- Packers signed Za’Darius Smith in 2019 NFL free agency
- Smith’s contract is 4 years $66 million with $34.5 million across the first two seasons.
- How will the pass-rusher perform in his first year in Green Bay?
After failing to make the playoffs for consecutive years, general manager Brian Gutekunst realized that he needed to spend money this offseason.
True to his word, they awarded over $180 million dollars in the first few hours of free agency, and most of it went to the defensive side.
Za'Darius Smith's deal with the Packers will come in over $16M a year. No way the Ravens were going to devote $33M a year to keeping him and Mosley at this point.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2019
Arguably their biggest addition was signing edge defender Za’Darius Smith. The former Raven had his best year in 2018, totaling a career-high 8.5 sacks, three of which came in a Week 6 shutout of the Tennessee Titans.
Can he duplicate or improve upon that sack total in 2019 with the Packers? BetOnline has opened a prop on Smith’s sack total, with the over/under set at 7.5.
Za’Darius Smith 2019 Sack Total Odds
|Za’Darius Smith Sacks in 2019||Odds at BetOnline|
|Over 7.5 sacks||-115|
|Under 7.5 sacks||-115|
*Odds taken March 14
In 2018, the Packers finished 29th in defensive DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and 28th against the pass.
Smith’s breakout season saw him generate 60 pressures in 2018, 17th most among edge defenders in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
He had a career-high 45 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, and was among the most efficient defenders in the NFL. He will be relied on heavily to get to the quarterback, which is exactly what they paid him big bucks for.
Here's that versatility with Za'Darius Smith. 3rd-and-12, he's lining up as an interior rusher and just bullies the guard into the QB's lap with a bull rush. pic.twitter.com/EG7bJrwC7E
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) March 12, 2019
Za’Darius Smith Sack Totals Last 4 Years
Pettine Brings Pedigree
Mike Pettine returns as the defensive coordinater for Green Bay, leading a defense that ranked seventh in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt.
Despite a lack in overall efficiency on team defense, the Packers were in the top ten in the league with 44 sacks, the most by a Packers team since 2013.
Those numbers could increase in 2019 with Smith leading the charge. Pettine will utilize Smith in every way possible, and figures to make a real difference on third downs.
No player in football had more sacks and quarterbacks hits on third down than Smith last season, and much of his damage was done when he was moved inside against guards. Expect Pettine to use Smith’s versatility, which should make the Packers significantly better in pass-rushing situations.
Za’darius Smith is entering his prime and is going to be the edge setter that the Green Bay defense desperately needs.
He should thrive in Pettine’s defensive schemes and will have every opportunity to succeed. Smith will be a focal point for opposing teams, but that will not stop him from reaching double-digits in sacks in his first season.
Bet on him to crack 7.5 sacks with ease.