The old, outmoded Green Bay Packers approach to free agency is out the door. On the second day of the NFL's negotiating window, new general manager Brian Gutekunst got busy upgrading the defense.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday morning that the Packers are expected to sign former Baltimore Ravens edge rusher Za'Darius Smith and ex-Bears safety Adrian Amos, per sources informed of the deals. Amos' deal, Rapoport added, will be for four years worth $37 million, $21 million coming in the first two seasons. Smith's contract comes in the form of four years for $66 million with $34.5 million across the initial two seasons.
The former fourth-round pick out of Kentucky owns the athleticism and ability to turn speed into power. He might struggle in run defense, but Smith will get paid to disrupt the passer. Still just 26 years old, Smith injects some youth and athleticism to a Packers decrepit pass rush.
Preston Smith brings a solid run defense portfolio to Green Bay along with the ability to disrupt the passer. The 26-year-old was one of the more underrated edge rushers to hit the open market, generating 53 pressures and 27 defensive stops in 2018, per PFF.
Heading into free agency, Green Bay sorely needed to give defensive coordinator Mike Pettine pass rushers to fill out his scheme. The Smiths fit what Pettine looks for in his pass rusher: Edge performers who salivate at the mere thought of slamming a QB.
Turning to the safety spot, Packers fans know Amos well after the 25-year-old former fifth-round pick spent the past four seasons in Chicago.
Amos never got the attention that Bears teammate Eddie Jackson garnered but was one of the most sound and consistent safeties in the entire NFL the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus graded Amos as a top-10 coverage safety each of the past two seasons. Over the past three seasons combined, Amos earned the third-highest grade among safeties, per PFF.
Adding a reliable safety who generated nine passes defended and two interceptions in 2018 fills a glaring need in the Packers' back end. Pettine loves to send rushers after the quarterback but needs to trust his secondary to achieve that goal. With a player as dependable as Amos in the defensive backfield, Pettine should be freed to get more creative in 2019.