Packers Sign Free Agent OL Billy Turner
The Packers have continued their free agent bonanza, signing offensive lineman Billy Turner, who most recently played for the Denver Broncos. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein first reported the news.
The enormous Turner (6-5, 315) played in all 16 games for the Denver Broncos last year, starting 11. He was originally selected by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Turner was SB Nation’s 93rd ranked free agent in this year’s class and their 15th ranked offensive linemen.
Why they made the move:
It’s no secret that the Packers have struggled at guard the last two seasons. Jahri Evans, Justin McCray, and Byron Bell have all had opportunities, but none have proven to be long term answers.
Turner may not be either, but he bears the hallmarks of a lineman appealing to the Packers. A college tackle, Turner has mainly played guard in the NFL. He can still play tackle but hasn’t had as much success there. A failed outing (on short notice, but still) at the position was one of the reasons for his exit in Miami. Still, that versatility has always been appealing to the Packers. Turner will probably get a crack at right guard and serve as a swing backup at tackle.
Beyond that, Turner has some appealing scheme experience. Denver offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s scheme was heavily reliant on outside zone runs in 2018, and new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has preached the outside zone gospel since he arrived in Green Bay. Getting a large player with positional versatility and experience in a similar running scheme makes sense for the Packers.
What it means for the Packers:
The Turner signing sends a clear message: the Packers are going to do what it takes to fix their right guard spot. Signing Turner, even with his reported four-year $28 million price tag, doesn’t mean the guard spot is completely fixed, but it signals a commitment to get it done.
Grade the move: C.
A C, you say? Yep. Every free agent signing is a C until proven otherwise. There are too many variables to grade this move as anything other than completely middle of the road right now. It’s true of Turner and it’ll be true of anyone else the Packers sign.
Turner may be a bit of a reach, but given the state of the right guard position since T.J. Lang’s departure, it may be a necessary one. His contract is more than I would have liked, but it could be more palatable once we see the cash flow. Still, Turner’s experience in a zone blocking scheme is not an inconsiderable asset. If he can stay healthy and at least be average to slightly above average, that’s a big improvement for the Packers at a spot that’s been a headache.