NFC North Free Agency Grades

Chicago Bears

Grade: C

The Bears had an opportunity to drastically improve their team in free agency, and in a way they did. They brought several Dallas Cowboys; Roy Williams, Sam Hurd, and Marion Barber. Williams and Hurd are additions that should help the passing game. Hurd is a capable receiver and Williams is a big target for Cutler to throw to. Barber is a question mark as he may or may not have anything left in the tank but, if he is healthy can be a good goal line and 3rd down back.

The Bears didn’t re-sign Olin Kruetz, their long time center and anchor to the offensive line. It’s not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. Don’t get me wrong. Kruetz is a great center and is more than capable of playing the position still but, the Bears wanted to move forward. Roberto Garza who played guard will take on the duties as center. Garza has been a Bear since 2005, he has experience in the system, and players in the  locker room trust him. The Bears will be fine at center.

The real head-scratcher was the trade with the Carolina Panthers. The trade sent Greg Olsen to Carolina for a third round pick in the 2012 draft. The Bears wanted to give Jay Cutler more weapons offensively and then took away his favorite one. Last season Olsen caught 41 passes for 404 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. He was most certainly an important part of the offense. To replace him the Bears signed Matt Spaeth, most likely to be an extra lineman to protect Cutler.

The Bears free agency appears to have them moving 2 steps forward and then 2 steps back. It wasn’t bad but they don’t look a whole lot better than when they started. How good their free agency was involves far too many hypotheticals.

Detroit Lions

Grade: B

I was surprised to find out how well the Lions were able to address their needs. Specifically that of the linebacker corps. They went out and signed high quality guys like Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant. What this does for the Lions is it gives them the ability to stop the run. This is very important since they’re in the same division as Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. They also re-signed outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter.

Rashied Davis isn’t going to make the receiving corps world beaters however he is quick and can provide competition at the wide receiver postion. He should be able to take advantage of open space provided by Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson.

The Lions had a particularly strong draft this year so that meant that they had less to take care of in free agency. They identified their major needs and filled them with quality players.

Green Bay Packers

Grade: A

How do you improve on a team that won the Superbowl? Well for starters, you try and bring back the guys that got you there. The Packers re-signed John Kuhn, James Jones, and Mason Crosby. It may not have been the best decision to bring back Jones who dropped a lot of passes last season, however if he can fix that he has the speed and size to be another top flight receiver for Aaron Rodgers to throw to.

The Packers outside of those re-signings didn’t seem all that affected by free agency. They had sort of free agency of their very own. If you recall the Packers made it to the Superbowl with a number of players on injured reserve. For Green Bay, improving the team was as simple as those guys getting healthy again. Players that were on IR for the Packers last season include tight end Jermichael Finley, running back Ryan Grant, and outside linebacker Brad Jones.

The Pack get an A because they did what they had to do, which to be quite frank wasn’t very much at all.

Minnesota Vikings

Grade: C

The Vikings, very much like the Bears, took steps in both the right and wrong direction. The wrong steps they took were not necessarily their fault. They get Donovan McNabb in a trade for a fifth round pick from the Redskins. Good. Bryant McKinnie shows up to camp massively overweight. Mckinnie was 400 pounds, which is 65 pounds over last season’s playing weight. Bad.

Minnesota re-signs Cedric McKinley and E.J. Henderson to necessary pieces to their defense. Good. However they lose out on Sidney Rice to Seattle and are left with gaping hole at the wide receiver position. Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo don’t exactly have the best four hands between the two of them.

The Vikings attempted to fill the holes that they had through free agency however, it seems that they sustained as many losses as gains.


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