Packers: Grading free agency moves made by NFC North rivals

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 24: Allen Robinson /

An early look at the free agency moves made by each of the Green Bay Packers’ NFC North rivals.

Even before the official start of free agency on March 14, it was clear that big moves were going to be made in the NFC North.

The Minnesota Vikings were moving on from the trio of quarterbacks on the roster at the end of the NFC Championship Game. The Chicago Bears were busy re-signing some of their own free agents and focused on upgrading their receivers. For their part, the Green Bay Packers made early overtures toward Muhammad Wilkerson.

Now with free agency “officially” underway, and a plethora of deals already announced, let’s examine where the Packers’ NFC North foes stand.

Detroit Lions: Somewhat surprisingly, there has been little activity into or out of the Motor City. The Lions have a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford and enough talent to be either just into or just out of the playoff picture any given year. One surprise was the release of TE Eric Ebron, who was beginning to show promise. Perhaps first year HC Matt Patricia will breathe life into the title-starved team. Early grade: Incomplete

Chicago Bears: The Bears were tactical in signing a few of their own players to new deals prior to the start of the free agency mayhem. They also made a big splash in signing Allen Robinson to solidify the wide receiver room.

But barely anyone mentioned TE Trey Burton, the sleeper of all sleeper free agents. With the devastating leg injury to Zach Miller in 2017, the Bears were desperate to find another weapon at tight end. Enter Burton, who threw the infamous Super Bowl touchdown pass to Nick Foles. Burton flashed in a crowded Eagles offense, and will allow Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears to stretch the middle of the field. Speedy WR Taylor Gabriel is also on his way to Halas Hall. Early grade: A-

Minnesota Vikings: Early Grade: A+ or F. One can’t help but hear a few verses of The Gambler begin to play softly in the background… the Vikings placed all of their chips on the thought that Kirk Cousins is the quarterback good enough to do what no other quarterback in a Vikings uniform has ever done: hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Trevor Siemian has been acquired via trade with the Broncos to serve as the backup.

No doubt, there’s already an excellent defense and a very capable offense in place. But bidding adieu to 2017 wonder boy journeyman Case Keenum, 2016 savior Sam Bradford, and former golden child Teddy Bridgewater in favor of Cousins is a bold move.

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A lot of work remains in shoring up the running back position. Latavius Murray may need to take a pay cut and rookie sensation Dalvin Cook is still recovering from an ACL tear. Adrian Peterson is still available. Early grade: A+ or F