Assessing the NFC North Offseason

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Right now we should be getting really excited about the NFL Draft, but Roger Goodell got greedy and moved it back to May so that the NFL could control every month of the year, so we are left with a slow news time for the Packers.

This is a good time to look at what the other three teams in the NFC North have done in the offseason up to this point. If you’re curious to see if their moves have improved their odds of making it to the Super Bowl, take a look here at the updated NFL Lines.

And now, without further ado:

 

Chicago Bears:

Additions:                          Losses:

Lamarr Houston            Julius Peppers

Jared Allen                     Devin Hester

Ryan Mundy                 Henry Melton

M.D. Jennings             Cory Wootton

Willie Young                Michael Bush

Josh McCown

The Bears have had a very busy offseason with all the additions and subtractions listed above and re-signing Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman and Matt Slauson. They always seem to “win” the offseason with big moves, but have still not been able to catch the Packers.

The big thing the Bears have done so far is completely rebuild their porous defensive line from last season by releasing Peppers and signing Houston, Young and Allen. Houston is their best signing and somebody that I wish Ted Thompson would have pursued harder.

The Bears gave Houston $15 million guaranteed, which is a fine number for an ascending pass rusher who is an even better player against the run.  Signing Young for only $3.95 million guaranteed was also a steal, as he is a very underrated pass rusher.

However, the Allen signing makes very little sense to me and is a pretty big overpay. It is typical of the Bears, who always seem to be chasing the big name. They gave Allen $15 million guaranteed, which is twice the amount that the Packers are paying Peppers. Is Allen twice as good as Peppers? He is certainly not, as he was declining last year just like Peppers, despite putting up better sack numbers.

Also, the Bears did not need Allen after signing Houston and Young. Why not invest that money at linebacker or in the secondary where they really need help?

The Bears have a potentially scary offense with an improved pass rush, but if they do not draft better than they have in the past to fix holes at linebacker and the secondary they will still find themselves behind the Packers. Also, will they ever get to where they want to be with Cutler as their quarterback?

 

Detroit Lions:

Additions:                      Losses:

Golden Tate                 Louis Delmas

James Ihedigbo         Willie Young

Cassius Vaughn          Shaun Hill

Darryl Tapp                Nate Burleson

In my opinion, the Lions have had the worst offseson in the NFC North so far. They have not done much of anything that I have liked.

Jim Caldwell is a very poor choice to replace Jim Schwartz. Sure, anybody is probably better than Schwartz for Detroit, but Caldwell is a very underwhelming choice. There is a reason that he got fired by Indianapolis, and it’s not just because Peyton Manning got hurt. Go back and watch the Colts’ loss to the Jets in the AFC Wild Card game, and you will see Caldwell lose the game for them with his egregious clock management.

Lots of people liked the Tate signing for Detroit, but they overpaid for him in what may be the deepest wide receiver draft class ever. They paid $13.25 million guaranteed for a player who has never had more than 900 yards receiving in a season. That’s not just because Seattle runs the ball a lot. Give me a second-round wide receiver in this draft, or Mike Evans in the first if he fell to Detroit, over giving this kind of money to Tate any day of the week.

They also overpaid and brought back tight end Brandon Pettigrew for reasons that I do not understand. They gave $8 million guaranteed to a tight end who has constantly disappointed them and has never lived up to his potential. Pettigrew has had drop and blocking issues. They should have just let him go.

Detroit still has huge needs in the secondary that need to be fixed in the draft.

 

Minnesota Vikings:

Additions:                         Losses:

Linval Joseph                 Jared Allen

Captain Munnerlyn     Letroy Guion

Cory Wootton              Toby Gerhart

Derek Cox                     Chris Cook

John Carlson

The Vikings have done a really nice job so far this offseason, which is a surprise since Rick Spielman is still their general manager.

Spielman scapegoated Leslie Frazier even though the majority of Minnesota’s problems have been caused by Spielman. However, he did hire a great replacement in Mike Zimmer. Zimmer getting a head coaching job has been a long time coming, and he has a great defensive scheme and relationships with players.

The Vikings got great deals for both Joseph and Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn had a great season for Carolina last year and is still in his prime. He will form a very good cornerback duo with Xavier Rhodes.  The Vikings have the best secondary that they have had in many years when you combine them with Harrison Smith at free safety.

Joseph is an ascending defensive tackle who will help improve Minnesota’s interior pass rush. He is a really good athlete for a defensive tackle and had a good start to his career in New York.

The Vikings have really started to assemble some good talent. If they can every find a quarterback they will be a team to be reckoned with, but until that happens it’s unlikely they can find their way to the top in a competitive division.

If you want a full league view of what’s happened in NFL Free Agency, check the free agent tracker on NFL.com.

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Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.

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