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Cheese Curds, 3/22: Packers had to outbid other teams to land their free agent haul

Green Bay went head-to-head with a couple other franchises — one of whom has a highly-respected young GM — to get their preferred pass-rushers in free agency.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, one constant for the Green Bay Packers was an unwillingness to budge on the value of a free agent. The Packers would seemingly set a number and stick to it; if the player’s price went over that threshold, the negotiations were over.

This year, however, the Packers apparently were a little bit more flexible about that rule than in years past. The details of how Adrian Amos and Billy Turner landed in Green Bay are not entirely clear just yet, but we now know that the Packers did get into a bidding war for both of their new pass-rushers, Preston and Za’Darius Smith.

There are two possibilities here: either the deals still came in under the team’s maximum price for these players or else the team bent those rules a bit, knowing that they needed some urgent help on the roster. Regardless of which pathway these signings took, however, the fact that the Packers continued to negotiate after setting their initial number is in and of itself unusual.

At first glance, this appears to be largely due to general manager Brian Gutekunst’s influence. Russ Ball still holds the purse strings to an extent, though perhaps even he could see the wisdom of making these significant additions. But it’s clear that Gutekunst values free agency more highly than Ted Thompson did, and perhaps he was willing to push Ball a bit to be more willing to open up to get their guys.

It’s also worth wondering what had happened if the Packers had missed out on one or the other of these pass-rushers. Based on the deal that veteran Justin Houston just signed in recent days, it’s reasonable to think the Packers could have been in the market to sign him. Still, given the health and youth of their two new players, Gutekunst is surely perfectly happy with how it all worked out.

Packers outbid Jets for Za’Darius Smith, Colts for Preston Smith | Packers Wire
The fact that the Colts were highly interested in Preston Smith seems like a great thing; GM Chris Ballard has a great reputation for his eye for talent, so being able to land a player that he coveted speaks well of that decision. The Jets' front office is...let's say less highly-regarded, so the price tag for Za'Darius is at least a bit more concerning.

Justin Houston contract: Colts sign LB to two-year, $24 million deal |
The Colts instead spent their $12 million per year on Houston after missing out on Preston. That's about $3 million less than Houston would have received from the Chiefs this fall, and $1 million less than Preston Smith's deal. However, the shorter term reflects Houston's age and injury history, both knocks on him compared to the younger Smiths.

Green Bay Packers' Billy Turner ready to 'have my own impact' |
Turner's dad, Maurice, played three games for the Packers as a running back in 1985. Now his son is in Green Bay as well, and the Turners will be the third father-son tandem to suit up in green and gold.

Ex-Detroit Lions guard T.J. Lang ready to retire from NFL | Detroit Free Press
It's apparently the end of the line for Lang, who was just released by the Lions a few weeks ago. He has certainly had an injury history, particularly in recent years, showing that the Packers made the right decision in not paying him big money when he hit free agency a few years ago. Good luck in retirement, TJ!

Raiders sign Vontaze Burfict, and now everybody wants them on Hard Knocks even more | SF Gate
Remember a few years ago when Burfict knocked out Brown with a dirty hit over the middle of the field, concussing the receiver and setting up the Steelers’ game-winning field goal? Now he’ll have a chance to lay dirty hits on Brown in practice!