The Green Bay Packers are splitting up the Smith Bros.
The Packers agreed to terms with Preston on a four-year extension worth $52.5 million in new money, per a source informed of the situation.
The 29-year-old pass rusher was set to enter the final year of his contract. The new pact gives Preston more than $65 million over five years with a chance to make $71 million, per Rapoport. Preston gets $14 million in year one.
In 2021, Preston produced a bounce-back season with nine sacks, 38 tackles and two forced fumbles after a disappointing 2020 campaign.
Signing Preston to an extension continues the Packers' effort to get under the salary cap ahead of the new league year opening. Aaron Rodgers' new deal lowers the QB's significant cap number. Preston's extension will likewise allow Green Bay to push the big cap numbers into future seasons.
Meanwhile, Za'Darius' $26.7 million salary-cap hit was untenable. The fellow 29-year-old pass rusher played in one regular-season game before returning for the postseason. Za'Darius is fully healthy as he heads to free agency.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero added that Za'Darius had the option to stay on this year's cash owed amount, but both sides ultimately decided parting ways was best. Cutting Z means signing the edge rusher has no compensatory draft pick implications, which is notable for some teams (like his former club in Baltimore). In fact, Pelissero later reported the Ravens are one of multiple teams already in pursuit of the now free-agent pass rusher.
The Packers need to get under the salary cap by the new league year opening on Wednesday. Monday's extension of one Smith and release of another is part of the equation.
The Packers are also releasing offensive tackle Billy Turner, per Pelissero. The team later confirmed both releases.