GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 24: Aaron Rodgers #12 talks with Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur as Jordan Love #10 listens during the game against the Washington Football Team at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay defeated Washington 24-10. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
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The Green Bay Packers cap situation doesn’t look ideal for next season, but it has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has a potential opt-out after 2022, so it’s quite possible the Packers shop him if he’s still not happy in Green Bay. However, it’s Rodgers’ teammate that could cost the Packers a pretty penny, and they don’t have much of an option but to pay him.
That would be Za’Darius Smith.
On the surface, Smith’s contract isn’t that outlandish for next year — he’s only set to make $14.5 million. However, it’s his salary cap hit that could screw over the Packers when trying to add in free agency and through the trade market.
Top non-QB salary cap hits 2022
1. TJ Watt- $31.1M
2. Khalil Mack- $30.2M
3. Chris Jones- $29.4M
4. Joey Bosa- $28.3M
5. Za’Darius Smith- $28.1M
6. Marshon Lattimore- $27.5M
7. Leonard Williams- $27.3M
8. Demarcus Lawrence- $27M
9. Aaron Donald- $26.8M
10. Frank Clark- $26.3M
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) December 1, 2021
Per Over the Cap, Smith’s cap hit is over $28 million. While the Packers could re-negotiate Smith’s contract with the hopes of pushing some of that cap hit further down the road, Brian Gutekunst will have to work some sort of salary cap gymnastics. Given Za’Darius is making under $1 million this year, per Spotrac, he’ll want to earn all his change come 2022.
Packers: Za’Darius Smith’s contract another issue this offseason
The Packers’ primary concern will be Rodgers this offseason. Convincing their Hall-of-Fame signal-caller to hang around, or opting to move off of him in favor of Jordan Love, is a decision that will define Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur’s careers.
Add in Davante Adams — the Packers star wideout and Rodgers’ favorite weapon whose contract runs up after this season — and one can see why Gutekunst would have a hard time sleeping at night.