GREEN BAY – The Packers welcomed a new veteran outside linebacker to their pass rush in 2017 with the signing of two-time All-Pro Ahmad Brooks on Sunday.
The 11th-year veteran, who has played most of his career in a 3-4 defense, brings experience and depth to Green Bay, where he’ll join the edge-rushing tandem of Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.
Brooks has played in 120 of a possible 128 regular-season games over the last eight seasons, recording 333 tackles, 51½ sacks, 11 forced fumbles and three interceptions during that stretch.
The 33-year-old outside linebacker had at least five sacks during each of those eight seasons, tying for the San Francisco team lead with six in 2016. Brooks’ release comes on the heels of the 49ers transitioning from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense under new coach Kyle Shanahan.
Brooks, who has played the Packers five times in his career, visited Green Bay prior to signing. When asked about the 6-foot-4, 259-pound veteran, Packers associate head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss spoke highly of Brooks’ resume.
“Tough. Tough. Physically imposing,” said Moss during the most recent media availability with the Packers’ defensive coaching staff. “A rusher. He can play very well versus the run. He can play stout versus the tight end. He can do everything that we would ask him to do in our scheme.
“He can play to the tight end side or the open end side. He can play the outside linebacker position. He can play the elephant. If he were to be placed on our roster … he could come right in and fit right in.”
There’s sound logic behind Moss’ words with similarities between the scheme Dom Capers runs in Green Bay and the system in which Brooks thrived under former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who previously served in the same capacity when Capers was the head coach in Carolina (1995-98) and Houston (2002-05).
Brooks, who joins his former 49ers teammate Ricky Jean Francois in Green Bay, is the sixth vested veteran the Packers have signed outside of the organization this year.
The Packers like their holdings at outside linebacker behind Matthews and Perry, but injuries have muddied the forecast in recent weeks.
Rookie fourth-round pick Vince Biegel (foot) missed all of training camp on the physically unable to perform list and Jayrone Elliott dealt with back spasms before being traded to Dallas Sunday. Matthews (groin tightness) and Perry (ankle) also dropped out of the 20-17 preseason loss in Denver for precautionary reasons.
While neither injury is considered long-term, the Packers found Brooks to be an attractive option to fill the experience void left by the departure of Julius Peppers and Datone Jones in free agency earlier this year. In addition to Brooks, the Packers added another outside linebacker Sunday, claiming Chris Odom off waivers from Atlanta.
Peppers, who was 34 when he signed with the Packers in March 2014, didn’t miss a game in his three seasons in Green Bay, tallying 104 tackles, 25 sacks, 14 pass deflections and 10 forced fumbles.
A third-round pick by Cincinnati in the 2006 NFL Supplemental Draft, Brooks will now look to be the next established veteran to find success in Green Bay’s defense.