The Lions have made some great moves in free agency – how have the rest of the NFC North fared?
Did you just feel that breeze?
Yeah, me too.
It’s coming from the Super Bowl window Bob Quinn just opened for the Lions with the acquisitions of both RT Rick “don’t call him Ricky” Wagner and T.J. “hometown hero” Lang. If you have a death wish come fall 2017, take a shot every time an announcer says Lang played just up the road at Brother Rice High School.
We all have been up to date on what has been going on with the Lions, but how did the rest of the division do in the 2017 edition of free agency? Let’s take a look.
The monsters of the midway (who, I’m sure you won’t mind me reminding, are 1-7 against the Lions over the last four years) made one of the bigger splashes within the opening hours of the league year by signing QB Mike Glennon to a three year deal. They likely much preferred Jimmy Garoppolo or Tyrod Taylor, but those options didn’t pan out. It’s purely a stab in the dark for a Bears regime one bad year away from getting fired. Glennon probably has the tools to be a capable NFL QB with some help, but his surrounding talent is poor. Speaking of poor surrounding talent, Alshon Jefferey skipped town for Philly while also declining a contract from the Vikings.
The Bears also lost Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley to the 49ers. They made improvements in the secondary by signing Safety Quintin Demps and Corner Prince Amukamara. Overall the Bears have a chance to be good on defense, but the entire offense will be a question mark heading into week one.
The front office is feeling the pressure to put together a winning year, and their signings reflect that. It’ll either work out, or set the franchise back for years to come.
The Lions were able to keep Rick Wagner from the Vikings and the Bears, which is a huge win. In turn, the Vikings took Riley Reiff from the Motor City (gasp!).
*Cue the Viking fans crooning about Reiff returning to his ‘natural’ position*
Reiff played decently in his year at right tackle for the Lions, but any Lions fan knows he isn’t worth the $11.5 million a year he was paid. The Vikings also signed right tackle Mike Remmers. Ultimately, the Vikings had to make these moves and over-pay to fix their Swiss cheese line. They got better in the short term, however these deals may hurt them in seasons to come when they’re over-paying for below-average tackle play. Obviously they lost Peterson, but he wasn’t in their plans anyways. They also lost veteran corner Captain Munnerlyn and back-up tight end Rhett Ellison.
Rick Spielman fixed a glaring need along the line, but overall they missed out on their top targets in Alshon Jefferey and Rick Wagner. A great draft can make up for this.
Green Bay Packers:
The Packers are usually silent in free agency, but made a bit of a splash by bringing Martellus Bennett back to the NFC North. They also signed tight end Lance Kendricks, creating a duo that could be problematic (especially given the Lions’ depleted LB core). They re-signed linebacker Nick Perry to a $50 million deal, but lost aging vet Julius Peppers. Eddie Lacy appears to be heading out, but there’s still a chance he comes back to Green Bay.
The Packers made a few moves, but per the status quo didn’t break the bank and will look to build through the draft and from within.
The Lions seem to have done the best so far in free agency by addressing their needs without breaking the bank, and not losing too many guys on the other end. As we’ve seen it multiple times however, the winners in March aren’t always the winners in February.
April 27-29th will be the last major opportunity for all four teams in the North to make major upgrades to their rosters.
After that, there are games to be played.