1. Signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to start free agency
Once again, Brian Gutekunst recognized that the Packers needed to make significant changes to the roster in order to improve. Mike Pettine did a great job of scheming pressure last season, but now this defense has a ton of talent at edge rusher. Gutekunst is focused on the current season and isn’t afraid to take a couple of risks to try to win a Lombardi Trophy.
As free agency got underway, the Packers signed two of the best edge rushers on the market — Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Like Amos, both players are still young and in their prime at 26 years old.
In order to sign both players, the Packers had to be willing to outbid other interested teams. And according to Spotrac, the two contracts rank as the third and fourth most expensive at edge rusher in free agency this offseason. But to improve the pass rush, Green Bay didn’t have much choice. The alternative was to sign cheaper free agents or to simply rely on the draft, which would’ve been risky.
But by bringing in Za’Darius and Preston Smith, the Packers defense now has two talented starters on defense, and two players who can provide consistent pressure. Along with first-round pick Rashan Gary and Kyler Fackrell, the potential of this pass rush is sky-high.
This defense has the potential to be among the league’s best in 2019, and if that is the case, a key reason will be the play of Za’Darius and Preston Smith.