If you haven’t heard by now, the Green Bay Packers salary cap situation is not “good”. (They started the offseason about $50 million OVER the cap). Some people will tell you that the salary cap “isn’t real” but it is. It may not be “real” when you’re trying to squeeze out a few more years for a player like Aaron Rodgers or David Bakhtiari, but there are very real cap casualties. While we wait on the uncertain future of Davante Adams or the contract for #12, the Packers made some cuts today:
Za’Darius Smith, LB
This one shouldn’t surprise anyone. I mean, he DID wipe his social media of all things green & gold. The pass rushing specialist who had 26 sacks in 2019 & 2020 combined, played in just the 1st & last games of 2021. His cap number this year was going to be nearly $28 million which was NOT going to happen, especially coming off the injured 2021 season. By cutting Smith, Green Bay adds about $12 million to the dead cap but saves about $15 million in salary cap space. “Z” was a fantastic signing 3 year ago and has been huge in turning the Packers defense around. Look for 4th year Linebacker, Rashan Gary (who had 9.5 sacks last year) and newly extended OLB, Preston Smith to fill the void.
Billy Turner, OL
It’s tough to find a more valuable member of the Packers offensive line (not named Bakhtiari) over the past few seasons than Billy Turner. He started 43 games and literally played EVERYWHERE. Right Tackle? Done. Left Tackle? Done. Guard? Hot dog salesman? Done and done. Turner can do it all and that’s why he will likely find a home and get a good payday elsewhere now that the Packers have released him. By doing so, Green Bay saves about $3.5 million in cap space. Aaron Rodgers even called Turned a “Pro Bowl caliber Right Tackle” last season. Assuming Bak gets right and Right Tackle Elgton Jenkins comes back from his ACL injury, the Packers offensive line SHOULD be OK. Look for Yosh Nijman’s name here too.
Green Bay STILL has a long way to go but moves like today’s cuts (roughly 17.5 million cap space created) along with potential future cuts (Randall Cobb?) and perhaps “other” ways to free up salary (Mason Crosby’s retirement?) get the ball rolling. Restructuring Kenny Clark and Bakhtiari helps as well and of course, extending Jaire Alexander will create some cap space for 2022. Today’s cuts + extending/restructuring Preston Smith should clear around $26 million. We don’t know what QB1’s deal will look like and no one knows what #17 will do but one thing is for sure: The Packers aren’t out of the woods yet. Don’t be surprised if names like Cobb, Crosby, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Dean Lowry or others get released.
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