Aaron Rodgers brought in his second straight MVP award in 2021 and the Green Bay Packers won the NFC North with a 13-4 record. They were the lone team from the division to make the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings finished 8-9, the Chicago Bears finished 6-11 and the Detroit Lions finished 3-13-1. It was a back-and-forth season for the teams, but there is optimism for all of them for the future, granted some teams have more short-term hope vs. long-term hope.
Free agency will produce considerably player movement as always, some teams will look largely the same. The published divisional odds from DraftKings Sportsbook provide a deeper look into the perceived hierarchy of each division and how much upside certain teams have within them.
The Packers' biggest concern is the future of Aaron Rodgers. Their biggest concern in free agency will be trying to keep Davante Adams in the fold. The rumor is that they are willing to throw everything at Rodgers to keep him around Green Bay to end his career, but he is still under contract with the team for the upcoming season. They have Jordan Love waiting in the wings, but from the sparse game action we have seen from him, you can see why they are trying so hard to keep Rodgers around.
If the team does not get a deal done with Adams, they will almost assuredly use their franchise tag on the star receiver. Even with that handled, they still need more pass-catchers. Outside of figuring that out, they are going to have holes to fill on the offensive line and on defense at linebacker and in the secondary.
There are still rumors that quarterback Kirk Cousins may be in a new home next season, but they are going to see some big pieces on defense hit free agency this year. Long-time Viking Anthony Barr is a free agent as is recent Viking, Patrick Peterson. Bigger than both of those could be safety Xavier Woods hitting the market.
Other than those main positions on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings will be looking to fill in some depth. They currently draft with the No. 12 spot in the 2022 NFL Draft which will be their best draft pick since 2015. Whether it be through free agency or the draft, the Vikings may want some insurance at quarterback but they are definitely in the market for an outside rusher.
The Bears have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields and they have a new head coach in Matt Eberflus. The latter will look to bring his defensive prowess to bolster the Bears' defense back up to what it once was when they would compete in the division. Chicago also needs to make an attempt to improve their offensive line as RG James Daniels hits free agency among other depth linemen.
The most interesting free agent for the Bears is wide receiver, Allen Robinson. He is a talented pass-catcher, but for some reason, he can never get consistent results and involvement from the Bears offense. It could be a him problem, but the Bears will look to add another wide receiver to help take some pressure off incumbent leading receiver Darnell Mooney. Unfortunately for the Bears, they don’t have their first-round pick this season so they need to look to the free agency for help.
The Lions were better in 2021 than their record suggests. Jared Goff did a decent job at showing that he still has some value in the league, even if it isn’t as a starter in the future. Head coach Dan Campbell obviously wanted better results for his team, but the mentality that he is working to instill in the team will see them achieving better results sooner than later.
Whether through free agency or the draft, the Lions need to bolster their linebacking corps as well as their edge rushers. Their offense has good pieces, so they need to make more depth moves on that side of the ball. They have promise in their youth so if they could bring in a solid quarterback and a veteran wide receiver, they could be fine on that side of the ball in 2022. Their focus needs to be on the defense.
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