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NFL: Top 5 Green Bay Packers free agent signings since 2000

NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers
NFC Championship - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Green Bay Packers
Hanen Musa
ANALYST
Modified 03 Apr 2021
Feature

The Green Bay Packers have been quiet during the NFL's free agency period. The team has been focusing largely on retaining players who are out of contract this year rather than adding a top free agent.

The Packers made it to the NFC Championship game last season, so it's little surprise that they want to keep their roster intact. Over the years, the Packers have seldom landed big free agents, but they have managed a coup or two in the past in free agency.

Below, we take a look at the Packers' five best free-agent signings since the turn of the century.

NFL: Top 5 Green Bay Packers free agent signings since 2000

#5 - Ryan Pickett

The Packers signed nose tackle Ryan Pickett as a free agent before the 2006 season. He had spent the previous five seasons with the St. Louis Rams (now known as the Los Angeles Rams).

Pickett spent eight seasons with the Packers as a key starter in their defense from 2006 to 2013. Pickett's strength was obstructing up the middle of the line and stuffing the run. His best season was in 2006 when he produced 64 total tackles.

Pickett was part of the 2010 Super Bowl-winning team and played in 11 playoff games for the Packers.

#4 - Preston Smith

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Preston Smith joined the Packers in 2019 after spending the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Washington Football Team.

Smith made an immediate impact on Green Bay's defense. He gave the Packers some legitimate pass rush from the edge along with his brother, edge rusher Za'Darius Smith.

Preston finished the season with 56 total tackles and 12 sacks. In the 2020 season, he played in all 16 games with 13 starts, recording 42 tackles.

Preston was also capable of dropping back into coverage, which gave defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some versatility to work with. Smith is on the Packers' books through the end of the 2022 NFL season and will likely be a key part of the team's defense over the next two campaigns.

#3 - Za'Darius Smith

Za'Darius Smith became the Packers' top pass rusher after signing as a free agent before the 2019 season.

The former Kentucky star finished his first season with a career-high and team-leading 13.5 sacks. He also recorded four forced fumbles in the 2020 NFL season, which was tied for third-most. With his brother by his side, the duo created a new, fun atmosphere in the locker room while simultaneously improving the team's defense.

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Before joining the Packers, Za'Darius Smith spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He never managed more than 8.5 sacks in a season during his time in Baltimore.

In 2020, Za'Darius Smith earned his maiden first-team All-Pro selection, becoming the first Packers linebacker to be named an All-Pro since Clay Matthews in 2012.

2.Julius Peppers

The Green Bay Packers signed free agent Julius Peppers in 2014, who previously played for the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.

Peppers added his pass-rushing ability and experience to the Packers' defense. He played at a high level, recording 25 sacks in three seasons with the Packers, including 10.5 in 2015.

Peppers earned a trip to the Pro Bowl that season with his athletic performances. He forced eight fumbles and knocked down 14 passes during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers.

Peppers spent the final two years of his career with the Panthers before retiring in 2018. He finished his Hall of Fame NFL career with 159.5 sacks.

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1. Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson's NFL career was at a crossroads when he joined the Packers in 2006. He initially didn't want to join the team but learned he loved playing in Green Bay and flourished during his time with the team.

While with the Packers, he was named to four straight Pro Bowls between 2008-2011 and was a two-time All-Pro. In 2009, he was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

The former Michigan star led the league in interceptions twice while with the Packers. He caught nine pass attempts from opposition QBs in 2009 and seven more in 2011. He also returned nine interceptions for touchdowns, including a league-high three in 2009.

Woodson was a team captain and the leader of the Packers' defense in 2010. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV. In 2021, Woodson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Published 03 Apr 2021, 01:00 IST
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