Free Agency Recap — NFC North: Bears, Lions Lead the Charge
Over the next week, we’re going to discuss the early returns for each NFL team in the free agency period. But first, a couple of notes about the structure and theme of the free agency recap:
- We’ll do this four teams at a time, grouped by division
- These are early returns on the action that we saw between the start of the legal tampering period on March 13 and the end of the day on March 23.
- There will be no arbitrary “grades” assigned.
- If your favorite team didn’t get the love you expected, just know that I’m not sorry.
- Let’s have some fun and talk some football.
Chicago Bears Free Agency Recap
The Chicago Bears entered the free agency period with the most cap space in the NFL and quickly went to work.
- WR DJ Moore (trade)
- LB Tremaine Edmunds (4 years, $72M)
- G Nate Davis (3 years, $30M)
- LB T.J. Edwards (3 years, $19.5M)
- DE DeMarcus Walker (2 years, $7M)
- RB Travis Homer (2 years, $4.5M)
- QB PJ Walker (2 years, $4.1M)
- DT Andrew Billings (1 year, $3.5M)
- TE Robert Tonyan (1 year, $2.6M)
- RB D’Onta Foreman (1 year,$3M)
The Bears were the clear-cut winners of the division in the first wave of free agency, right? Remaking the linebacking core, reshaping the backfield, and adding some help in the trenches was an excellent next step for Ryan Poles.
Oh, and who can forget the Bears landed DJ Moore and a haul of draft picks by trading the No. 1 pick to Carolina. They also added Robert Tonyan to the tight end group and landed Justin Fields a solid backup QB in PJ Walker.
All told it was a successful couple of weeks for Ryan Poles. Of course, the draft will be just as crucial, but this is a very nice next step in the rebuild.
Detroit Lions Free Agency Recap
Detroit came up just short of the playoffs last season. However, they’ve done a solid job of getting closer in 2023.
- DL Isaiah Buggs (2 years, $4.5M)
- CB Cam Sutton (3 years, $33M)
- LB Alex Anzalone (3 years, $18.8M)
- RB David Montgomery (3 years, $18M)
- CB Emmanuel Moseley (1 year, $6M)
- DB Will Harris (1 year, $2.5M)
- DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson (1 year, $8M)
If there was one glaring weakness in Detroit, it was their secondary. Enter Cam Sutton, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Emmanuel Moseley.
The Lions invested heavily in their secondary this offseason, pairing Sutton, Gardner-Johnson, and Moseley with Jeff Okudah, Will Harris, Tracy Walker, and Kirby Joseph. So now the Lions have a deep and flexible secondary.
They also added former Bears running back David Montgomery to the backfield. Detroit is looking good heading into 2023, and they still have four picks within the first two rounds of next month’s NFL Draft.
Green Bay Packers Free Agency Recap
Green Bay missed the playoffs in 2022, and they’ve done nothing to make the team better next season.
- CB Keisean Nixon (1 year, $6M)
- S Rudy Ford (1 year, $2.5M)
What a time it is to be a Bears fan. Heck, a fan of anyone other than the Packers in the NFC North.
Green Bay missed the playoffs last season, they’ve done nothing to get better, and they’re on the verge of losing Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. Say what you will about Rodgers — I’ve got plenty — he’s much better than Jordan Love. If Rodgers is traded to the Jets, that’s an immediate downgrade at the most critical position.
Call me a hater. I don’t care. I love it.
Minnesota Vikings Free Agency Recap
The Minnesota Vikings have had a weirdly uneventful offseason thus far.
- CB Byron Murphy (2 years, $22M)
- TE Josh Oliver (3 years, $21M)
- C Garrett Bradbury (3 years, $15.7M)
- QB Nick Mullens (2 years, $4M)
Minnesota won the NFC North in 2022 but was eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card round with a loss to the Giants.
The Vikings’ defense was to blame. They’re the glaring weak spot on the roster, yet Minnesota has hardly addressed that weakness. The Vikings replaced Patrick Peterson with Byron Murphy on a two-year, $22 million deal. But that’s about it.
They also spent $21 million on tight end Josh Oliver, a blocking tight end, after they traded for T.J. Hockenson last season. I’m not really sure what the Vikings are doing.
Detroit is the betting favorite and the logical football person favorite to win the NFC North in 2023. The Lions were a tie-breaker short of a playoff berth a couple of months ago, and they’ve gotten better and deeper since. They’ve also got the NFL Draft next month and should be able to add another pair of starters with the No. 6 and No. 18 picks at their disposal.
But this isn’t about who is better primed for the 2023 season. This is about who performed the best in the first wave of free agency. While the Lions did very well, the Bears were the big winners in the NFC North.
Damn, that feels good to type!