The Packers Are Cutting OL Billy Turner and Pass-Rusher Za'Darius Smith, Because Ya Gotta Create Cap Space Somehow

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The Packers Are Cutting OL Billy Turner and Pass-Rusher Za’Darius Smith, Because Ya Gotta Create Cap Space Somehow

Chicago Bears

Aaron Rodgers’ return to the Packers was met largely with eye rolls from Bears fans. And frankly, fans from all around the NFC North (and probably NFL) who have grown weary of the reigning MVP’s schtick.

But in order to bring Rodgers back and fit his salary within the confines of the cap, something had to give.

To this point of the day, it is two big somethings:

Those are two sizable cuts by the Packers.

Pass rusher Za’Darius Smith and offensive lineman Billy Turner have been shown the door in Green Bay. Not so much because of their performance. But instead, because of the cap conundrum the Cheeseheads find themselves in just days before the start of the new league year. The Packers began the day $35,566,145 over the league’s projected $208.2 million salary cap. These cuts move the needle, getting Green Bay to $16,925,483 — which is still *OVER* the cap, mind you. But at this point of the process, every penny counts.

Smith is the more high-profile name of the two soon-to-be ex-Packers. A stellar free agent signing in 2019, Smith produced consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in his first two years with the Packers. His 2020 campaign also was met with second-team All-Pro recognition. Injuries kept Smith off the field for all but one game this season. Despite an injury shortened 2021, Smith figures to be one of the most highly-sought-after free agent pass-rushers this offseason.

As for Turner, I can’t help but wonder if there is a potential Bears fit. A three-year contributor in Green Bay who was a starter for 43 games over the last three seasons. PFF grades of 67.1 (2021), 70.5 (2020), and 63.4 (2018) put Turner in that middle tier of offensive tackles. That isn’t all that inspiring. But familiarity with Luke Getsy (Chicago’s new OC who was in GB last year) and the Bears’ need at the position might make it worth exploring this possibility. Turner will play the 2022 season at age 31, so it isn’t as if he would be a long-term fixture. However, he could be a sensible bridge option if this front office doesn’t like its current collection of choices.

In any case, we’ll need to keep an eye on the Packers. Not just because of their proximity as a divisional foe and long-time rival. But also to see how much carnage will commence as they push to squeeze under the cap. Stay tuned.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.