Could a core defender be on the chopping block?
With the Green Bay Packers needing to juggle cap space this season, one NFL writer thinks the team could move on from a core defender. The Packers got a minor boost for their salary cap situation yesterday. The NFL increased the salary cap for next season by just north of $16 million per team. However, the Packers will still need to be frugal this offseason.
Much of what the Packers do with the roster in free agency will have to do with Aaron Rodgers’ future. Rodgers has stated he wants to be part of a reload, not a rebuild. He’s more inclined to want veterans back that he has experience with. The Packers will evaluate how that fits into their life after Rodgers leaves Green Bay.
Is the future of Preston Smith not in Green Bay?
Kristopher Knox thinks a Packers’ core defender could be on the chopping block regardless of whether Rodgers dons a green and gold uniform in 2023. Writing in Bleacher Report, Knox wrote that the Packers should consider cutting edge rusher Preston Smith to save cap room:
“The Packers have a very top-heavy roster and a lot of money invested into core pieces.
Pass-rusher Preston Smith, for example, is set to carry a cap hit of $13 million in 2023. He has $9.8 million in dead money on his contract, but Green Bay could save $10.6 million by releasing him with a post-June 1 designation.
If the Packers don’t believe that they can simply reload and make another run at the Super Bowl in 2023—with or without Rodgers—this is a move that would make sense. Green Bay has a rising star in pass-rusher Rashan Gary, while Smith will turn 31 during the coming season.
While Smith had a solid 8.5 sacks and 27 quarterback pressures in 2022, he’s never been a Pro Bowler, and his time in Green Bay may be approaching its end anyway.”
Smith had a great season for the Packers in 2022. He took over for the pass rush when core defender Rashan Gary was placed on the injured reserve. The Packers need to build up their pass rush, not tear down what had been an already weak pass-rushing unit. However, the best way to build the pass rush back up economically might be through the draft.