Ranking the 20 Best Free-Agent Signings in Packers History

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7. Preston Smith, Outside Linebacker, 2019

Preston Smith’s arrival in Green Bay in 2019, alongside Za'Darius Smith, marked a significant upgrade for the Packers’ pass rush. Signed to a four-year, $52 million contract, Smith quickly became a key contributor to a revitalized defense. His ability to generate pressure and make big plays was instrumental in the Packers’ success over the next several seasons.

In his first season with the Packers, Smith recorded a career-high 12 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, and 11 tackles for loss. His performance helped transform a previously inconsistent pass rush into one of the league’s most formidable units. Smith’s impact was felt immediately, as the Packers’ defense improved significantly and the team reached the NFC Championship Game.

Smith’s ability to play both outside linebacker and defensive end provided the Packers with valuable versatility. His length, strength, and athleticism made him a difficult matchup for offensive linemen, and his relentless motor ensured that he was always around the ball. Smith’s ability to generate pressure and disrupt opposing offenses was a key factor in the Packers’ defensive success.

Beyond his on-field performance, Smith brought a professional demeanor and work ethic that set an example for his teammates. His leadership and consistency were crucial to the development of younger players, and his presence in the locker room was a steadying influence.

Smith continued to be a reliable performer in subsequent seasons. In 2020, he recorded four sacks and continued to be a disruptive force on the edge. His ability to stay healthy and perform at a high level provided the Packers with much-needed stability on defense.