It was a quiet first day of free agency for the Packers on Monday, March 11th. Cheeseheads were waiting to see what moves general manager, Brian Gutekunst, was plotting to make. As day two came around, Gutekunst had immersed himself into the madness. The fans awoke to see that the Packers were active. This was something they weren’t quite used to seeing during free agency in prior years. The news broke Tuesday morning that Za’Darius Smith and Adrian Amos were being pursued by the Packers, followed by Preston Smith and Billy Turner later on in the day. All four players were signed on March 14th. Now that the dust has settled, let’s meet the newest additions:
Za’Darius Smith is a 6’4″, 275 lbs linebacker from Baltimore. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft out of Kentucky, 122nd overall. The Packers were looking to add a player who could cause problems for quarterbacks. After having an 8.5 sack season, Smith could play a major role in helping to fill that necessity.
Along with his 8.5 sacks, Smith had 25 quarterback hits last season, which is a little over triple the numbers he put up in his rookie season. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story about a player. Smith has a relentless mentality when it comes to getting through to the ball. A young player who is explosive off the edge is a huge puzzle piece in making the Packers a more complete team on both sides of the ball.
Crossing enemy lines to join the Packers is free safety, Adrian Amos. The former Chicago Bear is coming off of his fourth season in the NFL. He played in all sixteen regular season games of the 2018 season, as well as the Bears playoff appearance versus the Eagles. Injuries are always a concern for the Packers defensive backfield, so adding someone to the group who hasn’t been injury prone throughout his first few seasons is a step in the right direction. This doesn’t mean that Amos plays a timid game. With a nickname like “SMASH” it’s no wonder he caught the eye of Gutekunst.
Although he only has three interceptions in four seasons, along with a 90 yard pick-6 in 2017, Amos brings a physical presence down field. Amos is going to make things difficult for receivers down field, as he has a hard-hitting style of play. His lack of interceptions could be due to the fact that he focuses more on the body, and less on the ball when making a play. This could be a positive, as it could prevent him from being burned trying to make a big play. Notable awards for Amos include the 2015 All-Rookie team and the 2017 All-Pro first team.