Free agency is underway and the Packers have already addressed two gaping needs on the team.
Free Agent: Inside Linebacker
Christian Kirksey has signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Packers. Kirksey, an inside linebacker, is coming to Green Bay from the Cleveland Browns. At $8 million per season, he is signing a cheaper deal than the one demanded by Blake Martinez, who wants $10 million per season. The addition of Kirksey probably means that Martinez will not be brought back by the Packers.
Kirksey is a six-year NFL veteran who has spent his entire career with the Browns up until this point. His best seasons were in 2016 and 2017, when he had 148 and 138 tackles respectively. He has been plagued with injuries over the past two seasons, appearing in only nine games combined in 2018 and 2019. When healthy, though, he is a game-changer and is certainly an upgrade in terms of pass defending linebackers.
Packers Free Agency: Offensive Lineman
The second need the Packers addressed this morning is on the offensive line. Ricky Wagner, a product of Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, is coming from the Detroit Lions.
Wagner, a former Badger, is coming to the Packers via free agency after spending the last three years in Detroit. He spent the first four years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. The details of his contract have not been released yet, but his signing signals the end of Brian Bulaga’s career in Green Bay.
This is the second year in a row that Packers have turned to free agency to address holes on the team. Last season, the Packers made free agent splashes by signing the “Smith Brothers,” who greatly improved the Green Bay pass rush. The addition of Kirksey in free agency is meant to improve the Packers’ run defense and pass defense in the middle of the field. The Wagner signing is meant to continue to protection of 2-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.
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