These aren’t Ted Thompson’s Packers.
The former G.M. of the franchise treated free agency like a ball of anthrax covered in smallpox. The new G.M. of the team, Brian Gutekunst, is embracing it.
So far this week, the Packers have added defensive end Za'Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and offensive lineman Billy Turner. And with signing bonuses the primary device for paying out guaranteed money under each of these deals, the Packers will be paying a total of $56 million up front to these four players.
Per a source with knowledge of the contracts, Za’Darius Smith gets $20 million, Preston Smith gets $16 million, Amos gets $11 million, and Turner gets $9 million. With the exception of a $1 million roster bonus paid to Amos this year, these four deals carry no other guaranteed money.
This is a twist on the pay-as-you-go approach that plenty of other teams employ, consisting of guaranteed money being dumped into future years. The Packers instead will peel off the big bills early, keeping the first year cap charge low and pushing millions of cap costs into future years, with little or no guaranteed payments for the players beyond the first payment earned.