The Green Bay Packers’ free agent splash was more of a tidal wave last week, as general manager Brian Gutekunst landed four big-name players within the span of two hours on Tuesday. All four will play significant roles in 2019 and moving forward, but until Monday none of these players officially had a jersey number to call their own.
Monday has arrived, however, and so have the numbers for these four players. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith will wear 55, partly as a tribute to his mentor in Baltimore, Terrell Suggs. Fellow linebacker Preston Smith gets number 91, which belonged to rookie pass-rusher Kendall Donnerson a year ago. (According to the roster on Packers.com, Donnerson will wear Nick Perry’s old number 53 this season.) Smith wore 91 in college at Mississippi State before receiving number 94 in Washington. Meanwhile, safety Adrian Amos will wear number 31, while offensive lineman Billy Turner gets number 77.
Here are the official announcements from the Packers on Twitter, which come with some nifty Photoshop work:
Za’Darius Smith’s number 55 was most recently worn by offensive lineman Dillon Day during training camp in 2018. Ahmad Brooks wore it in 2017, succeeding Lerentee McCray (2016), Andy Mulumba (2013-15), and Desmond Bishop (2007-12).
91 has also belonged to a few pass-rushers in recent memory. Although defensive lineman Quinton Dial wore it in 2017, Jayrone Elliott had it for three years from 2014 to 2016. However, it also belonged to busts like Justin Harrell and Joe Johnson, so hopefully Preston Smith ends up playing more like Brian Noble (1983-93).
The number 31 given to Amos has special meaning for older Packers fans, as it belonged to Hall of Fame running back Jim Taylor during the Lombardi era. More recently, Al Harris wore it from 2003 to 2009, and Davon House had it in two stints with the Packers between 2011 and 2018.
Finally, Billy Turner’s 77 has a varied past in Green Bay. In the Lombardi days, it belonged to starting defensive tackle Ron Kostelnik, However, Tony Mandarich also wore 77 from 1989 to 1991. It got some more positive associations again in the mid-2000s, however, when Cullen Jenkins wore it between 2004 and 2010. Turner did wear number 77 previously in the NFL, suiting up in that number when playing for the Miami Dolphins from 2014 to 2016.