Packers release veteran Daniels, save cap space

Orlovsky: This season will be Rodgers' greatest challenge (1:48)

Dan Graziano and Dan Orlovsky share the trials Aaron Rodgers is facing in Packers coach Matt LaFleur's system. (1:48)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A big salary, combined with an injury and some high-priced additions on defense spelled the end for Mike Daniels with the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers released Daniels on Wednesday, one day before their first training camp practice.

While releasing the former Pro Bowl defensive tackle might have come as a surprise, he was due to make $8.5 million this season -- $7.6 million base salary, $500,000 roster bonus and $400,000 workout bonus -- in the final year of a four-year, $41 million contract extension signed on Dec. 13, 2015, when he looked like a future star.

While the workout bonus already would have been paid, the Packers will save $8,312,500 in salary-cap space this season. His cap charge for this year would have been $10,712,500.

"I've been around Mike for a short period of time. I know he's meant a lot to this community, he's meant a lot to this football team," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "Obviously, having to prepare for him in the past, I still think he's a really good player. I wish him well.

"You always want to keep good players. Unfortunately, that's part of this business. There's tough decisions that you have to make."

General manager Brian Gutekunst said the Packers had engaged in trade talks with teams for Daniels and thought they had a deal in place within the last few weeks.

"Those kind of came apart in the last couple weeks here, and that was part of [why Daniels was released]," Gutekunst said.

Moving on from Daniels gained consideration after the Packers splurged in free agency -- spending $56 million in signing bonuses in the first week -- and then added to their defense early in the draft.

"You're always looking at different things to try to improve your football team not only in the moment right now, but also as you look ahead into the future," Gutekunst said. "So those are things we think of, we go through, see what the best thing is for the club."

The move came one day after the Packers signed fellow defensive lineman Dean Lowry to a three-year, $20.325 million deal.

The Packers believe they have plenty of depth on the defensive line, which is led by rising star Kenny Clark, who is under contract through the 2020 season. They also have Montravius Adams, a third-round pick in 2017, signed through 2020. They drafted defensive tackle Kingsley Keke in the fifth round this year and return backups Tyler Lancaster, Fadol Brown and James Looney -- all three of whom finished last season the 53-man roster.

First-round pick Rashan Gary and veteran free agent Za'Darius Smith, while technically outside linebackers, can move inside on the defensive line in certain packages for coordinator Mike Pettine.

Daniels, a fourth-round pick in 2012, made the Pro Bowl as an alternate after the 2017 season. He missed two games that year because of a hip injury, and he finished 2018 on injured reserve following a foot injury that ended his season after 10 games.

Daniels did not take part in any of the offseason practices, but indicated recently that he expected to be cleared for the start of training camp.