LIONS INSIDER

NFC NORTH: What the general managers are saying

Posted Mar 1, 2018

See what Bob Quinn, Brian Gutekunst, Rick Spielman and Ryan Pace had to say down at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.

INDIANAPOLIS – The first day of media access at the NFL Scouting Combine was reserved for general managers and coaches from around the league on Wednesday, including those from the NFC North.

So, what were the key bits of news that came out of each of those sessions?

MINNESOTA

News items:

1. The Vikings have been in constant contact with the NFL regarding the contract status of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Minnesota GM Rick Spielman said it’s still up to the league to determine if Bridgewater will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The expectation is that his contract won’t be rolled into the new league year after Bridgewater’s 2016 knee injury caused him to begin the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Bridgewater is expected to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

2. Will the Vikings use their franchise tag on quarterback Case Keenum? Spielman remained mum on the subject, even though reports say the Vikings won’t use it on the veteran quarterback who guided them to the NFC Championship Game this past season. March 6 is the deadline to use the tag.

3. When it came to hiring a new offensive coordinator to replace Pat Shurmur (Giants head coach), Spielman said it was important that John DeFilippo wanted to keep some of the stuff the Vikings did well on offense last year and then add to it, instead of a total rebuild.

The skinny: Despite a wide range of reports surrounding the Vikings and some of their decisions at quarterback, Spielman says no final decisions have been made at the position.

The three Vikings quarterbacks who played in 2017 – Keenum, Sam Bradford and Bridgewater – all have their contracts set to expire when the new league year begins next month. Will any of them be back? Do they have any interest in Kirk Cousins? We'll see.

Quotable: “There have been no decisions made, and I know there have been a thousand reports out there,” Spielman said of the quarterback position. “We’re going to move forward and continue to evolve this process through the meetings this week with the agents.

“When we get back, we’ll meet and finalize our game plan as we go forward.”

DETROIT

News items:

1. Lions GM Bob Quinn did use the franchise tag on veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah Tuesday morning. Quinn explained Wednesday that Ansah’s benefits to Detroit's defense go beyond just sacks and pressures. Offensive lines shift to Ansah. He sees double teams more than 50 percent of his snaps, which allows others around him to make plays.

2. The Lions haven’t made a decision yet on whether Graham Glasgow will play center or guard in 2018. That will be determined in April, when the bigger picture of the roster is in place.

3. The running back position continues to be an area of high interest in Detroit. Both Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia had a lot of good things to say about this year’s class.

The skinny: Quinn was asked about veteran running back Ameer Abdullah, and admitted Abdullah didn’t show the qualities last season that would list him among the league’s premier backs. But Quinn did say Abdullah has three-down versatility. Reading between the lines, it appears the Lions could be on the lookout for new blood in that room, and a lot of competition in the spring and fall.

Quinn also touched on the past few weeks with new head coach Matt Patricia. Though they’ve gotten a late start to the offseason, things are moving along smoothly, according to Quinn.

Quotable: “It’s been busy,” Quinn said of the last few weeks with Patricia. “It’s been fun. A lot of long hours watching tape, talking through different things. We had a lot of time talking about staff. The staff is kind of coming together pretty good. I feel like we’re getting close there.

“Matt (Patricia) and I have evaluated the roster and kind of dove in to free agency, I’d say the last week or so. Kind of going through guys that might fit what we’re trying to do, it’s been fun. It’s been like the good old days.”

GREEN BAY

News items:

1. Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson was well known for his build through the draft philosophy. Green Bay was rarely a big-time player in free agency. New GM Brian Gutekunst seems to be going in a different direction. He said Wednesday that Green Bay will be “really aggressive” in free agency this offseason. Hold on to your cheeseheads, Packers fans.

2. Gutekunst would like to get a contract extension done with Aaron Rodgers sooner rather than later.

3. The Packers could be in a position to move Ty Montgomery back to receiver in 2018, but Gutekunst didn’t tip his hand either way. Instead, he talked about the advantages of having a versatile player who can play multiple positions.

The skinny: Building through the draft is always the right strategy for creating a sustainable, long-term roster, but it seems Gutekunst will be more aggressive in free agency than his predecessor was in trying to fill in the holes the draft can’t always fill alone.

Quotable: "I don’t know if there’s pressure, I think we certainly would like to get it done sooner rather than later — not necessarily for those reasons,” Gutekunst said of the Rogers contract.

“But when you have the best player in the National Football League, it’s not going to be inexpensive, you know what I mean? Obviously, Aaron is a high priority, he’s a great player and I think that should take care of itself at some point."

CHICAGO

News items:

1. Bears GM Ryan Pace said the team will release quarterback Mike Glennon and linebacker Willie Young when the new league year begins in March. Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million contract last offseason. The team then drafted Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick, and subsequently handed him the keys to the franchise.

2. Pace said the team will remain “aggressive” in their contract talks with cornerback Kyle Fuller. Pace said the franchise tag is still in play for Fuller. They have until 4 p.m. March 6 to use that tag.

3. The biggest need this offseason for Chicago is at receiver, and Pace said the good thing for them is that it's an area that can be boosted rather quickly via free agency and the draft.

The skinny: Like Detroit, Chicago has a new head coach this season in Matt Nagy. Pace said that relationship between GM and head coach is vitally important to the overall health and success of the franchise, and so far it's been very positive with Nagy.

Quotable: “He’s extremely passionate about this,” Pace said of Nagy. “The collaboration is really natural for us. He’s highly intelligent, but he’s also very humble with that, which I think is a really attractive trait. Matt has a very creative, outside-the-box thought process, which is nice.”