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Packers restructure Za’Darius Smith’s contract, freeing up over $7M in 2021 cap space

This move should bring the Packers close to the cap after signing Aaron Jones.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers got themselves roughly even with the salary cap by Saturday evening. With restructures of contracts for Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner, Green Bay was able to shift cap space back into 2022 and beyond for those players, freeing up money to get closer to compliance with the cap that is set to kick in on Wednesday.

But with the big new contract for Aaron Jones and decisions coming in on restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, the team created the need to add more space. They have now done so, restructuring edge rusher Za’Darius Smith’s contract.

Smith, like Preston Smith, Amos, and Turner, had been scheduled to enter the third year of the four-year deal he signed in 2019. With a cap number scheduled to be $22 million for 2021, he was a logical candidate to get some money shifted. However, unlike those three players, many expected Za’Darius to get a true contract extension, adding additional years onto his deal beyond the scheduled expiration after 2022.

Instead, Ian Rapoport’s report says that this is a contract restructure rather than an extension, which implies that it simply shifts cap money from 2021 into 2022. Smith has a $10.75 million base salary and a $5 million roster bonus in 2021. The team could reduce his base salary to about $1 million and convert the remaining $14.75 million to a signing bonus, which would shift back $7.38 million into the 2022 season. However, that would raise Smith’s 2022 cap number up over $28 million, all but mandating that the team sign him to an extension sometime between now and the start of the 2022 league year.

Stay tuned for details of this restructure, but it sounds from this report like the Packers will be under the cap at 4:00 PM today. The team will still need to free up some additional space in the coming days and weeks, however, particularly if they intend to sign any outside free agents. Look for a potential contract extension for Davante Adams or a restructure of Aaron Rodgers’ contract to come in short order.

UPDATE: The restructure is indeed for the maximum amount described above, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Smith’s base salary reduces to the league minimum of $990,000, with the remaining $9.76 million in base and $5 million in roster bonus converting to a signing bonus. Half of that number, $7.38 million, applies to the 2021 cap, dropping his cap number for this year to $14.62 million, while the same number is added onto 2022 to make his cap number next season $28.13 million.