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NFC NORTH: Free agency roundup

Free agency is more than a week old now, and the four teams in the NFC North are still looking for pieces that can help their football teams.

Over the past week, the Packers did what they do, which is signing their own free agents. The Bears made a big push to help their defense.

The Lions re-signed two key defensive tackles and filled a big void at receiver with the signing of Marvin Jones.

The Vikings addressed needs along their offensive line and improved their depth on an already good defense.

Here's a free agency recap so far for the four teams in the NFC North:


2015 record: 11-5 (won division)


Alex Boone (Photo: AP)

Key free-agent signings: RT Andre Smith; G Alex Boone; S Michael Griffin; LB Emmanuel Lamur; LB Travis Lewis; S Andrew Sendejo; G/T Mike Harris; CB Marcus Sherels; RB Matt Asiata

Big free-agent losses: WR Mike Wallace (Ravens)

Best acquisition: Boone steps in and takes over the left guard spot and is an immediate upgrade for the Vikings in the middle of their offensive line.

"I felt like I was born to be in this division," Boone told the Associated Press after signing in Minnesota. "Now I'm excited to be in it."

Twentyman's take: The Vikings had to address their offensive line issues, which is why Boone was a good signing in the middle. He brings some immediate toughness to the unit. Smith is also an upgrade at right tackle. Suddenly, the Vikings are better upfront on offense.

They should also possess one of the deeper linebacking corps in the NFL after the signings of Lamur and Lewis. Both players will also make an already good special teams unit in Minnesota even better.


2015 record: 10-6

Key free-agent signings: DT Mike Daniels; DT Letroy Guion; K Mason Crosby; G Lane Taylor; OLB Nick Perry

Big free-agent losses: CB Casey Hayward (Chargers); DT B.J. Raji (retirement); QB Scott Tolzien (Colts)

Best acquisition: Mike Daniels, 26, was given a four-year extension at the end of last season. He racked up 49 tackles, 4.0 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in 2015.

Twentyman's take: GM Ted Thompson has proven time and time again that he'd rather take his chances with his own players than overpay for players from other teams. The Packers haven't signed a single unrestricted free agent from another team or even been linked with a visit.

Thompson said at the Combine last month he isn't going to "chase ghosts" because he thought the clock was ticking on Green Bay's Super Bowl chances. He's certainly backed up that statement with his actions so far in the free-agency period.


2015 record: 7-9

Key free-agent signings: WR Marvin Jones; DT Haloti Ngata; DT Tyrunn Walker; LB Tahir Whitehead; S Rafael Bush; S Tavon Wilson; DT Stefan Charles; CB Johnson Bademosi; TE Tim Wright; LS Don Muhlbach

Big free-agent losses: S Isa Abdul-Quddus (Dolphins)

Best acquisition: Jones adds a lot of versatility to the Lions offense. He can make plays down the field with his size and speed, but he's also broken or eluded 27 tackles the last two seasons. He can do a lot of different things in Jim Bob Cooter's offense.

"I'm here to be me," Jones said after signing in Detroit. "I'm here to do what I can do to help this team win and succeed."

Twentyman's take: The Lions addressed two big needs at receiver and defensive tackle. The offensive line, particularly the tackle and center positions, are still in need of an upgrade.

Bush has great speed and looks like he could be a good fit next to Glover Quin at safety, but he's got to stay healthy.


2015 record: 6-10

Key free-agent signings: WR Alshon Jeffery (franchise tag); DL Akiem Hicks; LB Danny Trevatha; RT Bobby Massie; LB Jerrell Freeman; CB Tracy Porter; CB Sherrick McManis; TE Zach Miller; WR Marc Mariani

Big free-agent losses: RB Matt Forte (Jets); TE Martellus Bennett (Patriots); LB Shea McClellin (Patriots); DE Jarvis Jenkins (Jets)

Best acquisition: Trevathan and Freeman are going to make a difference in the middle of the Bears defense. Chicago also needed to find a long-term solution at right tackle, and Massie offers them that. It allows Pro Bowler Kyle Long to move back to his more natural position at guard and immediately strengthens the right side of the Bears offensive line.

Twentyman's take: The Bears defense got a whole lot better via free agency. Trevathan finished fifth last season among inside linebackers in both run-stop percentage and tackling efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus, while Freeman's run-defense grade was No. 1 overall among inside linebackers. Hicks finished seventh in pass-rush productivity and recorded three sacks as a rotational player in 13 games with the Patriots.

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