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NFC NORTH: Offseason preview for each team

The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions. Now it's the job of the other 31 teams around the league to do enough this offseason to give themselves a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at next year's Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.

For the four teams in the NFC North, their work has been underway for weeks.

Here's an NFC North primer to kick off the offseason:


2019 record: 13-3 (lost NFC Championship game)

Key free agents: OT Bryan Bulaga, DB Tramon Williams, LB Blake Martinez, K Mason Crosby, OLB Kyler Fackrell

2020 strength of schedule: 15th, opponents had a .504 (128-126-2) winning percentage in 2019

Draft picks: 1st (30), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 6th, 7th, 7th

(Note: The list of picks for all teams does not include potential compensatory picks, which are awarded by the NFL in March to teams that lost more free agents than they signed the previous offseason.)

5 positions of need: WR, IDL, LB, TE, T

Estimated 2020 cap space to start free agency via $22 million

Twentyman: Green Bay was never really in the NFC Championship game against San Francisco, allowing 285 yards rushing to the 49ers and falling behind 27-0 at halftime. That was a humbling experience. It was a great year overall for the Packers and first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, however. They swept the NFC North and finished the year 14-4 including the playoffs. They won 13 games combined the previous two seasons.

Linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith enjoyed breakout seasons, as did running back Aaron Jones. The Packers have a nice core, and should be right back competing for another NFC North championship in 2020. They need to upgrade their receiving options for quarterback Aaron Rodgers this offseason, and will have to make key decisions on their left tackle (Bulaga) and leading tackler (Martinez) in free agency.


2019 record: 10-6 (lost in divisional round of playoffs)

Key free agents: CB Trae Waynes, S Anthony Harris, CB Mackensie Alexander, DE Everson Griffen (can void contract), S Andrew Sendejo, WR Laquon Treadwell

2020 strength of schedule: 10th, opponents had a .516 (131-123-2) winning percentage in 2019

Draft picks: 1st (25), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 7th

5 positions of need: CB, DT, OL, QB, S

Estimated 2020 cap space via minus-$12 million

Twentyman: It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do about their cap situation. Griffen, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and tackle Riley Reiff could all be cut candidates. They'll have to figure that out before they become players in free agency, or look to extend their young stars, mainly running back Dalvin Cook, who's entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Two of Minnesota's top three cornerbacks are free agents, and it seems like Rhodes could potentially be a cap casualty. Look for the Vikings to have a revamped secondary in 2020. Minnesota's defense still has a lot of good players in the front seven and at safety, and the core skill-position players on offense are all back in 2020. They're expected to be in the thick of things in the NFC North again next season.


2019 record: 8-8

Key free agents: LB Danny Trevathan, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, QB Chase Daniel, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis

2020 strength of schedule: 13th, opponents had a .508 (129-125-2) winning percentage in 2019

Draft picks: 2nd, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 7th, 7th

5 positions of need: G, CB, TE, S, WR

Estimated 2020 cap space via $13.3 million

Twentyman: The offense was the big storyline for Chicago in a disappointing 2019 season that began with Super Bowl aspirations after a 12-4 campaign in 2018. The offense laid an egg Week 1 vs. Green Bay and never really got going the way head coach Matt Nagy would have liked. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky didn't take the big leap forward most Bears fans hoped he would in year three, and they had problems upfront along their offensive line and with their running game all season.

This is a big offseason for GM Ryan Pace to pull the right strings. Wide receiver Allen Robinson, 26, is entering the final year of his contract in 2020. He's Chicago's best receiver and a good candidate to get an extension this offseason. The Bears still have a really good defense, so they need to focus on improving the offense in 2020.


2019 record: 3-12-1

Key free agents: G Graham Glasgow, DT A’Shawn Robinson, DT Mike Daniels, WR Danny Amendola, S Tavon Wilson, P Sam Martin, QB Jeff Driskel

2020 strength of schedule: T5th, opponents had a .525 (134-121-1) winning percentage in 2019

Draft picks: 1st (3), 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th

5 positions of need: DL, CB, OL, WR, LB

Estimated 2020 cap space via $45.7 million

Twentyman: The Lions signed defensive end Trey Flowers last offseason, but finding players that can generate more pressure alongside Flowers remains a priority this offseason. Detroit didn't rush the passer good enough as a unit, they didn't generate enough turnovers, and as a result, ranked near the bottom of the league in every major statistical category on defense. They simply need more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively, the Lions learned the value of the backup quarterback position this past season, going 0-8 without starter Matthew Stafford. Owner Martha Firestone Ford expects to see significant improvements from the football operations and wants to watch meaningful games in December. It's an important offseason for GM Bob Quinn to push the right buttons to help make that a reality.

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