Skip to main content

NFC NORTH: Offseason primer

Let's check in on the headlines around the NFC North.


Headline: How do the Vikings take the 'next step' in 2016?

Twentyman: My surprise team in the NFC before the season began, Minnesota, lived up to the hype by winning the NFC North over Green Bay. They were eliminated in the playoffs in devastating fashion when Blair Walsh missed a 26-yard field goal at the end of their 10-9 loss to Seattle in one of the coldest games in NFL history.

The Vikings need to address an offensive line that allowed 45 sacks last season and was probably the weakest unit on the roster overall. The team has already changed offensive line coaches in an attempt to retool upfront. Expect the Vikings to seriously upgrade that unit via free agency and the draft. It's their biggest need and really only true weakness.

Receiver could also be a need, especially if Mike Wallace ($11.5 million) is a cap casualty.


Headline: Will the Packers be spenders this offseason?

Twentyman: The organization has around $138 million tied into the 2016 salary cap, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which will leave them around $20 million to work after $7 million in unused cap from 2015 carries over.

Packers GM Ted Thompson isn't typically a big spender in free agency. He builds through the draft and takes care of his own. He signed Mike Daniels to a four-year, $41 million contract during the season.

The Packers have won four of the last five division titles and have made the playoffs in seven straight seasons, but have just one Super Bowl win over that span. How many more years will quarterback Aaron Rodgers be in his prime?

Thompson will also have to consider that the contracts of running back Eddie Lacy, starting offensive linemen Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and David Bakhtiari and some other key performers are expiring after next season.


Headline: What will Calvin Johnson be doing in seven months?

Twentyman: Catching footballs for the Detroit Lions doesn't appear to be in those plans.

The all-time leading receiver in franchise history appears set to call it a career because of a bruised and broken body.

So what's next for the Lions?

Receiver jumps up the board in terms of team needs, right there with defensive tackle, offensive tackle and linebacker. Expect the Lions to add a couple receivers via free agency and the draft.

Golden Tate said at the Super Bowl he's ready to be the No. 1 guy in Detroit. He might have to be. Theo Riddick (80 receptions) proved he could be a threat in the short passing game. More will also be expected of third-year tight end Eric Ebron – a lot more.

Johnson's retirement will save the Lions $11 million, and they could have up to $40 million when it's all said and done, so they'll have money and draft picks to build in other areas to help stem the loss of Megatron.


Headline: Is Matt Forte done in Chicago?

Twentyman: It's looking more and more like that's the case.

One of the best multi-purpose backs in the NFL over the last five years saw his numbers decline last year to 898 rushing yards and four touchdowns with 44 receptions for 389 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

"I mean, I want to return," Forte told ESPNChicago on Dec. 23. "But if you're saying, am I hopeful that I do return? There is not much to hope for that right now because like I said, I talked to (the Bears' front office) earlier and they haven't said anything back. So there's nothing really to hope for."

Jeremy Langford is set to take a bigger role in the offense and Forte might find greener pastures on the free-agent market.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content