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Green Bay was 'best fit' for Preston Smith

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Green Bay was 'best fit' for Preston Smith

-- The best technique for approaching free agency is pursuing ideal roster upgrades under the premise of finding the best possible fit. At least as opposed to dishing out heaps of cash in the direction of a player whose household name often nets him that kind of acknowledgment.

But the Green Bay Packers went with the former approach, finding four day-one starters in linebackers Za'Darius and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. While those four signings somewhat restricts what the Packers will want to do financially next year, the basis of their approach was to solidify weakened parts of their roster for each of the next several seasons.

The latter of those Smiths, Preston, believes the Packers just so happened to be the best fit for him simply based off of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's track record with previous players in similar roles.

Smith signed a four-year deal worth $52 million during the free agency period after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Washington Redskins.

"Green Bay, I just felt like, was the best fit for me in the process," Smith said on the SiriusXM Blitz last week. "They've got a lot of young guys that can do a lot of great things. They're a great time, a prestigious organization ... just a lot of great things about the city of Green Bay that brought me to them."

While Smith didn't even eclipse his career-high in sacks for a single season last year -- or even his second-highest -- the Packers evidently saw enough in Smith to bring him in as a complement to Pettine's new arsenal of pass rushers.

At just 26 years old, the opportunity of Smith being a developmental prospect with sky-high potential still exists. It could just take the right environment -- and the right coordinator -- to maximize it.

"I chose the best fit for me and my playing style and I chose the best option for me to go out there and play my best ball," Smith said. "I've seen their system before. I've seen their playing style, the things they did with the previous guys. I thought that their guys played in a nice defense."

The Packers released former first-round pick Nick Perry after seven seasons with the team and chose to let the franchise's all-time sack leader in Clay Matthews test the free agency market, ultimately ending up back in his hometown of Los Angeles with the Rams.

As a result, the Packers completely reshaped their outside linebacker position, adding both Smiths and using their No. 12 overall pick on Michigan's Rashan Gary in last month's draft. The jury is still out on what they'll get from Kyler Fackrell in his fourth season, coming off of 10.5 sacks a year ago. With Pettine at the helm for a second season, Fackrell's arrow could be ascending.

"[The defense] helped their guys play well, and it seemed like there was much going on. I'm really excited to get to the season and hit the field with these guys and go out there and progress towards having a great season and a productive season."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CAG123's picture

I bust Fackrell’s chops a lot about how he obtained those sacks but I’m just as equally excited to see what he does next year with in prime healthy players on the outside. I think he’ll be great coming in on certain packages when Pettine wants to turn up the heat. I’m actually excited for the preseason for once just to get a glimpse of what this def will look like.

dobber's picture

I think he's (Fackrell) still going to play a lot, especially on passing downs where you'll see one of Z. Smith/Gary playing end (or maybe one playing inside, too) and Fackrell rotating in on the outside (or maybe ILB). I think Fackrell's ability to play in space is probably his best asset. Letting Smith and Gary play with their hands on the ground helps to get more and better rushers on the field and in different looks. If this defense plays well and generates TOs, and if the offense takes care of the ball and can put points on the board, having that depth at edge will be very important as teams are forced to throw against the Packers.

Point Packer's picture

Excited to see what "P Smith" brings to the table. Even more excited to never see Nick Perry in a Green Bay uniform again.

Big Moe's picture

" Even more excited to never see Nick Perry in a Green Bay uniform again."
Like's to infinity!

dblbogey's picture

We rarely saw him in uniform for 7 years.

Johnblood27's picture

BAH-Zinga!!!

Grandfathered's picture

I'm the one disagreer with the "excited to never see him in a Green Bay uniform" comment. When Perry was healthy - truly healthy - he had talent and drive. I'm not excited to never see him - just disappointed he was unavailable.

TheVOR's picture

I think the moves have to yield a better overall defense. Man, CMIII with 3 1/2 sacks and Perry constantly on IR just wasn't cutting it. Hope the D stays healthy, can't wait to see it. I'm not even freaked out if Kevin King never played another down at this point, I think GB drafted two very high end CB's last season, they both played really well. Takes some of the sting out of Thompson passing on WATT and taking another glass football player in King. Man, Thompson just had to be ignoring injury history's, he drafted so many guys that couldn't stay available.

jannes bjornson's picture

We still don't know if Ted made the call on King and Jones in the trade down.

Johnblood27's picture

Dont be stoopid.

No pick gets made without the GM being ON BOARD, no matter how much chirping he MIGHT have heard.

jannes bjornson's picture

Ted was incapacitated at the time or don't you follow the news in Packerland. Sober up.

realitybytez's picture

speaking of ignoring injury history . . . rashan gary

not sure anything has really changed.

stockholder's picture

That's the point with Gary. Nobody has given Gute an A or solid B on his selection. The problem with the packers drafting: Has been ignoring the fan's popular player. It's not a case of favorites anymore. They just seem to ignore the popular player. The No Brain. Instead reaching for a player thats climbing. Who in Green Bay can say Gary has the same upside as Clark? I see getting black mailed by Daniels now. DIDN'T THE FANS THINK RISNER WAS A BETTER ANSWER then Jenkins. And trade up for him? WASN'T Thornhill or other safeties rated higher by Ross? Then Savage. Every player can work out. So can Summers. But the packers have lost site of what to do in the drafts. They continue to keep the door turning rather then push your way In.

Archie's picture

Miguel Andujar (NYY 3B) has a small tear in his labrum from diving back to 3B. They admitted the tear does not heal on its own but thought, with rest and rehab, that he could play the rest of the season. Brought him back and he couldn't hit with the torn labrum so surgery is scheduled this week.

Go to think Gary is going to be handicapped by his small labrum tear and that he will end up on IR with surgery before season is out. Maybe sooner than anyone would like. It may be year 3 before we know what we have in Gary, despite his being the 12th pick in the draft.

Didn't Joe Johnson, FA signed by GB for a ton of $$ (from NOR back in the day), fail because of a severely torn labrum as in never really played again? I think so. So let's hope Gary's tear is minimal and that it doesn't get worse from playing with it. I see why Gutey took him given his talent and how the draft fell but he took a big risk.

In retrospect, I wish Gutey had traded down to 21, taken Savage, and kept all his picks. And if Gary was there at 30 (or even trade back up a bit to get him), grab him then. At woprst, we would have gotten Savage plus 4 more premium picks (pick 30, r2 pick and two r4 picks). That's 5 for 1.

Handsback's picture

This article isn't a BS statement to make the fans feel better, it's been verified that Preston Smith is exactly the edge guy Pettine wants. Most scouts feel he will make the greater impact than Z man.
Personally I don't think so, but regardless who's better...they will be a force to control. Can't wait for a peek at them playing together.

Lare's picture

Just hoping that all these guys stay healthy. The defense looks great on paper right now.

TheBigCheeze's picture

just a lot of great things about the city of Green Bay that brought me to them.".........yeah......52 million of them......

GBPDAN1's picture

I was going to make the same comment Cheeze. I'm glad we got both Smith's as Perry and Clay were contributing next to nothing. But, I'm sure both Smith's decisions weren't to hard to make after seeing what the Packers were offering..... did any other team offer what we offered? We dumped a lot of money on these guys. Hope they are still hungry , keep progressing and play well.

Coach JV's picture

I think he's gonna be a great player for us. Like the article says, right environment and right coordinator to help him achieve his potential.

draftpete's picture

I'm looking forward to Pettine's second season with the defense but there will be many new starters who will be in their first with it. So that will kind of slow down that second year jump for the group as a unit. That influx of new talent both experienced and talented rookies should help though. Hoping King can kick that injury bug as he is a good player when healthy. And after seeing how Jackson played in the system last year they can better fit his talents this year and we will see that second year jump be positive.

porupack's picture

Yep That is the sensible way to do free agency. Not get big-star, not get for cheap. Get young, but some track record. Glad Smith also recognizes he has chance to hone his legacy in that, of the prestigious organization. He knows what he's talkin about. Welcome to Greenbay.

Archie's picture

I agree - I liked the way Gutey approached free agency. Be willing to pay up for young guys still on the improve, not banged up, and perfect fits to the Pack's scheme. Well done.

Packer Dave's picture

I like having some bigger guys to roll through on the outside. It's going to hard for teams to hold off the pressure for 4 quarters. It got tough to watch Clay play until his wheels feel off every game.

SterlingSharpe's picture

Most of you guys never wanted Perry in the first place.
Most of you guys never wanted Damarious Randall in the first place either.
Most of us never wanted Trevor Davis in the first place.
Most of us never wanted Brett Hundley in the first place.
Most of us never wanted Datone Jones in the first place.
Many of us never wanted Kenny Clark in the first place. Whoops.

Lotta power from whoever our Pac-12 scout has been.

Tundraboy's picture

Sounds like Pettine has a plan, but for whatever reasons if he can get the same things he got out of Fackrelll from the new guys,it truly will be a new era for the D. Cannot wait for the games to begin.

PatrickGB's picture

Yes we spent a pretty fair price for our new FAs. The cap goes up and the price looks about right. I will miss Clay. He was a funny guy. But I think I will be able to laugh a lot more when we start winning games because of the defense, not just because of AR and Clay doing commercials.

4thand1's picture

Pettine must have some major influence. Got Gute and co. to get rid of dead weight and land 3 defensive FA's. It's his show and expect this defense to be top 10 or better.

stockholder's picture

I love the smiths. Money well spent.

Packer Fan's picture

Nice to read a positive article. I like what was done with free agency. Good position choices in the draft. We won't know how much help the picks will be until the season starts. But I think the ship is heading in the right direction.

AgrippaLII's picture

I hope "best fit" means he's anticipating playoff bonus money for the next four years !

PanchoQ's picture

Clay was a scrawny kid when he went to USC and blossomed into a big muscular OLB. How does that happen in three years? He was a big impact player for about 6 years at Green Bay before the league got serious about checking for PEDs in 2014. From then on he was average at best. Lots of movement on the field, little impact. I find his performance to be more than a coincidence.

greengold's picture

Both Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith are players who are ascending in their overall play, and they rank 14th and 19th respectively amongst 109 EDGE rushers in the NFL. Their grades were both career highs for each player.

Matthews and Perry are both heading in the opposite direction, descending drastically in their level of play, ranking 54th and 85th respectively according to PFF.

Both of the Smiths are trending upwards in the exact opposite direction as their predecessors in GB.

AWESOME!!!! Just what this team needed, and those contracts will be pretty affordable in time. All 4 FA additions have 2-year outs built into their contracts. Smart work by Gutey and Russ Ball. The risk level is relatively low with a very high possible rate of return.

Preston Smith, former R2 pick has increased his pressure totals in each of the last three seasons (36, 39, 54). Super durable player who has notched more than 750 snaps in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons.

Za'Darius Smith has also shown a very steady increase in his production for a solid 4 years, with over 60 pressures in 2018, resulting in 27 hits, 10 sacks... and he's a versatile chess piece, with most of his pressures coming off the Guard. This dude is as big as Gary.

Adrian Amos could wind up being a total steal. More than 47% of his career targets resulted in a defensive stop or a pass defend incompletion. Those are Charles Woodson-type numbers. Add to that he is about as sure a tackler as there is in the NFL with just 15 misses in over 160 attempts, and he's versatile enough to play in the box, nickel or dime. He's the perfect SS complement to newly drafted FS Darnell Savage. His best play is at the line. Not a ball hawk, but has the instincts to make great plays on the ball with good timing. Again, durable player we can rely on with over 3600 snaps in 4 years. He's not going to pile up in the stat sheet, but he will make the other players around him better.

All 3 of these FA signings should help our defense improve by leaps and bounds.

dobber's picture

I think we need to pump the brakes on Adrian Amos a little bit. He's better than anyone the Packers had at S last year, but I'm not convinced he wasn't at least in part the beneficiary of a very good front 7 in Chicago. He's assignment-sure, and a good tackler, but I don't think he's a true difference maker and he's getting a lot of cash for that. I'll be happy to have someone post that back to me and have me eat crow at the end of the year.

gmailloginok's picture

i dont like that fits, he look weirb in it,
http://hotmaillogin-english.com/

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