Not surprisingly, the teams that needed to make the most headway in the NFC North – the Bears and Lions – have been the most aggressive since their epic showdown in the’09 season finale. Will those moves translate into Ws for either team in 2010?
I’m guessing one big, half-enthusiastic YES. This could be the homer in me, but I think the North race could be the most interesting in the league next year. The bad teams have gotten better, and the good teams have kept their rosters intact.
Here’s a recap of each team’s offseason as of mid May…
Bears – “A” for effort.
The Midway Monsters were the most aggressive team at the start of free agency, adding three shiny new toys in one wild day – Peppers, Manumaleuna and Taylor. They drafted another potential starter in third-round safety Major Wright; then bolstered the secondary a week later when they traded for strong safety Chris Harris. You have to factor OC hire Mike Martz into the offseason upgrade too. The only area of need that hasn’t been addressed is O-line, but the annual June 1 cuts could present some options. Give Angelo an “A” for effort as he’s worked diligently to fill a bunch of holes.
Lions – Roar restored?
The Bears had better get their interior O-line figured out, because big, bad #2 overall pick Ndamukung Suh is going to be a force from day one…and the Bears get to face him Week One. Throw in Vanden Bosch at DE and the Lions have the most improved D-line in the conference. Kevin Smith is a solid starting RB, but first-rounder Jahvid Best gives them a gamebreaker. They still have questions on the O-line, although the trade for Seahawks guard Rob Sims was a decent maneuver, and it kept him out of Chicago, where he was also wanted by the Bears.
Packers – No news is good news…I guess?
Even more so than the Bears, GB believes in building through the draft. The only notable free agent signing they made was bringing back tackle Chad Clifton. Paired with Mark Tauscher, the Pack’s starting tackles are both on the wrong side of 32. That’s why they spent a first rounder on Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga. It’ll be interesting (hopefully not painful) watching how Green Bay’s third round safety – Morgan Burnett – who they traded up to grab just a few spots in front of the Bears, will compare against the Bears’ Major (Wright).
Vikings – The rich get deeper.
The Vikings were somewhat limited in what they could do free agency wise. With the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the Vikes – as a final eight participant last year – could not sign a free agent until they lost one. With no glaring holes (damn, it hurts to say that), the Vikes chose to add depth in the draft. They went CB (Chris Cook, UVA), RB (Toby Gerhart, Standord) and DE (Everson Griffen, USC) with their first three picks.
And allow me to play spoiler before Favre Watch 2010 fully kicks into high gear – old no. 4 is coming back.