The Green Bay Packers have agreed to a deal with Preston Smith, ending the edge rusher’s time in Washington. A person familiar with the negotiation confirmed the deal, which was first reported by ESPN, on the condition of anonymity. The deal cannot become official until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Smith’s departure isn’t a surprise, as his value outside Washington was likely to be higher than inside Redskins Park. Other organizations saw a 26-year-old with an impressive, 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame, and envisioned future dominant play coming off the edge. The Packers also have a familiar face on the defensive staff after hiring former Redskins inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti.
Smith’s 24.5 career sacks are tied with Houston’s Whitney Mercilus for the 39th-most since 2015, but the Redskins have been frustrated by inconsistency in Smith’s play. He does have a pair of eight-sack seasons, and given his age he should be entering his prime.
ESPN reported a four-year deal worth $52 million with $16 million fully guaranteed at signing for the 2015 second-round pick. The Redskins were unlikely to be in the mix at that price.
Smith is the second major free agent set to leave Washington, after Jamison Crowder agreed to a three-year, $28.5 million deal with the New York Jets.
“You want to upgrade. You want to get a better pass rusher than him,” NFL Network analyst and former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly said of Smith previously. “He plays the run okay, but you need a better pass rusher, so you can’t overpay the guy. You might just put [Ryan] Anderson in there and go play … Smith doesn’t have outside speed, that’s what he lacks. Without having outside speed, that’s going to limit him as a pass rusher.”
Ryan Anderson is expected to take Smith’s place in the Redskins’ starting lineup. The Alabama product was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, has played 27 games in two seasons without a start, and recorded the first two sacks of his career last season. The 6-2, 253-pounder has 32 career tackles.
The Redskins were active on Monday, the first day of the free agent negotiating period, by agreeing to a six-year, $84 million deal with safety Landon Collins.
Nsekhe agrees to deal with Buffalo Bills
The Redskins also lost backup tackle Ty Nsekhe, who agreed to a two-year contract with Buffalo worth $14.5 million, including $7.7 million guaranteed, his agent Vince Taylor said. Washington liked Nsekhe, 33, a longtime arena football player who became an important piece of the offensive line filling in at both tackle spots, and expressed interest in keeping him, Taylor said, but had acknowledged that Nsekhe had earned the right to start.
With the Redskins, Nsekhe would have remained a backup for Trent Williams and Morgan Moses.
Les Carpenter contributed to this report.