GREEN BAY, Wis. (WSAW)- The Packers were much quieter in free agency this year than they were last, and the players they did sign, have also been quiet. We haven't heard much from them because of the Coronavirus.
But if the Pack are going to take it to another level on defense next year, new inside linebacker Christian Kirksey is someone to keep an eye on.
"You know I'm just ready to rock out now."
After six seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Kirksey hit the open market last month. The St. Louis native had discussions with the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills, but first impressions are everything, and they couldn't top Green Bay there.
"Just walking into that building, it just reminded me of you know just winning,” said Kirksey. “You know and the first thing I saw was the Lombardi trophy from the floor to the ceiling."
Familiar faces always help too, and Kirksey's head coach his first two years in the league? Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
"You know me and him always had a good relationship, from the day he drafted me to now,” said Kirksey. “He kept tabs on me, you know just checking in here and there. Then you know when he saw I was up for grabs, you know he immediately went for it.
“It's one of those things where when you build a relationship outside of football, you know it definitely helps you on the field where you can build that trust, and you know that person in and out."
While free agency saw the Packers lose one very popular Iowa alum in Bryan Bulaga, Kirksey is also a former Hawkeye, and Titletown gave him a familiar vibe.
"The city is kind of the same in a sense,” said Kirksey. “You know everybody knows everyone it seems like, everybody's bought into the city, everybody is supportive. “So it was kind of a no-brainer once I had my visit there, and I think I'll be a good fit."
The additions of Za'Darius and Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner last offseason helped the Pack between the white lines, but also helped transform the locker room. That’s something Kirksey should have no trouble doing in his own right.
"I'm a personable person,” said Kirksey. “I feel like I know when to step outside of myself and to look at things in a different light or a different angle.”
“I know how to put other people before me. I'm always going to give 110% effort when it comes to being the best teammate I can be. You know going out there and being the best player I can be. I think I lead by example"
The Packers hope Kirksey will be an upgrade from the departed Blake Martinez. They did sign him to a bit of a bargain deal, two-years, $16 million, because he's played in just nine games the last two seasons, and only two last year after suffering a chest injury.
"Injuries happen, it's part of the game,” Kirksey said. “I'm just glad that, working with the trainers I'm working with, and you know my team we're getting myself to 100%.”
“So you know I'm ready, I'm ready to show the Packers what I got, Packer nation, and just bringing a little juice to it you know, so I'm ready to have some fun."