Packers Could Trade Star Pass Rusher In Stunning Move

Preston Smith, Green Bay Packers
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

If NFL teams were stocks and one had to choose one to invest in right now, many would choose the Green Bay Packers.

Few believed in the Packers at this time last year. The team had just traded franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and his successor, Jordan Love, wasn’t necessarily expected to succeed, especially right away.

But after some early struggles, Love did very well in November, December and January. He finished second in the league in passing touchdowns and helped carry the Packers to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, where they held a third-quarter lead over the San Francisco 49ers before losing 24-21.

Everyone is high on the Packers right now, and it isn’t only because of Love or even because of their young and promising wide receivers. Their defense isn’t too shabby either.

However, according to Anthony DiBona of Pro Football Network, one of Green Bay’s stalwarts on defense could be traded not too long from now.

“After signing Rashan Gary to a massive contract extension, the Green Bay Packers could look to move on from Preston Smith this season,” wrote DiBona. “The Packers selected Lukas Van Ness with the No. 13 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, as he could potentially replace Smith moving forward.

“Although Smith has enjoyed plenty of success in Green Bay, the 32-year-old pass rusher could be on the move. If the Packers were to trade Smith this season, they would potentially save a total of $37.5 million.”

The Packers may be forced to move Preston Smith to trim some fat

Smith was second in sacks on the Packers behind Gary with 8.0 of them last season, and he also had four passes defended and two forced fumbles. The defensive end has been with them for five seasons after spending his first four years with the then-Washington Redskins.

Love is going to need a contract extension soon, as will at least one of their young wideouts, so trimming payroll could be a necessary part of the Packers’ return to the NFL’s elite.

Van Ness had 4.0 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits in 2023 while playing linebacker. As a team, Green Bay finished 10th in points allowed and passing touchdowns allowed and ninth in passing yards given up last season.

Smith is under contract for three more seasons thanks to a contract extension he agreed to in 2022. Although he recently had his contract restructured, he will have a $14.1 cap hit for the 2024 season, a $17.5 cap hit for 2025 and a $18.2 cap hit for 2026, according to Spotrac.com.

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