In the past two weeks, Vikings fans have had the pleasure (or pain) of welcoming players like Mike Wallace and Shaun Hill to the team, hoping their additions will lead to continued improvement in 2015. But, the greetings aren’t always so simple — fans were forced to say goodbye to veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings this offseason, and may soon see Adrian Peterson out the door.
The Vikings, however, aren’t the only team making these types of moves — our NFC North neighbors in Green Bay, Detroit, and Chicago have been busy tinkering and fine-tuning their rosters.
A look at the latest news out of the “Black and Blue” division, AFTER THE JUMP!:
Green Bay Packers
The news machine hasn’t exactly been churning in Green Bay, but news broke last Monday that former Packers cornerback Tramon Williams signed with the Cleveland Browns. The 32-year-old free agent agreed to a 3-year, $21 million deal, which appeared to be too expensive for the Packers.
Williams spent 7 seasons in Green Bay, where he recorded 464 tackles and hauled in 28 interceptions. He was one of the team’s veteran leaders on defense, and joins Davon House as the Packers’ second cornerback to depart in free agency.
They’ll certainly miss his production in 2015, but Teddy Bridgewater won’t be too upset when Sam Shields and Casey Hayward take the field next season.
When Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley departed in free agency, many questioned Detroit’s defensive approach — why get rid of the centerpieces of the league’s best defense in 2014? They quickly signed the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata to replace Suh, taking a step back in the process.
Now, the Lions are left scrambling, taking all measures to shore up their defense’s “weakest links”. No signing exemplifies their desperation more than Rashean Mathis, who returned to the team on a 2-year deal worth $3.5 million. At 34 years old, Mathis is not the team’s long-term option at cornerback, but can still provide capable play on the outside.
Last season, he recorded 45 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception, appearing and starting in all 16 of the team’s games. Again, Teddy Bridgewater should be pretty excited to see Mathis on the field next year.
The Bears welcomed a familar face to Chicago last week, signing former Vikings guard Vladimir Ducasse to a one-year, $825,000 contract. Ducasse spent one season with the Vikings, starting 4 games at right guard for the injured Brandon Fusco and 2 at left guard for the injured Charlie Johnson. Joe Berger was signed to a new contract in the offseason, and is the rotational guard the Vikings need heading into 2015.
Ducasse is a converted offensive tackle, and can rotate at either guard position — though not particularly well. A 5-year veteran, Ducasse was selected by the New York Jets in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but struggled to deliver consistent play on the field.
The Bears are currently set with Kyle Long at right guard, and Ducasse is an insurance policy at best in Chicago. Vikings fans will be happy to see Ducasse in blue and orange next season, and Minnesota could potentially draft a starting guard with the 11th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.