Report: Za'Darius Smith, Packers Restructure Contract After Aaron Jones Deal

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

Green Bay Packers' Za'Darius Smith reacts after sacking Carolina Panthers' Teddy Bridgewater during the second half of an NFL football game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 24-16. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers and linebacker Za'Darius Smith agreed to restructure his contract, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reported the move was necessary to help the Packers ultimately sign running back Aaron Jones. Jones agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with Green Bay, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

ESPN's Field Yates provided the details of the restructure:

Field Yates @FieldYates

In his restructured deal with the Packers, Za'Darius Smith had his $5M roster bonus and $9.76M of his base salary for 2021 converted into a signing bonus. That created $7.38M in cap space for Green Bay. Smith's cap # goes up for 2022, when he could be an extension candidate.

Smith has two years remaining on his four-year, $66 million contract. Zach Kruse of Packers Wire noted Wednesday's move could have big implications on the Packers' payroll if they don't work out a new contract with the two-time Pro Bowler:

Zach Kruse @zachkruse2

Za’Darius Smith already had a cap hit of $20,750,000 in 2022. Pushing 2021 cap money to 2022 will only increase it. Packers must be confident they’ll get an extension done at some point.

Smith signaled on Twitter his desire to remain with the team beyond 2022:

Za'Darius Smith @TheRealZSmith

I want to be a Packer for life‼️

The Packers were unable to retain All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who agreed to a five-year, $62.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero. There was simply no way they could match that while also retaining Jones. Smith's restructure is evidence of that.

The big question is whether Green Bay can lower Aaron Rodgers' cap number for 2021.

For the moment, Rodgers is set to have the biggest cap number ($37.6 million) in the league. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady both amended their contracts to help ease their team's financial situation, so perhaps the Packers star would follow suit.