After staying mostly quiet on Monday as the free agency negotiation window opened, the Green Bay Packers made a huge splash early on Tuesday morning. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Green Bay is expected to sign outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens.
One early report from Jason La Canfora suggests that the contract could be worth over $16 million per year. Rapoport later announced details of the deal as being for four years and $66 million, an average of $16.5 million per year.
Smith, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 out of Kentucky, had a big season for Baltimore in 2018. He recorded 8.5 sacks but landed an astonishing 25 quarterback hits along with a forced fumble and 10 tackles for loss. For his career, Smith has 18.5 sacks.
This move is one that makes a great deal of sense. On Sunday night, Peter King reported that the Packers had once tried to trade for Smith in the past. In addition, Milt Hendrickson — a key Ravens scout for the past decade — jumped over to the Packers’ front office to work for general manager Brian Gutekunst. Hendrickson’s familiarity with Smith likely played a role in his expected signing.
Smith is a bigger player for the 3-4 outside linebacker position, listed at 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds. That could make him a candidate to rush from an interior position on passing downs in addition to manning an outside linebacker spot in the base defense.
We’ll have more on this news as it comes available.