Biggest Roster Weakness: NFC North

The 2019 regular season is right around the corner, but every NFL team still has at least one position on its roster that could use improvement. And there’s still plenty of time to address those areas of need! Free agents are readily available on the open market, while preseason trades provide another avenue of player procurement. 19 NFL trades were executed between August 1st and September 1st of 2018, and that number could increase this year.

Let’s take a look at the weakest positional group — and a potential solution — for each NFL club. Today we’ll examine the NFC North:

Chicago Bears

  • Weakness: Kicker. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Cody Parkey finished third-to-last in the NFL with a 76.7% conversion rate in 2018 and had a game-winning kick blocked in the final seconds of the Bears’ Wild Card round loss to the Eagles. Chicago took on more than $5MM in dead money to part ways with Parkey earlier this year, and after the Bears waived Elliot Fry on Sunday, Eddy Pineiro is the only kicker remaining on the club’s roster.
  • Solution: Wait for a kicker to get cut or sign Matt Bryant. The Bears were reportedly in on ex-Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik before the Vikings acquired him for a fifth-round pick, so Chicago is definitely attempting to upgrade its special teams unit. Carolina, for one, has a kicking situation to monitor: veteran Graham Gano can’t get healthy, leaving the door open for Joey Slye to go five-for-five in the preseason. The Bears could target either one of the Panthers’ kickers via trade, or hope that another veteran like Dan Bailey — who could be pushed out of Minnesota by Vedvik — is released. Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Bryant, who converted 95% of his kicks in 2018 (including four-of-five from 50+ yards), is still available on the open market.

Detroit Lions

  • Weakness: Offensive guard. Despite having something of a middling overall roster, the Lions don’t have a ton of true weak areas. Cornerback help could potentially be a focal point, but Detroit might need reinforcements at guard, where none of Graham Glasgow, Kenny Wiggins, or Joe Dahl are all that inspiring. The Lions are expected to use a run-heavy game plan in 2018, and supplementing the middle of their offensive line could help them improve from a No. 20 ranking in Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards.
  • Solution: Trade for Joshua Garnett. Like Burns, Garnett is a 2016 first-rounder who hasn’t exactly worked out thus far. The 49ers have already declined Garnett’s fifth-year option for 2020, and he’s not expected to start at guard ahead of Mike Person or Laken Tomlinson. Now 25 years old, Garnett missed the entire 2017 campaign with a knee injury and saw action in only seven games last year as a reserve, but he’s now thought to be fully healthy. The former Stanford Cardinal shouldn’t cost much more than a late-round pick to acquire.

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

  • Weakness: Defensive tackle. Minnesota suffered a substantial loss to its defensive line when it failed to re-sign Sheldon Richardson, whom Pro Football Focus graded as the NFL’s No. 47 interior defender in 2018. To fill the void left by Richardson, the Vikings have reunited with Shamar Stephen, who finished as a bottom-20 defensive tackle in PFF’s rankings. While they have a few recent mid-round picks in reserve (Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes), the Vikings could look to bring in a veteran to pair with starter Linval Joseph.
  • Solution: Sign Corey Liuget. The 2018 season couldn’t have gone much worse for Liuget, as a suspension, pay cut, and season-ending knee injury littered what became a lost campaign. Cut by the Chargers in February, Liguet has since met with the Giants, Seahawks, Jaguars, and Cardinals but has failed to land a new deal. Always a solid run defender, Liuget could also give the Vikings an interior pass-rush boost.

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16 comments on “Biggest Roster Weakness: NFC North

  1. lyingsfan

    Why would the Lions (other than being the Lions) trade for an offensive guard who is struggling elsewhere?

    • brewcrew08

      Not LB. MLB. Have ZaDarius Smith, Preston Smith, Fackrell, Gary on the outside. Don’t have much depth at all behind Martinez in the middle. Burks is out a while and Summer is a 7th rounder you can’t count on. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the packers get creative and play many downs with Martinez as the only true MLB out there. Could also see a guy like Josh Jones in the box more

  2. phillyballers

    Kicker solution is to wait for failing kicker to get cut. They usually don’t cut good kickers.

    • maximumvelocity

      It depends on situation behind cut. If they are behind an All-pro kicker with a high cap hit, it doesn’t mean that player is bad. It means they had little chance of making the roster in the first place.

      If it’s a veteran like Gano, on the other hand, they can save money. But again, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad kicker.

  3. dray16

    GB’s biggest weakness is at QB. should have fired A-Ron instead of Magic Mike

  4. crosseyedlemon

    It’s been many years since the NFC North has been in a state of flux to this degree. If the Bears suffer some regression with the loss of Fangio it’s going to be a wild free for all and probably the most entertaining division to watch.

    • maximumvelocity

      The Bears should suffer no regression due to Fangio leaving. They have the same players in tact, and they are running a similar system under a DC from same coaching tree. The main difference is that Pagano will likely blitz more, and given how well Smith blitzes from the inside, it will probably improve already great pass rush. People forget Bears best historical defense was in 86, after Buddy Ryan left.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Since you brought up the historical record then you must be aware that regression and the Bears are not strangers. They had the league’s most efficient defense in 2001 and won 9 fewer games the following season. In 2006 they had the 2nd most efficient defense and won 6 fewer games in 2007. In no universe is Pagano as good a coach as Fangio.

  5. Rondon

    Matt Bryant has primarily kicked indoors. He’d be a risky choice for the Bears and winter kicking in Soldier Field.

  6. Vanilla Good

    WR depth? No. it’s the defense. Question mark at MLB and a bunch of new faces. Also Rodgers’ health.

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