The summer of Ted Thompson continues.
After surprisingly opening up his checkbook to sign free agents TE Martellus Bennett, TE Lance Kendricks, DT Ricky Jean Francois, CB Davon House and G Jahri Evans, Thompson has once again dipped into the free agent pool to sign OLB Ahmad Brooks.
Brooks, 33, was recently cut by the rebuilding San Francisco 49ers to save cap room. He is coming off a 53-tackle, six-sack season in which he was one of the only solid defenders on struggling Niners defense. He led the team with 31 quarterback hurries in 2016 but has seen his play drop off in the running game since his peak days in 2012. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and twice was honored as Second-Team All-Pro Defense. He is currently 20th on the active career sacks leaderboard with 53.5.
Even at age 33, Brooks has averaged at least six sacks per season over the last three seasons without much help from other Niners pass rushers. He projects to play behind current starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry at outside linebacker and will likely rotate in frequently on passing downs. In addition to an added boost on passing downs, Green Bay was sorely lacking depth in its front seven due to injuries suffered this offseason.
Initially, this was the role billed for rookie fourth round pick Vince Biegel, but he had surgery this offseason and is likely to start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Perry, Matthews and OLB Jayrone Elliott all suffered injuries to some degree in preseason games, turning OLB into a glaring need heading into week one. Perry’s ankle injury is reported to be the least serious, while Matthews’ mystery injury is yet to be discussed by head coach Mike McCarthy. Rookie third round pick DT Montravius Adams is currently out after undergoing surgery on his foot this offseason, while second-year DE Dean Lowry – a projected starter in the base defense – is also nursing a knee injury. Brooks should provide necessary front seven depth in addition to locker room leadership.