The Green Bay Packers remain the best team in the NFC North.
Some big moves have been made across the NFC North over the past couple of weeks. How does each team stand in the divisional power rankings following the first wave of free agency?
We’ll take a look at each team’s most notable signings and losses since free agency began, and how this impacts their chances of winning the division in 2020.
For now, the Packers remain in first place.
1. Green Bay Packers
The defending division champions and NFC runners-up are still top of the rankings.
That said, for now it’s fair to say they’ve taken a slight step back. The Packers exceeded expectations last season by winning 13 games and reaching the NFC Championship Game but it was clear they still needed plenty of work to take the next step.
The current problem for Green Bay is that many of the biggest needs entering the offseason are still a concern. GM Brian Gutekunst hasn’t yet done enough to upgrade the offense or fix the run defense, but there’s still plenty of time to do that.
Overall, the Packers still have a strong roster and, with a few smart additions can push on as NFC challengers in 2020.
2. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings fell short of the NFC North title in 2019 but still made it as far as the divisional round of the playoffs.
However, following the first wave of free agency, it’s fair to say Minnesota has also taken a step back. The Vikings traded away star wide receiver Stefon Diggs and have lost Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen.
The good news for the Vikings is they signed talented defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and also enter next month’s draft with 12 picks including two in the first round.
If the Vikings use that draft capital wisely and can add a couple of pieces in free agency, they’ll be able to build on last season’s performance. But, for now, it’s not been a good start to the new league year.
3. Chicago Bears
The Bears have made some head-scratching decisions. It starts with the decision to take on Nick Foles’ four-year, $88 million contract in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Foles is a clear upgrade on Mitch Trubisky, but is he going to be the difference that takes the Bears to a championship? Let’s not forget he was benched by the Jaguars towards the end of last season and then put on the trade block.
Signing Robert Quinn strengthens the pass rush, and a tandem of Quinn and Khalil Mack will create problems for offensive lines in the NFC North.
But the Bears now have very little remaining cap space and no first-round pick. After the first wave of free agency, there are more questions than answers.
4. Detroit Lions
The Lions have been active in free agency, particularly addressing a defense that ranked No. 31 overall and was worst in the league against the pass.
While adding Danny Shelton, Jamie Collins, Desmond Trufant and Duron Harmon are all solid moves, it’s overshadowed by trading away their best defensive player Darius Slay. For a team that couldn’t stop the pass last season, moving on from their All-Pro cornerback makes little sense.
Over on offense, the Lions signed tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year deal worth $45 million after moving on from Rick Wagner. This is another risky move considering Vaitai only started four games for the Philadelphia Eagles over the past two seasons.
The Lions made some solid additions but they are still a long way off in the NFC North.