Over the past couple weeks, we’ve asked you which teams from the AFC North, AFC East, AFC West, and NFC West had the best offseasons. Today we’ll be looking at the offseason each team from the NFC North had, another division that was quite active.
The Vikings made the biggest splash in the entire league when they signed Kirk Cousins to the NFL’s first ever multi-year fully guaranteed deal for a quarterback. They let three of their quarterbacks from last year, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford walk in free agency. Their offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur left to be the head coach of the Giants and they replaced him with Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. They signed a pair of players away from the division rival Bears, guard Tom Compton and receiver Kendall Wright, and added Pro Bowl defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson from the Seahawks. They lost running back Jerick McKinnon to the 49ers but will return Dalvin Cook who was lost to a torn ACL early last season. They added cornerback Mike Hughes from Central Florida with their first round pick. Overall, there was a lot of turnover from last year’s team that made the NFC Championship game, and the Vikings will be counting on a lot of new faces to help them get back there.
The Bears started their offseason off by firing John Fox, and hiring Matt Nagy to replace him. They looked to bolster last year’s woeful receiving corp by signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency. They also added tight end Trey Burton as another pass-catcher for Mitchell Trubisky. They used the eighth overall pick on Roquan Smith, the linebacker from Georgia. The team cut Mike Glennon after his short four-game tenure as the starting quarterback last year and signed Chase Daniel to be Trubisky’s new veteran mentor backup. The team retained defensive coordinator Vic Fangio after a lot of speculation about his potential departure and matched a large offer sheet that cornerback Kyle Fuller signed with the Packers. Overall, the offseason was all about offense for the Bears, from Nagy’s hiring to the signing of Robinson and Burton. Chicago is looking to set up Trubisky for as much success as possible in his second year, and tangible progress from him will be the most important thing for the team this season.
The Lions also changed coaches, firing Jim Caldwell and hiring Matt Patricia. Patricia, formerly the Patriots defensive coordinator, was a hot name in head coaching searches the past few seasons but no one was able to lure him away until finally Detroit did this spring. They didn’t make many major moves in free agency, but did sign a handful of defensive role players like defensive lineman Sylvester Williams and cornerback DeShawn Shead. They let their former first round pick, tight end Eric Ebron walk in free agency to the Colts. They also let defensive tackle Haloti Ngata sign with the Eagles. They took center Frank Ragnow from Arkansas in the first round of this year’s draft to strengthen the offensive line. They added running back Kerryon Johnson in the second round, who they hope will become the three-down back they’ve been lacking for many years. Overall, besides the coaching change it was a relatively quiet offseason for the Lions. They’ll look to stay the course and hope Matthew Stafford can carry the team to the playoffs yet again.
The Packers made some rare coaching changes. They didn’t retain longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers and replaced him with Mike Pettine. They also fired offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, who was reportedly close with Aaron Rodgers. They hired former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin to be the new offensive coordinator. They cut former star receiver Jordy Nelson and signed defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, tight end Jimmy Graham, and cornerback Tramon Williams. They traded cornerback Damarious Randall to the Browns for quarterback DeShone Kizer, and drafted cornerback Jaire Alexander in the first round. The focus was clearly on addressing the defense, the team’s achilles heel in recent years, and particularly the secondary. Overall, it was an offseason of change, as the team said goodbye to several former staples. Aaron Rodgers will return from the injury that cost him most of the 2017 season, and will once again need to carry the load if the Packers 2018 season is going to be successful.
Which team do you think had the best offseason in the NFC North? Vote in PFR’s poll below and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!