Week 1 NFC North Free Agency Round Up

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We are now one whole week into the NFC North free agency, and there have been some serious moves. The Vikings continue to push towards the commonly worded “competitive rebuild.” They have been signing some young players who have shown promise while focusing on cap flexibility in future years.

However, the reality of the NFL is that nothing happens in a bubble. The Vikings might be the reigning NFC North Champions, but there will be some stiff competition come September. The Lions, Bears, and Packers are all making their own moves to take back the title.

The Lions were arguably the better team, even if their record suggested otherwise. Their offense in 2022 was potent, and their defense was terrible. In other words, they were the Vikings but with fewer breaks going their way.

The Bears, well, the Bears were a catastrophe in 2022. However, they have been busy spending money on free agency and have significant draft capital. Although, whatever their plan is, it will revolve around Justin Fields taking a huge step forward in year 2.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10), Aaron Rodgers (12), and Danny Etling (19) run to the practice field during training camp on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

Meanwhile, the Packers are in a state of unknown turmoil as we speak. Aaron Rodgers is on his way out the door, and Jordan Love is set to be the starter in 2023. How exactly will they navigate the remaining time of free agency and the draft to build a roster that doesn’t have the safety blanket of Aaron Rodgers?

Let’s look closely at what each team has done and make a too-early prediction of who wins the NFC North.

NFC North Free Agency Dealings Might Lead to the Lions Being an Unstoppable Force

NFC North Free Agency
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, a 2nd-Round draft pick. He was welcomed to the Vikings from free agency in March 2023.

The most significant moves from the Vikings so far are the Kirk Cousins restructure, Marcus Davenport’s 1-year deal, and Byron Murphy’s 2-year deal. They have reworked Cousins’ contract to allow a negotiation period after this upcoming season, but the harsh reality is that he might be in his last year for the Vikings. The signing of Davenport and Murphy indicates the team wants to build up a younger, faster defense.

Although the Vikings are working on revamping their defense, their offense is basically staying intake, except for Adam Thielen. They must address wide receiver in the coming weeks of free agency or make a move in the draft. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The most intriguing team in the NFC North has to be the Lions. They were one of the worst defenses in the league in 2022, and they are working diligently to address this in free agency. Most notably, the Lions have signed Cameron Sutton, Emmanual Moseley, and C.J. Garner-Johnson to beef up their secondary.

Clearly, the Lions understand that they needed to bring in as much talent as possible into that secondary to better their odds of winning the NFC North. The move has clearly worked, as sportsbooks have them as the favorites to win it in 2023.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Bears are an interesting team to watch. As I said, their success relies on Justin Fields taking a massive step forward as a passer in 2023. Can he do it? Yes. Will he? I don’t know. Regardless, their blockbuster trade out of the first overall pick landed them D.J. Moore, and they beefed up their offensive line with Nate Davis.

Additionally, the Bears are working to improve their defense with massive additions like Tremaine Edmunds, TJ Edwards, and DeMarcus Walker. Also, they have a ton of draft capital to deploy to bring in some young talent. Although, they are building a team from scratch, so there is a lot to be seen.

The Packers are hardly worth discussing at this time. Their entire off-season is on hold pending the trade of Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. What do they get for compensation? How are they going to surround Jordan Love with talent? Will they even make a run at the season with Love, or will they draft a QB? This is why they are currently ranked last in the odds of winning the NFC North.

With all of the information we have so far from the NFC North free agency moves, who wins the NFC North?

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the Lions. Their offense was explosive and efficient in 2022. If this carries over into the upcoming season and their defense improves with all the investment they have put into it, watch out. This Lions team could make a serious run.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3