Packers OLB Preston Smith has responded to the critics. After last season, many fans and experts predicted that Green Bay would cut ties with the aging veteran who had a disappointing 2020. In 2019, Preston finished with 12 sacks and was part of one of the best edge rushing duos in the NFL with Za’Darius Smith on the other side. However, in 2020, his performance went down significantly and many wanted him out of Green Bay. Smith took a team-first approach into his contract negotiations and took a pay cut that cut down his salary cap number from $16 million to $8.75 million.
The 29-year-old stayed in Green Bay to chase a Super Bowl. After losing two NFC Championships in a row, he knew what the Packers had at their fingertips and knew there was more work to be done. Smith also worked hard on his frame in the offseason, and leaned up to an ideal size coming into this season.
In 14 games this season, Smith has tallied 8.0 sacks, 7 TFLs, 15 QB hits, and 2 forced fumbles.
That is really good production for the price the Packers retained him at. The 2021 edge rushing duo of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary is holding up well considering the absence of Za’Darius Smith. This year it has been Preston Smith being stout on the edge in pass rush and run support, coupled with the high motor of Gary on the other side.
Preston Smith’s 2020 PFF grade was an abysmal 53.1. So far in 2021, he has posted a 79.5 PFF grade. If Preston can finish the season strong, he could end up with numbers close to his 2019 breakout year. I know Packers fans are enjoying being wrong about keeping him around, as he has been really solid this year. Let’s hope Preston can be a playmaker down the stretch and hopefully with a possible addition of Za’Darius Smith in the playoffs, the Smith brothers can win a Super Bowl together on the field.