Ex-Cats

Former Kentucky star cashes in with $66 million contract from Packers

Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator not starting from scratch

New Kentucky football defensive coordinator Brad White talked to the media on Thursday, March 7, 2019, about being the defensive play-caller. White replaced Matt House, who left UK to become an assistant with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
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New Kentucky football defensive coordinator Brad White talked to the media on Thursday, March 7, 2019, about being the defensive play-caller. White replaced Matt House, who left UK to become an assistant with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Za’Darius Smith, the former Kentucky football standout who is coming off his best statistical season of his four-year NFL career, has agreed to free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the Packers were expected to bring Smith in after having unsuccessfully pursued him in a trade earlier in his career.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson shortly after tweeted that Smith had texted her to confirm the move.

Smith, a 6-4, 272-pound edge rusher, recorded a team-high 8.5 sacks for the Baltimore Ravens last season. The 26-year-old was drafted in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015 after two years as a starter at Kentucky as a transfer from East Mississippi Community College.

Smith’s agency, SportsTrust Advisors, tweeted that the player’s contract will be for four years and $66 million with $20 million as a signing bonus. Also, he’s slated to earn $34.5 million in the first two years of the deal.

The contract cannot be finalized until Wednesday afternoon.

Smith could be coming in at the same time another Kentucky star is on his way out of Green Bay. Randall Cobb, whose UK career preceded Smith’s by a couple of years, also becomes a free agent this offseason and reportedly the Packers will let him test the market. Cobb has been with the team since being drafted in the second round in 2011. He made the Pro Bowl in 2014.

Jared Peck has been the Herald-Leader’s Real-Time Sports Writer since 2016 and has been with the company as a writer and editor for more than 18 years.


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