5 high-profile cap casualties the NY Jets can target this offseason

NY Jets, Amari Cooper
NY Jets, Amari Cooper / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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NY Jets, Preston Smith / Appleton Post-Crescent -USA TODAY

5. NY Jets target: Za'Darius Smith, OLB, Green Bay Packers

We start with two players who share plenty of similarities — first up is Za'Darius Smith. Smith was forced to miss all but two games in 2021 while dealing with a back injury.

But when on the field, he's proven to be one of the most disruptive pass rushers in football. In his two prior years in Green Bay, Smith totaled 26.0 sacks en route to consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and second-team All-Pro honors in 2020.

However, the Packers are desperate for cap space, and with Smith's cap hit ballooning to over $27 million in 2022, they might have no choice but to move on.

Whether in a trade or via a release, don't expect Za'Darius Smith to be playing for the Packers next year. The Jets could take advantage of the opportunity to add a star pass rusher who had played all 16 games in each of the three seasons prior to 2021.

4. NY Jets target: Preston Smith, OLB, Green Bay Packers

Za'Darius Smith might not be the only former high-profile pass-rusher signing named 'Smith' that the Packers are forced to move on from. Preston Smith finds himself in a similar situation. Only in his case, he played this past season.

Smith had somewhat of a down year in 2020 finishing with just four sacks after a 12-sack performance in 2019. But with Za'Darius Smith sidelined, Preston Smith stepped up and finished with nine sacks and a team-leading nine tackles for loss.

At 29-years-old, Smith is still going strong and while he doesn't offer quite the same pass-rush upside that his teammate does, he's still a really good player. However, the Packers need cap space.

Smith's $19.72 million cap hit is hefty and the Packers could move on and save over $12 million. If Green Bay chooses to release either (or both) of their star pass rushers, the Jets should be all over it.