Green Bay Packers: Major Needs Filled in Free Agency
Green Bay Packer fans jaws dropped on Tuesday when Brian Gutekunst made a flurry of moves that former GM Ted Thompson would never have made. Gutekunst was busy addressing needs that every Packer fans have been pining for since last years draft.
The day kicked off with the signing of outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. bringing in youth and fire to the linebacking core. Smith, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015, had a huge season for Baltimore in 2018, recording 8.5 sacks, hitting the quarterback an astonishing 25 times, 10 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. In his short career, Smith has 18.5 sacks, he is an immediate upgrade over former fan favorite Clay Matthews. The terms of his deal are 4 years $65 million an average of $16.5 million per year.
I’ll give this signing an A: Smith brings youth and tenacity that the pass-rush needs.
Next up Gutekunst signed Adrian Amos, probably the most efficient safety in this year’s free agency group. This signing is a huge boom for the Packers as their safety corps the past few seasons has been one of the Achilles heels of the defense. Amos was a 4-year starter for the rival Chicago Bears, who was on the field for 97% of the defensive plays in the 2018 season. He is a flexible player who has excellent speed and instincts who will be a huge chess piece for Mike Pettine.
While he only has three interceptions in his career his versatility is really where his strength lies. His ability to diagnose route concepts and attack the ball in the air is something that the Packers have lacked in previous years. The terms of his deal are 4 Years $37 million that is front-loaded with $21 million being paid in the first 2 years of the deal.
I’ll give this signing an A+: I really liked Amos and his ability to play all over the field. Thus, his signing will give other players like Josh Jones the ability to play the hybrid linebacker/safety role more often.
Gutekunst wasn’t done yet, he went back and added another EDGE rusher in Preston Smith formerly of the Washington Redskins. Smith has a smell to get after the quarterback amassing a career-high 57 pressures in 2018. While he was not a sack machine in D.C. he did accumulate 24.5 combined sacks in the 4 years. Preston matched with Za’Darius immediately brings youth and vigor to the Packers front. This will definitely, finally take the pressure off the secondary. His deal is 4 years $52 million. It includes a $16 million signing bonus and $27.5 million front-loaded over the first 2 years.
I’ll give this signing a B: This might be my least favorite signing, while Smith has the ability to get after the quarterback, he just comes across as a lazy player who goes when he wants to and takes plays off the rest of the time.
There was one final play in Gutekunst’s hand, and he used it to bolster the oft-injured offensive line. He did this with the signing of offensive lineman Billy Turner formerly of the Denver Broncos. Turner had a great 2018 season only allowing 3 sacks and 27 pressures at both left guard and right tackle. He will most likely slot in at right guard for the packers and offer some insurance if Bryan Bulaga misses any time with an injury. His deal is worth 4 years $28 million with the Packer paying $11 million over the first year.
I’ll give this signing a B+: while the depth is needed and necessary, and while Turner had a good season in 2018, the track record is just not there for me.
One final housekeeping item Gutekunst made was cutting Outside Linebacker, Nick Perry. This will save the team approximately $3.3M in salary cap space in 2019.
Brian Gutekunst did something on Tuesday that hasn’t happened in an extremely long time. Filling the needs of Pass Rush and Safety gives the Packers the flexibility to do some different things in the draft. Especially with having 3 picks in the first 44. Getting an impact wide receiver to go opposite of Davante Adams seems to be the best place to spend that 12 picks right now. There is always the option to trade back and get more second and third round picks as well.
I’ll give this flurry of signings an Overall score of A-: it addressed 2 major needs and brought lots of youth into the defense, many guys whose best years are still ahead of them.
How do you feel about the Green Bay Packers after day one? Leave a comment below.
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