GREEN BAY – Billy Turner knew that entering free agency he’d probably be on the move again.
But now that he’s with his fourth team in six years, he’s welcoming the thought of potentially settling in somewhere for a while.
“It’s definitely a positive to this – having an organization behind you, backing you all the way and compensating you in a way that makes you feel comfortable to walk into the building every day and comfortable knowing that you’re wanted here…,” Turner said shortly after signing a free-agent contract with the Packers.
“So it’s definitely nice to be in a place where I’m wanted, and at the same time I’m not too far from home.”
The Minnesota native and versatile offensive lineman has played for both Miami and Denver in his career, with an ultra-brief stop at Baltimore in between. He has started games at four different positions in his career, but the majority have come at guard, where the Packers have an open starting spot on the right side heading into 2019.
Turner isn’t taking anything for granted as he joins the Packers. He’s focused on being one of the team’s “best five” linemen and taking it from there. But Green Bay also didn’t sign him at the dawn of free agency just for depth.
His film from starting the last seven games of 2018 for the Broncos at left guard generated interest early in the process, so he wasn’t on the market long despite the journeyman label.
The Packers’ head coaching change and Matt LaFleur’s offense definitely factored into Green Bay’s desire to bring him aboard. Coming out of North Dakota State five years ago, Turner clocked a 5.16-second time in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, impressive for a lineman weighing 300-plus pounds. It played into the FCS standout getting drafted in the third round by the Dolphins.
Turner remains the same big guy who can move, and he’s eager to show it in LaFleur’s outside zone run scheme that requires its linemen to move laterally in swift but powerful fashion. It’s the first blocking scheme Turner was introduced to as a pro in Miami, so he has established roots in it.
“I’m an offensive lineman, but I don’t think that I move like an offensive lineman,” Turner said. “I use my athleticism to my advantage, and it works well for me. So being able to move in space well and to run off the football and move guys around in the run game, I think, was part of the reason why Green Bay liked me.”
Snapshots of newly-signed Green Bay Packers T/G Billy Turner
Having grown up watching the Vikings-Packers rivalry, and with a father who played for both teams, Turner admitted it was a little surreal to walk into Green Bay’s locker room on Thursday.
But a long-term contract signed and sealed is a culmination, for now, of a rather extensive journey that has seen him go from the FCS, to Day 2 draft pick, to starter, to released twice, to starter again at two different positions last year.
“It’s definitely gratifying but at the same time I’ve got a long road ahead of me and I think I’ve got a lot of things left out there that I want to accomplish,” he said.
“Obviously, I haven’t been a guy that started every single game and started on every team that he’s been a part of, but at the same time every year that I’ve been in this league, I’ve gotten better. And I think my best years are in front of me.”