The Green Bay Packers have an incredibly young team, especially on offense. Indeed, the most experienced players on their roster are mainly defensive players. As a result, the team as a whole will lean on the defense not only to improve in 2023, but to lead their young players through the trials and tribulations of a full NFL season. That being said, there are still those out there that believe the Packers should still part ways with some of their veterans.
One NFL Writer Encourages the Green Bay Packers to Trade Preston Smith
Of the three star defensive free agents that the Packers signed during the 2019 offseason, only Preston Smith remains. Adrian Amos is currently an unsigned free agent and Za’Darius Smith has found his way to the Cleveland Browns. In four seasons with the Packers, Smith has accumulated 33.5 sacks, over half his career total of 58.
As the team gets ready for the 2023 regular season, many wonder if this is a year in which the Packers will finish poorly. In order to get the young players on their roster more playing time, some believe that Green Bay should part ways with more of their veteran players. In a recent article posted by Bleacher Report, Kristopher Knox argues that Preston Smith is the one player that the Packers should look to trade this offseason:
“Whether the Green Bay Packers want to admit it or not, they’re rebuilding after trading Aaron Rodgers and turning the offense over to Jordan Love. Veterans like Rodgers, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Marcedes Lewis are out, and a youth movement should be incoming.
“This is part of the reason why Green Bay should consider trading leading sack artist Preston Smith (8.5 sacks in 2022) despite signing him to a four-year extension last offseason.
“Dealing Smith would require Green Bay to eat $18.1 million in dead money. However, it would save $2.3 million in cap space this year and $2.5 million in 2024. The added savings could be important, as budding star and pass-rusher Rashan Gary is slated to be a free agent in 2024.
“Gary is only 25 years old and can be a part of Green Bay’s future. Smith will turn 31 in November and might not see the end of his contract with the Packers if he sticks around.
“By trading Smith, the Packers could get a look at what they have in the tandem of Gary and rookie first-round pick Lukas Van Ness. It could be worth taking the dead-money hit just to evaluate the new pass-rushing rotation before Smith hits the market next spring—the Packers, after all, just ate $40 million in dead money to clear a path for Love.
“Plus, as a still-productive pass-rusher, Smith would likely bring back valuable compensation in a trade that could be used to further build around Love and the new-look Packers offense.”
The rebuilding term is one that Packers players themselves (aside from David Bakhtiari) have refused to use. They still believe that they can be competitive in 2023. And why not? The NFC as a whole is much weaker than the AFC, and the NFC North projects to be its weakest division. A finish of 10-7 could very well win the division, and is entirely possible considering Green Bay’s relatively easy schedule. Should a possible playoff team part ways with one of its most experienced pass rushers? I don’t think it is a good idea.
Then there is the question of depth at edge rusher. Yes, the Packers addressed their lack of depth in the 2023 NFL Draft by taking Lukas Van Ness in the first round. However, Rashan Gary is recovering from an ACL tear and may not be 100% by Week One. Trading Smith may hurt that depth early. It may be better to wait.