As quietly as Monday came and went for the Packers, Tuesday clocked in at the very opposite end of the spectrum. By 9am Central Tuesday morning the Packers had reportedly agreed to terms with a trio of defensive players, and added an offensive lineman for good measure before noon on the eve of the official start of the new league year.
The first news to break was a four-year, $66 million deal for Za’Darius Smith, a 26-year old outside linebacker who spent his first four seasons in Baltimore, where he collected 18.5 sacks. Smith purportedly had been a trade target for Green Bay at some point over the past four years, so it’s fair to assume Brian Gutekunst and his team had their eyes on him for quite a while. At 26, Smith is entering the prime years of his career and is coming off an extremely productive 2018, with 8.5 sacks and 60 quarterback pressures. On third downs, his 17 combined sacks and pressures led the league.
Green Bay wasn’t content to stop at one pass rusher, reportedly adding another 26-year old outside linebacker, Preston Smith, on a four-year, $52 million deal. Smith played in all 64 regular season games during the first four years of his career, and started all 16 for the past three seasons, racking up 24.5 sacks. He had 53 pressures last season, and led all players with a 15.9 pressure rate.
Next, Green Bay turned their attention to safety. While most of the pre-free agency speculation swirled around names like Earl Thomas and Landon Collins, Adrian Amos seemed to be waiting in the shadows. Amos, the 25-year old Penn State product, spent his first four seasons with the Bears before reportedly agreeing to a four-year, $37 million contract with the Packers on Tuesday. According to Pro Football Focus, Amos graded as the third-best safety in the league over the past three seasons combined.
When the defensive spending spree was done, Gutekunst decided to bolster the offensive line in the form of Billy Turner, a former third-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins who spent the last two seasons with Denver, starting 11 games as a backup in 2018. Turner has played a bit of everything along the offensive line during his NFL career, but most likely slots in at right guard immediately in Green Bay. His four-year, $28 million deal makes him the second-highest paid offensive lineman on the Packers’ roster, behind only David Bakhtiari.
All told, the Packers spent big on the second day of the legal tampering period, but not as big as you might think. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the four new additions will combine for about $24 million in cap space for 2019:
In a related move, the Packers officially released veteran outside linebacker Nick Perry on Tuesday. Perry’s seven seasons with the team were riddled with injuries, as the former first-rounder played in just 81 of a possible 112 regular season games. His best season came in 2016, when he collected 11 sacks in 14 games. His injury history, combined with his inconsistent performance, seemingly made him expendable to the Packers after the additions of Za’Darius and Preston Smith. Green Bay will carry a dead cap hit of $11 million for Perry in 2019, while saving about $3.5 million.