Report: Preston Smith takes pay cut to stay with Packers in 2024

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Preston Smith will return for another season with the Green Bay Packers.

Smith's future in Green Bay wasn't guaranteed due to his rising salary cap hit, but the two sides have come to an agreement to ensure he will be back. ESPN's Field Yates reported that the Packers have restructured Smith's contract, a move that creates $2.4 million in cap space this year.

However, it goes further than that. According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, Smith has agreed to take a pay cut. He was supposed to earn $12.4 million.

It's a selfless move from Smith and one that helps the Packers.

Report: Preston Smith will return to Packers in 2024 after taking pay cut

The Packers are in the process of clearing cap space before the start of the new league year. It started earlier this week when they restructured Rashan Gary's deal, creating almost $5 million.

This decision by Smith helps the Packers add more cap space, and that's before they make a decision on David Bakhtiari's future. Green Bay will save almost $21 million by trading or releasing Bakhtiari.

Restructuring Smith's deal is significant. Unlike other restructures where money is pushed into future years, the Packers have saved cap space with Smith taking a pay cut. Green Bay gets the short-term benefits without the future salary cap headaches.

Smith's contract was due to account for $16.5 million on the Packers' salary cap, which made him a potential cut candidate. Ahead of his age-32 season, Smith may not have been able to land a better deal elsewhere, so staying in Green Bay makes sense.

And it helps the Packers. They have found a way to keep an important starter on defense. Smith is coming off an excellent season, finishing with eight sacks, 21 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, and four pass defenses. He gets pressure on quarterbacks but is equally as good against the run. More than just his production, Smith is a leader in the locker room.

It lessens the need to add another pass rusher this offseason, as the Packers will enter 2024 with a top three of Rashan Gary, Smith, and Lukas Van Ness. Thanks to this move, they also have additional cap space to address other areas of need in free agency.

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