The Packers officially acquired linebacker, B.J. Goodson, via trade this morning but the Packers should not be satisfied there. They still need depth at the linebacker position and need a guy who has different strengths than Blake Martinez and Goodson.
The San Francisco 49ers released Malcolm Smith on August 27th earlier this summer and he is the guy the Packers NEED to acquire. Smith played for the Seahawks from 2011 through 2014 as Seattle’s jack-of-all-trades linebacker. In 2014, he won the Super Bowl XLVIII MVP award when the Seahawks beat the Broncos, 48-3. In that game, Smith had nine tackles, one fumble recovery, and a 69-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
After the Seahawks, Smith was signed by the Oakland Raiders and had two breakout seasons as a dominant middle linebacker. In those two years, Smith played in 31 games and had 226 combined tackles which averages to 113 per season. He also had 15 tackles for a loss, 9 pass deflections, 8 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, 4 sacks, and 2 picks. These numbers allowed him to have a combined two year AV of 15. Based on his play with the Raiders, the 49ers signed him in March of 2017 to a five-year, $26.5 million dollar contract.
When he was signed, Malcolm Smith was expected to produce at a Pro-Bowl level but injuries and inconsistent playing time caused him not to live up to expectations. In fact, he missed all of 2017 with a torn pectoral muscle angering fans who already believed he was not worth the money. In 2018, Smith played in 12 games and only started 5 of them for San Francisco. He registered an uninspiring 35 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 3 quarterback hits.
Malcolm Smith’s last two seasons have caused many teams and fans to be out on the 30-year-old linebacker, which explains his release. However, Smith is a player who still has a lot to give as a number two or three linebacker. My favorite thing about Smith is that he is a great cover linebacker which is a flaw in both Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson’s games. He excels at covering a lot of space quickly and making the sure tackle. Also, he can put pressure on the QB when called upon. Smith’s speed is what sets him apart from any other free agent linebacker the Packers can target. When he ran his 40 yard dash, he was clocked at a blazing 4.44. This actually makes him faster than Packers like Jimmy Graham, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams.
The Packers could acquire Smith at a very fair price considering he is not generating much interest from other teams. By signing Smith, Green Bay would be getting a former Super Bowl MVP who has a lot of experience in the NFL. In a week the Packers linebacker group would go from Blake Martinez, Ty Summers, and James Crawford to Blake Martinez, B.J. Goodson, and Malcolm Smith. That is an upgrade that would add to an already intriguing Green Bay defense.