5 best free-agent signings under Packers GM Brian Gutekunst

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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3. Za'Darius Smith

The Packers made three big signings in the opening week of 2019 free agency. One was the addition of former Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Za'Darius Smith.

Gutekunst hit the reset button at edge rusher. Having released Nick Perry and let Clay Matthews move on, the Packers aggressively addressed the position in free agency and the draft, bringing in Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary.

Za'Darius Smith was Green Bay's best pass rusher in his first two seasons with the team. In that time, Smith started all 32 games and earned back-to-back Pro Bowl honors, finishing with 26 sacks, 60 quarterback hits, and five forced fumbles. His game-changing ability helped the Packers reach consecutive NFC Championship Games.

Unfortunately, injury limited Smith to only one game in 2021, and the Packers released him the following offseason in a cap-saving move.

Smith has since had another double-digit sack season with the Minnesota Vikings and most recently played for the Cleveland Browns. While it's a shame his stay in Green Bay didn't last longer, he produced several memorable moments, often stepping up with big plays at crucial times.

Gutekunst spent big to fix the pass rush in 2019, and the Smith Bros. played a crucial role in the Packers' defensive improvements.