Packers Restructure Za'Darius Smith's Deal

The Packers went big.  According to Field Yates, the team restructured the contract of Za'Darius Smith to generate $7.38 million in additional cap space.  Many expected the team to extend his deal, but instead they reduced his base salary from $10,750,000 to $990K and converted all of his $5 million roster bonus to a signing bonus. 

The move reduced his salary cap number from $22 million to $14.62 million for 2021, but it increased his cap number from $20.75 million to $28.13 million with a potential dead money charge of $12.38 million next season.  It is very difficult to envision Smith playing with a $28.38 million cap charge in 2022.  It seems likely that the Packers will extend Smith at some point.  Smith will be 30 next season, so the first year of any extension he would be 31 years old.

This move should be enough to get the Packers under the salary cap limit under the Rule of 51 with almost $1.3 million to spare, assuming that the Packers have not yet submitted the contract extension of Aaron Jones to the league.  If they have submitted Jones' contract, then it appears that even if they have finalized and submitted Billy Turner's restructure, the team would still be a little over the salary cap limit. 

It has not yet been announced whether the contract extension for Jones or Turner's restructured deal have has been submitted to the NFL.  Moreover, there has been no reporting on the final numbers for either Jones' or Turner's new deals.

The Packers could have generated more cap savings by extending Za'Darius Smith.  Since this move does not change his overall compensation level, it would appear that the Packers could negotiate an extension later this year, or next year.  In light of Za'Darius' recent tweet about becoming a Packer for life, it may be that the parties were unable hammer out the terms of an extension in time for the new league year.

The Packers have to be in compliance with the salary cap by today at 3:00 P.M.. CST. If there are no more moves, the team must be in compliance already.  

The Packer Tracker article has been updated to reflect Za'Darius Smith's restructure.  It will be updated again when the terms of Jones' and Turner's deals are known.

 

 

 

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Comments (27)

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Leatherhead's picture

March 17, 2021 at 11:54 am

Thank you TGR, for the intel.

You keep assuming that we're going to extend guys like Smith and Adams and that we're going to push cap hits into the future. I don't share that assumption. If we fall short again this year, I think there's a real possibility of big changes that would involve several higher paid vets.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:03 pm

I am no longer assuming Z. Smith, though you are right that I have been. That's fait accompli.

We shall see about Adams. And AR. They still need $10M plus probably another $5M for a few cheap re-signs and probably an outside UFA. It has to come from somewhere.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:40 pm

As an intellectual exercise, consider this:

We have a disappointing season, finish like 10-6, don't win the division, don't make it back to the championship game.

We could trade Rodgers, part company with other high dollar guys like Adams and Z . What kind of a team could you actually put around Love with the draft picks and available FA money? IMO, you could put a pretty good team on the field.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:09 pm

I will take a look. Recall that I did write an article about potential problems in 2022, before Z, before Jones, before Turner all loaded 2022 with more cap liabilities than seemed possible.

Even before Z, I don't think GB would have had a lot of cap space in 2022. Pardon me, but my brain is a little fried from looking at the Packers' spreadsheets I make.

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PeteK's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:53 pm

Wow, a very thought provoking question. It all depends on individual performances. If high priced veterans under perform; I would think that they would be released. Also, the success of the next two drafts would factor greatly. Furthermore, it all starts with the O line, and many questions on that will be answered this season. Finally, I agree.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Tom Silverstein reports that the Packers actually generated $3.56M in cap savings in the Billy Turner restructure. That means they spread the sum converted from base and roster bonus to a signing bonus out over 4 years.

This suggests that the Packers inserted three, count 'em, three VOID YEARS.

Wow! All-in and All-Aboard this train.

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dobber's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:33 pm

If you're Turner, is it such a bad thing? He can get back on the market either pre-30 or in his 30-year-old season and earn one more bolus of guaranteed cash.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:12 pm

Turner will be 32 after the 2022 season.

No, I agree with you. It makes it harder to cut Turner in 2022. These deals are probably all very good for the players. They are only good for the Packers if they reach a Super Bowl, I suppose. Some might require a Lombardi trophy.

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dobber's picture

March 17, 2021 at 02:24 pm

You're right...daylight saving time and Covid shot kicking my butt.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Ken Ingalls reports that the cap numbers for Aaron Jones will be as follows:
2021: $4.475M
2022: $9.0M
2023: $19.25M
2024: $15.25M

Total: $47.975M

That blows my mind. His incentives, if any, must all be likely to be earned or they are straight roster and salary.

In essence, though, it should be a 2 year, $20M deal with $6.5 dead. NFL = Not (Necessarily) For Long.

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porupack's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:30 pm

wow. I'm not a buy now pay later guy except when interest rates are negative, or other financial prudent shenanigans. $28 m next year, or throw away $12 dead money? Wow. Or I guess they hope the cap readjusts and they can do another extension and punt some more dollars down the road. I would like to be Z Smith's agent right now :)

I wanted to see ARodgers contract restructured, and ask him to make room for the guy who protects him, Mr. Linsley. Seems it would have been a fair thing to ask and work out. Very sorry to see Linsley go.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:05 pm

Is there a way to put a banner at the top of this article: OS - take any medicine you may have been prescribed prior to reading this article and the comments!!!!

And absolutely before you look at the Packer Tracker. I've got GB with something in the area of $255M in cap liabilities for 2022 with Jaire, Davante, Patrick and MVS. Yes, they will do a bunch, but that's a lot of money!!! The cap better go up. Ken Ingalls suggested that the Packers might be $40M + over a 205M 2022 cap.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 17, 2021 at 02:20 pm

Well, I manage my blood pressure pretty well with just exercise and diet. No medication needed for that. I used to have a website that would allow you to put crawler headlines on individual posts....very useful for things like Sarcasm Alerts.

The article is fine. Straightforward, not a lot of editorializing, numbers are as accurate as you can make them. Some of the comments blow me away, but then again, that's why I don't read most of the comments.

Once again, I don't see how this is sustainable. IMO, we're loading up to take our best possible shot with Rodgers this year. A bad loss on the road in the Championship game in 2019, followed by a close loss at home that we kind of gave away the next year.

If we don't get to the Super Bowl this year, we're going to make some changes involving our high dollar personnel. That's my belief.

I wouldn't bet the farm on the cap going up a huge amount. Lots of clouds are still on the financial horizon for the NFL. State and Local governments have basically said they can lockdown businesses if they feel like it, and that could still happen, even with the vaccine.

And that to the people that have stopped following the NFL because they're disgusted by the political slant and you could very well have revenues that are better than 2020, but not as good as 2019, and the cap would reflect that.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 03:55 pm

Eh, thanks, I think? I mean, one-third of the comments were mine!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 18, 2021 at 12:33 am

I actually really like the comments section. Not that the authors aren't astute, but I feel that I often learn things from the comment section.

I try not to editorialize too much. I took the time to learn the cap, but as to Xs and Os, player evaluations, I claim no special competence.

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ShawnO's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:10 pm

OK.... So what do the Packers do if he declines even more this next season? Are they going to extend him then? It looks to be their only option at this point. You don't want to have the 28 mil cap hit next year for a declining player or end up with 12.38 mil in dead money....they better hope he extends at a discount if this happens.

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13TimeChamps's picture

March 17, 2021 at 01:28 pm

Declines "even more"?

I wasn't aware Za'Darius Smith declined last year. I believe he made both Pro Bowl and All Pro squads this past year. Are you sure you aren't confusing him with Preston Smith, who most would agree declined last year?

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CoachDino's picture

March 17, 2021 at 03:00 pm

Z declined, picked it up toward the end. Part of it was just due to what a great year he had in year 1. He's still a stud.

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CoachDino's picture

March 17, 2021 at 03:00 pm

Z declined, picked it up toward the end. Part of it was just due to what a great year he had in year 1. He's still a stud.

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stockholder's picture

March 17, 2021 at 02:21 pm

Interesting how everything is moved back a year. Can't tell me there isn't something more then a PR Game with Rodgers.

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frankthefork's picture

March 17, 2021 at 03:05 pm

Pressure is on Gutey and the FO in this years draft. That 2022 cap is crazy. Thanks TGR...hug the cat for comfort (and good luck).

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CoachDino's picture

March 17, 2021 at 03:53 pm

Great conversation with limited all/never/won't/can't type posts. More if, why, then, yet, if type posts. If any of that makes sense.

SEEMs, maybe..lol...that its much like I see being posted. This is the all in year

Then if:

1)They all play well and win or come close
2)Play well but drastic decline in key players (QB/Edge/WR/RB)
3)The wheels fall off
4)Somewhere in between all of the above

They most likely have a plan of action for each.

For Z it may be a case of his next extension pays him like a #2 edge guy as gary becomes the #1. They cap hit might be off for a year or they could extend it. Edge Players get paid big Bucks - That's why I could see them taking one this year if it's the best value.

They will extend JA/DA to possible push money out past 2022 (if that's possible - taking the bigger hits in 2023 and 2024 and so on.. - would have to guarantee it)

Obvious AJ deal is just a 2 year 18mil ish deal (obviously Drew R is full of [email protected]#, there is no RB market out there). He contract is the biggest reason I think they are "Kinda" going all in this year.

The elephant in the room is AR.
1) Cut Him after 2021/22
2) Ask him to take a Tom Brady Like Deal (25 mil vs 40 mil) for a ext with 3 year Guaranteed contract thru 2027). retires a Packer at 44yo
3) 1 more year (thu 2022/23)

Whether love is the answer or not AR at 45Mil per year for 3-5 years is not the answer.

What the packers have over most teams in this situation is a QB in waiting that in most years is going to cost you a top 5 pick or Max contract and multiple 1st rd picks to obtain. Doesn't mean love will be the answer, same as lawrence, Fields, Lance Wilson, or all the flops in recent years. Most don't work out. The point is, packers don't need to tank to get a shot at one.

Who was the last max QB contract to win a SB?

I think it was Richard Sherman who made the point about chasing a ring. Basically Football is much different than basketball, Baseball, Hockey etc where due to the limited games, Higher risk of injury, One and out playoff format, Amount of players involved etc it is very difficult to make it to the SB regardless of your roster before the season starts, if you can even obtain a roster that's that much better than the rest of the best teams. Doesn't mean players don't put weight on the possibility but they realize its still a long shot.

So if players all realize this and temper the "in for a ring" mentality due to it why wouldn't fans and media feel the same way. the players are as close to the source as you can get.

I understand media, they are a business. It's fans I don't understand. prime example is the "what a waste having 2 HOF QBs and only 2 SB wins" shows just how bad the packers GM's have been/They don't care about winning/won't spend money/etc. How little knowledge one must have to believe that drivel. Do your homework. History is littered with HOF/Best of the era QB's who won one or none....

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 18, 2021 at 01:12 am

Very true. A GM can assemble a ton of talent, but if AR, Bakh, Z. Smith, or Clark are unavailable for a playoff game or two, it is going to be very difficult to win. That, and the one and out format, is why a lot of teams that went "all-in" don't come away with the prize. I don't think that's a reason to not go if not all the way "all-in" then closer to that extreme when the situation is right.

At best, going "all-in" should be looked at as simply increasing a team's chances of winning it all. Even the best teams, NE and KC recently, have something like a 15 to 33% probability or winning a super bowl in any given year.

I think an NFL team is cyclical. $45M for AR is a problem, but not one that I think will ever happen unless there is a seamless transition to another high quality QB. I assume that AR will retire in Year X, and in year X + 1 GB will dump $25M of his dead money. The team will be bad for a year, get a high pick and try their luck on a QB prospect.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 18, 2021 at 04:48 am

For all the people obsessed with drafting for need, they should take a gander at the 2022 cap hits to more accurately assess that need for this April. I'll enter broken record mode and again say every draft pick is for the future. Rooks stink. Yr 2 is much more realistic to expect a contribution,

The Packers have a whopping $47.88 mil committed to the Smiths at edge rusher in 2022 according to OTC. There is a 0.0% chance they will pay that, IMO. Will they keep Adrian Amos @ 11.6 mil? More palatable but not a slam dunk. It's been said several times they have 0 WRs under contract. Assuming Tonyan is retained on his RFA tender in 2021, he's a FA in 2022 and much more dicey to retain. They want to be in a position of strength on the roster as they navigate those waters, like they did when they drafted Gary to back up the Smiths. Or drafting 3 IOL in round 6 last year, with Linsley approaching FA.

So add Edge, Safety, TE and WR to the wish list that already has OT, CB, LB and DL.

What's not on that list? IOL and RB? You can make a decent case that they need 3 RBs and it should be on the wish list. IOL is not on my list only because I expect the trio they drafted last year to take a step up. Which raises the question of who else might step up? I kinda liked the way Vernon Scott and Henry Black looked. So maybe scratch Safety back off. Anyone else? Jonathan Garvin? Kamal Martin? Dunno. Don't see practice and didn't see enough of either on game day to really form an opinion.

All in all, it takes you back to the one true need in the draft: To grab the best player available without much concern about the state of the roster as it exists. Counting on a rook to fill is need in yr 1 is a fool's choice. Just like thinking you can know what you need 2 years out is a fools choice. Another fool's choice is thinking there is any such thing as too many good players at a position. I saw a tweet saying that Aaron Jones contract makes last year's 2nd rounder, AJ Dillon, less valauble. If the aim of the tweet was comedic, it worked like a charm. I sure laughed.

Tough gig being a GM.

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CoachDino's picture

March 18, 2021 at 05:15 am

1)AR solution - ride him till he dies and start over is a viable option. Who knows if he has 1 year or 5 more good years in him. looks like the latter. What a PR mess doing it any other way. already did that with Favre. I like to lean on odds in my opinions yet whats the odds of Love being another even Top 5 Qb for 5-7 seasons when he took over? So why not be more all in? Once again you are helping me be more open to change.

2)QB Salaries are one thing cap are another (I'm becoming more aware of the importance of knowing), AR cap is 40mil next year and 28Mil the year after. So thats 37Mil 2021 40Mil 2022 and 28mil 2023. How could they even restructure? Spread 10mil over 2 years 2022/2023? then push out another 5 mil year again to 2023? That 40 mil per year for 2022 and 23 and but 32 mil this year. worth it? Extend him? He'll want Dak Money to start with or more, So I don't see AR being under 40 mil anytime soon for the Packers after this season.

3) Only 1 team in the top 4 of odds to win the sb made it in the last 2 seasons.

This season the Packers are currently 3rd at 8%, TB 2nd at 11%, KC 1st/best at 16% Pretty steep fall off shortly after that.
Is there a move out there that impacts the odds in the Packers Favor? What impact would will Fuller have? 1% or so?

I'm not saying don't make moves, all I'm saying is the odds are really against you, in what business or venture would you spend X capital to improve your probability for success by Y, yet still have less than a 1 in 10 chance for it to pay off?
Is it cheap or prudent? Not to mention that those resource spent will reduce your odds of success in the future.
Top 4 SB odds "consistently" vs "sporadically" does that make a difference and how much are the moves now impact odds later. Having slightly lower single season odds but having more chances at the outcome would give you a better shot over time. Making it even a lower probability of overall success of obtaining a SB victory. The dreaded FA vicious cycle. Jets.Wash. Dal, NO, Atl, Bears, Vikings etc..
I need to step away from all this statistical analysis its getting carried away. Plus my "Business" point might be mute due to the NFL not being a free market industry, so many of the statical data and takeaways will be seen in different terms.

too much coffee this morning....

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Since'61's picture

March 18, 2021 at 08:52 am

This is shaping up for either 2022 or 2023 to be the beginning of a huge rebuild. There is no way that the Packers can keep pushing all of these huge contracts "down the road". They are trying to keep a very good team together to try and win an SB in the next year or two. Hopefully they will achieve it.

Whether or not AR is still here beyond 2022 will be a matter of how the Packers restructure his contract. Even then who knows how much of a team will be left around him. It's too early to tell but it looks like the Packers plan is to start over with rebuilding the team around Love or maybe another QB drafted between now and 2023. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 18, 2021 at 10:43 pm

IDK. I expect that cap to break $260M by 2024 and to break $300M by 2026.

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