley Enagbare could also start in games Gary or Smith missed.
But that could change next season.
Smith is a solid starter, but he just turned 31, and the Packers need to lower his upcoming cap hits. Like with De'Vondre Campbell's deal, releasing Smith in the offseason would only create $2.5 million of cap space immediately, but it's the future impact that needs to be considered.
According to Over The Cap, Green Bay will pay a combined $53.89 million in cap hits between 2024-27 on Smith's contract. The Packers would reduce that to $13.99 million by moving on, which would all be paid in 2024. It's a move the Packers may have to make, especially if the plan is to get Van Ness more involved next season.