The Detroit Lions had their day in the spotlight on Monday, as they nabbed some of the highest-profile names that free agency has to offer this year. Trey Flowers, Justin Coleman, Danny Amendola and Jesse James is a pretty incredible one-day haul, even for you crazy optimists. But the news cycle is fast, and free agency hype is fickle. Early on Tuesday, another NFC North team made some resounding moves.
The Green Bay Packers hit on three free agent signings Tuesday before the clock even hit noon eastern.
First, the Packers landed one of the best edge talents in the free agency pool with former Raven Za’Darius Smith. Contract terms are still unknown, but it looks like the 27-year-old edge defender will be getting a similar deal to the Flowers estimates:
Za'Darius Smith's deal with the Packers will come in over $16M a year. No way the Ravens were going to devote $33M a year to keeping him and Mosley at this point.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2019
Smith is coming off his best NFL season to date, playing in all 16 games (eight starts), and tallying a career high 8.5 sacks and 45 tackles. He improves a Packers pass rush that relied too heavily on pressure from its linebacking corps.
But the Packers weren’t done. They went ahead and added another edge talent, agreeing to terms with Preston Smith.
I'm told free agent LB Preston Smith is going to Green Bay on a 4-year deal worth $52M. $16M fully guaranteed at signing. Smith choices came down to the #Colts and the #Packers, per source.— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 12, 2019
That’s two $10+ million a year deals for edge defenders, highlighting Green Bay’s commitment to improving its pass rush.
Of course, the Packers needed to create some room to make deals like that, and that meant parting ways with edge defender Nick Perry, just two years after signing him to a five-year, $60 million contract.
Then to top things off, the Packers added one more piece to their defense, adding one of the best safeties on the market, former Bears safety Adrian Amos:
The #Packers are signing former #Bears S Adrian Amos to a 4-year deal worth $37M, source said. He gets $21M in the first two years.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2019
Green Bay has made a concerted effort to improve its secondary over the past few years. In the past two years alone, the Packers have devoted four Day 1 and 2 picks to the defensive backfield (Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Kevin King, Josh Jones). Amos provides some nice experience to the secondary, but also still has plenty of youth (just 25 years old).
PFF Safety grades for the past 3-seasons combined:— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 12, 2019
Adrian Amos may not be the flashiest player in the secondary, but he's damn solid: pic.twitter.com/22aitydh0o
But the Packers weren’t done. They also added some much-needed help on the offensive side. Having lost T.J. Lang to free agency a couple years ago, Green Bay has struggled to fill the position long-term. So they went out and grabbed themselves an option:
The #Packers are add on offense, too. They’re signing versatile OL Billy Turner, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2019
Turner is no bonafide starter, but the Packers are paying him like one. Per Ian Rapoport, Turner is getting a four-year deal worth a max of $29.5 million. He’s a versatile piece that has NFL experience at both tackle and guard but has only started 25 games over five seasons. Last year, he was a valuable injury replacement in Denver, starting 11 games (seven at guard, four at tackle).
Though the Bears and Vikings have been relatively quiet thus far, the NFC North appears to be getting better thus far, which could lead to another competitive year for the Black and Blue Division.