The Green Bay Packers have been one of the busiest teams during the offseason, even if the 2022 league year hasn’t officially started yet.
Then there’s the potential holdout from Davante Adams after getting a $20.1 million franchise tag.
But the biggest update of all was Aaron Rodgers‘ return to Green Bay.
While the Packers’ offense will look intact for the 2022 NFL season, their defense needs work after releasing one of their key players.
The #Packers have released Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith, source said, adding another top defender to free agency. His cap number of $27.6M in 2022 was never going to work. Now, free — and healthy.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2022
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted, “The #Packers have released Pro Bowl pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith, source said, adding another top defender to free agency. His cap number of $27.6M in 2022 was never going to work. Now, free – and healthy.”
The 29-year old outside linebacker joined the Packers in 2019 after playing out his rookie contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
He signed a four-year, $66 million deal to play for Green Bay which included a $20 million signing bonus.
His release freed up $15.2 million of cap space for the Packers, but they still have $17 million to clear in order to stay under the $208.2 million cap for next season.
Smith missed all but one game last season, finishing with one tackle during their Divisional Weekend loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith’s Departure Was Inevitable
His huge cap hit for 2022 made him a prime candidate for getting released, considering the output he had last season.
Besides, Rashan Gary seems to be the player they need after he finished with 27 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2021.
Finally, De’Vondre Campbell patrols the middle of the field, making Smith a liability rather than an asset.