GREEN BAY (WBAY) - The Packers newest players are signed, sealed, and delivered. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner all put pen to paper at Lambeau Field Thursday, and then perhaps headed straight to the bank. If all 4 of them play all 4 years of their new contracts, the Packers will be on the hook for a reported $182 millon.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst admits this is something that was necessary because of the shape the roster was in following a 6-9-1 record in 2018. “Every year your team is kind of in a different situation, and I think you have to be honest with yourself. And this year our team was in the situation where I thought this was the right thing to do for our team moving forward,” said Gutekunst. “It won't always be; but it will be year to year and what we need to do to win. Obviously, you can't kick the can down the road forever; but at the same time I don't think we did that here. If you really look at it we didn't really jeopardize anything in the future.”
The non-related Smiths are now related in this way--they are being paid to overhaul an outside linebacker position that had lost production with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. The Smiths have known each other since coming out of college at the same time, and will now play on the same team.
“We really go cool when we actually went to the Combine because he's a Smith and I'm a Smith so we were right behind each other so we got a chance to communicate,” recalled Za’Darius Smith, who led the Ravens with 8.5 sacks in 2018. “But one thing he did tell me, he was like 'Z man, we are going to do great things in this league'; I kid you not. And now we are playing together.”
Preston Smith, who recorded 24.5 sacks during his 4 seasons in Washington while never missing a game, believes the two will work very well together. “We are both versatile players. I've seen him play and he can rush inside and outside, I can do the same. We both play fast and physical and violent, and I like his play style. I feel like we are going to some great things here in Green Bay.”
Safety Adrian Amos comes from the rival Bears, who ironically signed former Packer safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix on Thursday. Amos has just 3 career interceptions, but the Packers believe there is more to come from him, and they are confident he will be in the right position, which is his trademark. “Just being physical and being accountable. I feel that's the biggest thing,” Amos said Thursday. “Just being accountable. Everybody can count on me to do my job. Be where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there.”
Billy Turner said Thursday he is comfortable playing guard or tackle, and he has started at both positions while playing for the Broncos and Dolphins. Gutekunst believes his best position is guard in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. Regardless, the Minnesota native will have two games circled on his calendar after his hometown Vikings not only passed on him in the 2014 draft, but also in free agency.
“I mean I thrive on fuel. That is their loss. They are going to have to deal with me twice a year,” said Turner Thursday after signing his Packers contract. “They will figure it out sooner or later and they are probably too late at that point. I have signed my deal here and this is where I wanted to be. So if you ask me, they are just going to have to deal with the aftermath.”