NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Allen, Verner

While Packers‘ free agents Sam Shields and B.J. Raji have been getting all of the attention early on this offseason, Bill Polian of ESPN writes that neither player is the top free agent the Packers must try to re-sign. According to Polian, Evan Dietrich-Smith is the free agent with the highest grade. He wrote that while Shields is a good cover corner, he is not a great tackler, and that Raji would only fit in a defense that would not require movement from its nose tackle.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North:

  • The Lions have a need at safety, but they will not have the resources to go after a big name in free agency, writes Michael Rothstein of He sees James Ihedigbo, Ryan Clark, and Donte Whitner as affordable options. Other interesting and cheap options could include Steve Gregory and Chris Clemons. If the team would like to attract a bigger name, they could look at converting either Champ Bailey or Rashean Mathis to safety from corner.
  • While Jared Allen and his agent have not talked to the Vikings about returning yet, the free agent defensive end has not ruled them out as a potential landing spot, reports Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter).
  • The Vikings called to gauge interest in Alterraun Verner, reports Ben Goessling of (via Twitter). Vikings defensive back coach Jerry Gray was previously Verner’s defensive coordinator with the Titans. The team has also expressed interest in defensive tackle Paul Soliai, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (via Twitter).
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