The deal comes after the news of star OLB Za’Darius Smith receiving back surgery that could sideline him for a long while. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Smith will be getting a one-year deal worth $770,000. Dallas is paying the remaining $7.2 million of his current contract.
With the emergence of De’Vondre Campbell as well as the imminent return of Krys Barnes to the starting lineup, the Packers could end up with one of the more formidable linebacker units in the NFL.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith’s overall grade (69.5), ranks 11th among linebackers with a minimum of 100 snaps this season.
The addition of Smith also adds elements of quickness and physicality among the linebacking corps. When it came to tackles, Smith had plenty in Dallas. In 68 total games, he amassed 317 solo tackles, 20 TFLs, 15 QB hits, two interceptions, 20 pass deflections, and six forced fumbles.
At just 26 years old, Smith is still young and has the ability to make plays. If anything, Smith’s presence on the defense can actually open the door for other players to shine even brighter than they are (such as De’Vondre Campbell).
Simply put: The addition of Smith would definitely bring a much needed spark to a mid-level defense early on in the season. His coverage ability along with his ability to make tackles in space can be very beneficial for a team and defense like Green Bay’s.
Aaron Rodgers knows what impact veteran players can have on a team having played with a few in his career (Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, John Kuhn, among others). This signing not only adds depth to a position of need but also bolsters it for a late-season playoff push.
The Packers now have Smith cubed at linebacker which is pretty cool. I think the Watts may now have a challenge for top same last name trio in the NFL. All in all though, this signing was needed and could possibly spark this defense to play at even higher level than they are at the current moment. Time will tell, but for now, it seems to be the right move on both sides for Green Bay.