Packers keep spending big in free agency, add Muhammad Wilkerson to defensive line

The 2018 Green Bay Packers are not your father's Green Bay Packers, or even your younger uncle's Green Bay Packers, because these Green Bay Packers are spending big early in free agency. Not long after adding tight end Jimmy Graham on a three-year deal, the Packers bolstered their defense by bringing in a player new defensive coordinator is Mike Pettine is familiar with in Muhammad Wilkerson

Wilkerson was cut earlier this offseason by the Jets just two years into signing a mammoth $86 million extension.

The former first-round pick was part of a defensive line many thought would be dominant. Damon Harrison left in free agency, Sheldon Richardson was traded and now Wilkerson is gone to Green Bay.

In good news for Wilkerson, he can be reinvigorated by playing for a winner, something CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported was important to him when discussing Wilkerson on our Pick Six Podcast Free Agency Preview (listen and subscribe to all episodes here). 

He'll also get to do playing with his old defensive coordinator Pettine, who was on the Jets with Rex Ryan when Wilkerson was drafted by New York back in 2011. 

For the Packers, this is another departure from their traditionally conservative approach to free agency. Under Ted Thompson, Green Bay usually sat out the first wave of free agency, infuriating the fan base. It was a major point of contention when the Packers switched general managers and put Brian Gutekunst in charge this offseason.

The new GM has delivered early, leaping into free agency to add Graham at the tight end position and Wilkerson on the defensive side of the ball.

But it's come at a price, with the Packers also cutting Jordy Nelson, a longtime top target for Aaron Rodgers

The defense is going to look pretty interesting in Green Bay. Josh Jones and Kevin King look like solid additions from last year's draft. Up front, Wilkerson will combine with Mike Daniels, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry to provide a versatile group of players in the front seven who can generate a rush and slow down the run. 

Wilkerson has a world of upside but struggled last year with the Jets. If the Packers can unlock his top end ability, he could end up looking like a really nice signing early in free agency. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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