Detroit Lions, Free Agency: Reviewing in the NFC North
Green Bay Packers
2019 Record: 6-9-1 (3rd in NFC North)
Notable players added: S Adrian Amos (CHI), EDGE Za’Darius Smith (BAL), EDGE Preston Smith (WAS), OL Billy Turner (DEN), TE Marcedes Lewis (re-signed)
Notable Players lost: EDGE Nick Perry (released)
The Packers are on the clock. The same could be said for a lot of teams in the NFL, but when you have a generational quarterback like Aaron Rodgers approaching his late 30s, the pressure is a little different.
The Packers’ offense hasn’t been the main culprit for their absence from the playoffs over the last two years. Holes on the defensive line and in the secondary have rendered the Packers unable to make up for nagging injuries to their star quarterback that caused him to miss nine games in 2017 and parts of several games in 2018.
The heavy lifting in the secondary was done in 2018, as the Packers spent their first two draft picks on cornerbacks Jaire Alexander out of Louisville and Josh Jackson out of Iowa. Cornerbacks typically go through their share of bumps as rookies, and such was the case in 2018 for the pair of defensive backs. Despite some major upside, the two rookies failed to add much playmaking to the third level of the defense, finishing with just one interception between them.
Playmaking in the secondary was a problem in general for the Packers, as they finished with just seven picks in 2018, tied with the Lions for second fewest in the league. The Packers hope to rectify that with their signing of former Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos (pictured above). Amos comes to Green Bay after starting 56 games for the Bears in his first four seasons. He will be a welcome addition to a young secondary; Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) advanced grading system had him ranked as the eighth best overall safety in 2018.
In the front seven, the Packers are also going younger and more expensive as they shelled out large deals to edge defenders Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith from the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, respectively. Both players will have the chance to thrive, moving all around defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense in the hopes of improving the Packers steady pass rush – the two combined for 12.5 sacks last season.
The youth movement on defense is on in full force in Green Bay, with the three aforementioned additions all 26 or younger. This is in stark contrast to veterans like linebacker Clay Matthews and edge defender Nick Perry, both of whom are doubtful to return in 2019. In addition, cornerback Tramon Williams is 36 and in the last year of his deal – he might not be on the roster come training camp, as the young corners get more snaps. Talented young players develop quickly in the NFL; the Lions and the rest of he NFC North will see a slew of new ones when they face the Packers in 2019.