For Packers, Za’Darius Smith’s contract will have to wait

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When it rains, it pours. According to Pro Football Talk, Green Bay Packers edge rusher Za’Darius Smith is the latest player to have frustration with the team. Earlier this offseason, Smith’s contract did get restructured despite his desire for an extension. While Smith has been a good pickup for Green Bay, his displeasure is low on the pecking order compared to other high-profile teammates.

The Packers are trying to navigate choppy waters, as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams reportedly have legitimate gripes with the front office. Like Smith, Rodgers has multiple years left on his current contract. However, Rodgers is one of the main reasons this team was one game away from the Super Bowl in the last two years. At the moment, Rodgers’ disgruntlement is ambiguous but is also a legitimate threat to his future with the team.

It has recently surfaced that Adams and Green Bay are going through a stalemate with their contract negotiations. Adams has one year remaining on his current deal and is seeking to become the highest-paid player at his position.

Although Adams is deserving of top money, the Packers have to be careful about handing out more record-setting contracts. Luckily, they were able to agree to terms with both David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark. That certainly helps them prioritize who is left, but Smith may not even hold the highest priority among Green Bay’s defensive players.

If any of the defensive players for the Packers were to receive an extension in the near future, corner Jaire Alexander would make the most sense.

Alexander is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, and even though the team could exercise his fifth-year option, it may be sagacious to get his extension over and done with. Alexander was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2020 and also earned second-team All-Pro honors. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the best corner in football last season with the top coverage grade and allowing a passer rating of just 54.3.

Alexander is slowly becoming a dominant player and is arguably the most important player on Green Bay’s defense.

Smith, on the other hand, is much older and coming off a down year. While his breakout 2019 season was impressive, it was followed by a noticeable decline in 2020. Smith received a defensive grade of 90.2, per PFF, thanks to a league-leading 93 quarterback pressures. Last year, Smith’s defensive grade dropped nearly 13 points to 76.7, mainly because his pressures fell to a tame total of 51.

Earlier this year, Smith said he would like to remain a member of the Packers for the rest of his career. Smith was the best defensive signing in recent memory after making a profound impact right away. He is now scheduled to make more than $28 million during the final year of his contract set to expire at the end of the 2022 season. Green Bay will undoubtedly try to put less strain on their future caps by having Smith extend or restructure, but they probably want to get the futures of more deserving players fortified before re-approaching Smith.

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