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NFC North Roundup: What the Bears’ rivals have done this offseason

We’ve talked a lot about the Bears’ offseason moves so far, and rightfully so. But as they say, keep your friends close and enemies closer. I’m always keeping tabs on what the Packers, Vikings and Lions are up to.

Let’s take a look at what our friendly neighbors have accomplished.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is unfortunately still around. Speculation grew after they lost at home to San Francisco in the divisional round that Rodgers would be out of town. That has not come to fruition, but instead, another star was shipped out.

Arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Davante Adams was traded to Las Vegas as the Packers franchise tagged him. Adams was not going to play on the franchise tag and couldn’t work out a long term deal with the team.

That leaves the Packers’ wide receiver group with a large talent gap. We’ve talked about the Bears’ WR room being underwhelming, but take a look at what Green Bay has.

Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Amari Rodgers.

Is Rodgers happy with that group? We still have the draft coming up, but the Packers have refused to spend high draft capital during Rodgers’ tenure.

That was the biggest move Green Bay has made this offseason. The other storyline has centered around their salary cap situation. They were able to sign Rodgers to a three-year $150 million extension, but at the expense of some other players. Other than Adams, Za’Darius Smith was released, although he didn’t play much last year with a back injury.

Rodgers’ extension and Adams’ departure has left some major questions to be answered in Green Bay, but still remain the favorites in the division. As long as Rodgers remains, it will stay that way.

Minnesota Vikings

The biggest change for the Vikings this offseason came on the sidelines. Head coach Mike Zimmer was fired and Kevin O’Connell was brought in. O’Connell was previously the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator. He’s another young offensive mind that seemingly every team gravitates towards these days.

Zimmer’s specialty was defense and it had gotten worse over the last few years, so a change was imminent.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a one year extension that will keep him in town through 2023. It includes two voidable years in 2024 and 2025.

They’ve made a few signings to shore up their defense. Za’Darius Smith, who was released by the Packers, made the short trip west and signed with the Vikings on a three-year contract. Linebacker Jordan Hicks and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips both signed multi-year deals in the Twin Cities.

A so-so offseason for Minnesota still has them thinking playoffs in 2022. They’ll have a new coach just like the Bears and should experience some of that new energy in the building.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are in a full-on rebuild (again) and their moves this offseason amplify that. They’ve maintained their cap space and kept key players in house.

Their offseason centers around the draft, where they possess the #2 overall pick. They figure to take either Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, essentially whoever the Jaguars don’t take. That’ll help shore up their pass rush to help their defensive unit as a whole.

On offense, wide receiver DJ Chark was signed on a one-year deal from Jacksonville. He’ll join the pass catching group of Kalif Raymond, TJ Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown (who came on towards the end of last season), to make for an intriguing group.

In the last six games of the 2021 season, St. Brown had at least eight catches and 70 yards in each game with five touchdowns.

Detroit has their eye on the future. Jared Goff remains the quarterback, but it’s likely they move on from him after 2022, or at least draft a QB in the 2023 draft to challenge him, which projects to be a strong class. CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and Spencer Rattler highlight the class.

The Lions will be pegged to finish last in the division yet again in 2022.

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