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Green Bay Packers sign Preston Smith to 4-year, $52.5 million extension, release Za’Darius Smith

GREEN BAY, Wis. –Preston Smith helped extend his career with the Green Bay Packers, and the team clawed back some much-needed salary cap space when they reached agreement on a new contract on Monday.

Meanwhile, Za’Darius Smith, the pass-rusher who signed from Green Bay in the same free agent class in 2019 as Preston Smith, saw his time with the Packers come to an end on Monday. The Packers release him, have sources told ESPN.

Preston Smith, who had one year and $12.5 million remaining on his existing contract, has signed a four-year, $52.5 million extension, a source told ESPN. Smith will earn $25 million over the next two seasons with the option to earn $31 million with incentives The entire deal could net Smith up to $71 million over five seasons if he hits all of them the incentives.

The release of Za’Darius Smith saves the Packers $15.75 million in salary cap space.

Preston Smith was expected to count $19.5 million on this year’s cap. The Packers were $45.5 million over their salary cap before Smith’s deal, which should reduce his cap charge by about $8 million to $9 million. done, will also reduce the Packers’ cap count.

The Packers are also releasing offensive tackle Billy Turner, a source tells ESPN. The move will immediately save them $3.142 million in cap space or $5.8 million if they designate him for an outing after June 1. .

The Packers must be under the cap by 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday when the 2022 league year begins.

Preston Smith teamed up with Rashan Gary to form a strong pair of passers last season while Za’Darius Smith has missed most of the year with a back injury. bags.

In seven seasons, he has 49.5 sacks and has only missed one game. He originally signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Packers in 2019.

Za’Darius Smith, who was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons with the Packers (2019 and 2020) and was a second-team All-Pro in 2020, had just 18 snaps in the last year in the regular season. All came in the season opener before he had back surgery. He didn’t return until the NFC Divisional Playoff game, a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Last offseason he tried to get a contract extension with the Packers, even changing agents in May, but he struggled with a back injury that kept him out of practice the offseason and most of training camp.

Za’Darius Smith was the most expensive free agent ever signed by general manager Brian Gutekunst, who offered him a four-year, $66 million deal. his first two seasons with the Packers. He was one of only three NFL players with 12+ sacks in 2019 and 2020, joining Aaron Donald and TJ Watt.

Also currently on the Packers cap is wide receiver Davante Adams’ $20.145 million franchise tag. Neither the Packers nor Adams want him to play under the label this season. This would provide Adams with no long-term security and would be difficult for the team to manage. Although there has been little progress in negotiations, Gutekunst said the use of the label is “more of a bridge to hopefully an extension down the road.” They will have until 4 p.m. ET on July 15 to find an extension.

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