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Grading the Lions and the NFC North in Free Agency

Playoff Bound Vikings?

Chicago Bears

Unsigned players: S Josh Bullocks (UFA), QB Todd Collins (UFA), OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa (UFA), MLB Rod Wilson (UFA), RB Garrett Wolfe (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Seahawks UFA C Chris Spencer, July 31 (two years); Ex-Texans DT Amobi Okoye, July 30 (one year); Ex-Cowboys RB Marion Barber, July 30; Ex-Jet DL Vernon Gholston, July 29; Ex-Cowboys WR Roy Williams, July 29; Ex-Cowboys UFA WR Sam Hurd, July 29; Ex-Steelers UFA TE Matt Spaeth, July 29; Ex-Jaguars UFA P Adam Podlesh, July 29 (five years).

Key departures: UFA C Olin Kreutz, Aug. 5 (to Saints); Waived OG Herman Johnson, July 30; UFA WR Rashied Davis, July 30 (to Lions); UFA WR Devin Aromashodu, July 29 (to Vikings). Traded TE Greg Olsen to Panthers, July 28 (traded for third-round 2012 pick); UFA S Danieal Manning (to Texans); Waived P Brad Maynard, July 28, (to Texans).

Key re-signings: UFA TE Desmond Clark, Aug. 2 (one year); UFA LB Brian Iwuh, July 31; UFA CB Corey Graham, July 30; RFA QB Caleb Hanie, July 29 (one year); UFA OLB Nick Roach, July 29 (two years); UFA DT Anthony Adams, July 29.

Grade: B

Comment: The loss of Olin Kreutz was overemphasized. Garza/Spencer are both viable options at center. What should be emphasized more was the Bears inability to pick-up another tackle in free agency. Rookie Gabe Carimi will man the right side, which is fine, he’s NFL-ready. As for J’Marcus Webb, last year’s seventh-round pick, he will protect Jay Cutler’s blind side – good luck with that. The team swung and missed there. Or did they strikeout looking? Either way, the left tackle spot remains a big question mark. The trade of Greg Olsen was a good move. He wasn’t going to be featured in Mike Martz’s offense and is a glorified receiver with plus size, limited speed. A third-round pick for Olsen is a quite a catch. Matt Speath is the type of blocking tight end Martz was looking targeting. Danieal Manning will be missed; in the secondary and on special teams. This one stings. Taking chances on Vernon Gholston and Amobi Okoye were brilliant ideas. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the guy you want to turn around defensive linemen. Lastly, both former Cowboys Roy Williams and Marion Barber were outstanding additions, to an offense which was lacking a jump ball option in the red zone and a bruising short-yardage runner.

Minnesota Vikings

Unsigned players: WR Hank Baskett (UFA), QB Brett Favre (UFA-retired), OLB Chad Greenway (FFA), OLB Ben Leber (UFA), WR Greg Lewis (UFA), QB Patrick Ramsey (UFA), CB Lito Sheppard (UFA), FB Naufahu Tahi (UFA), DT Pat Williams (UFA), RB Albert Young (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Colts UFA OT Charlie Johnson, Aug. 1; Ex-Falcons WR Michael Jenkins, July 30 (three years); Ex-Bears UFA WR Devin Aromashodu, July 29 (one year).

Key departures: UFA OLB Ben Leber, Aug. 9 (to Rams); Cut OLT Bryant McKinnie, Aug. 2; UFA S Madieu Williams, Aug. 1 (to 49ers); UFA DE Ray Edwards, July 29 (to Falcons); UFA WR Sidney Rice, July 29 (to Seahawks); UFA QB Tarvaris Jackson, July 29 (to Seahawks); Cut DT Jimmy Kennedy, July 28.

Key re-signings: UFA OT Ryan Cook, Aug. 3; UFA DT Fred Evans, July 31; UFA S Eric Frampton, July 31; RFA OLB Erin Henderson, July 30 (one year); RFA S Husain Abdullah, July 30 (one year); UFA PK Ryan Longwell, July 29.

Grade: C+

Comment: From Tarvaris to Donovan; a colossal jump in the right direction. An abundance of dead weight (McKinnie – 386 pounds), both literally and figuratively, was relieved from the club. Would have been nice to replace Sidney Rice with someone more dynamic and explosive than Michael Jenkins, and more experienced and reliable than Devin Aromashodu. The losses of inconsistent Ray Edwards and underachieving Madieu Williams don’t hurt much. Charlie Johnson is a serviceable offensive tackle. Overall, it’s all on McNabb if this free agency is a success. None of the departures compare if Donovan thrives in the Twin Cities.

Detroit Lions

Unsigned players: S C.C. Brown (UFA), MLB Vinny Ciurciu (UFA), WR Brian Clark (UFA), DE Jared DeVries (UFA), CB Tye Hill (UFA), OLB Landon Johnson (UFA), TE Jake Nordin (UFA), RB Kevin Smith (UFA).

Key arrivals: Ex-Bengals OT Kirk Chambers, Aug. 11; Ex-Eagles RB Jerome Harrison, Aug. 9; Ex-Browns RB Mike Bell, Aug. 9; Ex-Jaguars WR Nate Hughes, Aug. 4; Ex-Buccaneers WR Maurice Stovall, Aug. 2; Ex-Titans UFA LB Stephen Tulloch, July 31 (1 year, $3.25 million, $1.8 million guaranteed); Ex-Lions CB Eric Wright, July 30 (one year); Ex-Bears UFA WR Rashied Davis, July 29; Ex-Jaguars UFA OLB Justin Durant, July 29 (two years), Ex-Chiefs CB Maurice Leggett, July 28.

Key departures: Cut LB Zack Follett, Aug. 3; UFA DE Turk McBride, Aug. 1 (to Saints); Cut UFA LB Jordon Dizon, July 28; Cut UFA WR Bryant Johnson, July 28.

Key re-signings: RFA DE Cliff Avril, Aug. 4 (one year, $2.7 million); UFA OLB Bobby Carpenter, Aug. 3; UFA CB Chris Houston, July 31 (two years); UFA CB Brandon McDonald, July 30 (one year); UFA C Dylan Gandy, July 29; UFA PK Dave Rayner, July 29; UFA QB Drew Stanton, July 29 (one year); UFA S John Wendling (three years, $2.75 million), July 29; RFA FB Jerome Felton, July 29; RFA DT Andre Fluellen, July 29.

Grade: C

Comment: A very lackluster free agency period in the Motor City. Two linebackers (Durant, Tulloch) were added and two running backs (Bell, Harrison) were signed to offset the season-ending injury of second-round pick Mikel LeShoure. I like the ambition to improve a weak spot (linebacker) and the Eric Wright acquisition will help a subpar secondary. However, would have liked to see the Lions snag someone better than Wright, like Texans’ Johnathan Joseph.

Green Bay Packers

Unsigned players: CB Josh Bell (UFA), S Atari Bigby (UFA), S Anthony Smith (UFA), LB Matt Wilhelm (UFA).

Key arrivals: None.

Key departures: UFA DE Cullen Jenkins, July 30 (to Eagles); UFA FB Korey Hall, July 29 (to Saints); Cut OT Mark Tauscher, July 29; Cut LB Brandon Chillar, July 29; UFA OG Daryn Colledge, July 29 (to Cardinals); Cut LB Nick Barnett, July 28; UFA RB Brandon Jackson, July 29 (to Browns); UFA OL Jason Spitz, July 29 (to Jaguars).

Key re-signings: UFA WR James Jones, July 31 (three years); UFA FB John Kuhn, July 31 (three years); UFA PK Mason Crosby, July 29 (five years, up to $14.75 million).

Grade: C

Comment: James Jones was a good re-signing. He has the chance to become something special and is a game-changer next to Greg Jennings. Donald Driver is getting up there in age and wasn’t healthy last season. Losing Cullen Jenkins hurts because he’s such a dominant lineman when healthy. Jenkins going to Philly hurts even more, a team they could face again in the Playoffs this season. His replacement, Mike Neal, is a promising second-rounder (Purdue) from last year. Departures of Barnett and Jackson warrant little talk because Desmond Bishop and James Starks are young, flourishing players. The left guard spot left by Colledge is one to keep an eye on. In the end, it was neither a standout or destructive free agency for the Super Bowl champs.

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One Response to “Grading the Lions and the NFC North in Free Agency”

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