Unless something truly franchise-altering happens in the future, the day that Reggie White signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1993 will always be the biggest day in the team’s free agency history.
Tuesday, March 12th 2019, however, now sits squarely in second place.
Yes, the team has made exceptional free agent signings before — Charles Woodson, for example — but that was viewed as a massive risk at the time and it did not come with the expectation of being a truly franchise-altering moment at the time, even though it arguably was.
Instead, general manager Brian Gutekunst was a mad scientist on Tuesday, completely revamping the Packers’ defense and suddenly offering himself great flexibility in the 2019 NFL Draft. No longer does he need to zero in on a pass-rusher with the 12th pick; no longer does he need to find instant starters at outside linebacker, safety, and right guard. He answered all those questions in the span of about two hours on Tuesday morning.
Gutekunst now has starters at all of those spots after landing pass-rushers Za’Darius and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The signings that the Packers agreed to suddenly open up all options for a team that has some excellent draft capital to work with in April.
Furthermore, the financials of the deals allow the team to make another move or two, as the contracts have relatively low salary cap hits in 2019 and offer the team easy outs down the road. Bringing back cornerback Bashaud Breeland and tendering restricted free agent Geronimo Allison would put a perfect bow on the free agency season for this team, leaving it with no gaping holes in the starting lineup on offense or defense. Gutekunst could then draft with an eye on the future, allowing rookie draft picks to contribute as depth players rather than relying on them to be starters in their first seasons.
Let’s see the reactions to Tuesday’s moves from around the Packers media sphere.
Packers take smart, calculated risks during free agency spending spree | Packers Wire
Every one of the Packers' expected signees check off a few specific boxes: they're young, they're on the rise, and they fit the Packers' schemes perfectly.
Green Bay Packers' 2019 free-agent signings: Defense gets makeover - ESPN
The Packers' two new outside linebacker combined for over 110 pressures a year ago. That's an astounding number. Then there's Amos, who didn't allow a touchdown last year despite being the nearest defender on 41 passes -- the best mark among safeties in the league.
Packers to sign edge rushers Preston, Za'Darius Smith, safety Amos | Packers News
Remember -- days like Tuesday are why fans need to have just a little bit of patience. Some of the biggest recent signings in franchise history actually came well after the onset of free agency, as White, Woodson, and Julius Peppers all signed several days or weeks into the process.
Dee Ford trade: Chiefs, 49ers agree to deal for 2020 second-round pick | SI.com
With the Packers no longer needing a veteran edge rusher thanks to their signings, the 49ers made their move for Ford, who will get a long-term contract extension. That deal will blow away what the Packers gave to the Smiths, however, and it sure makes Green Bay look smart by paying less and avoiding giving up a draft pick.
Grading the Odell Beckham Jr. trade from Giants to Browns - Who won? | ESPN
Amid all the Packers' craziness early in the day, this made the NFL's collective head explode on Tuesday night. The Browns suddenly look like a Super Bowl contender in the AFC, with a huge amount of talent on offense and some big-time players coming for the defense, including Earl Thomas and Sheldon Richardson.
Del Taco French fry-scented soap: Limited item expected to sell out | USA Today
If you need me, I'll be over here figuring out where the nearest Del Taco is.