The 2022 NFL offseason has been rampant with headlining moves, from big-name quarterback and wide receiver trades to splashy free-agent signings (we're looking at you, Jaguars). Some divisions, meanwhile, have been particularly active, like the AFC West seemingly stocking up in preparation for a playoff race for the ages. What about the NFC North, though, from which the offseason's first big drama -- Aaron Rodgers' future -- emerged? Which teams in the North have fared well in free agency, and which ones have lots more work to do this offseason?
Here's how we'd grade each of the four teams' performances thus far:
Chicago Bears: D+
- Key additions: WR Byron Pringle (Chiefs), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Packers), OG Lucas Patrick (Packers), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Colts), DT Justin Jones (Chargers)
- Key losses: WR Allen Robinson (Rams), WR Jakeem Grant (Browns), OG James Daniels (Steelers), DT Bilal Nichols (Raiders), OLB Khalil Mack (Chargers)
Sorry, Bears fans, but if you thought the first step of the new regime would be to improve the team in free agency, well, you thought wrong. Pringle certainly brings speed to the WR room, but they could've used an alpha out wide for Justin Fields, not to mention a more proven starter in the trenches. The better investments are on the other side of the ball, where Muhammad and Jones should help the front seven. Mack's departure, by the way, was understandable, especially considering his contract. It's just that they still have lots of holes to fill and only one draft to do it before Fields kicks off an anticipated year two.
Detroit Lions: C+
- Key additions: WR D.J. Chark (Jaguars), CB Mike Hughes (Chiefs)
- Key re-signings: WR Josh Reynolds, OLB Charles Harris, S Tracy Walker
- Key losses: OLB Trey Flowers, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Texans)
Nothing crazy here, one way or another. They didn't make a huge splash on either side of the ball, but Chark is an underrated one-year flyer to pair with Reynolds and Amon-Ra St. Brown, giving Jared Goff -- or whomever they may draft at QB -- some solid downfield targets. Hughes and Walker, meanwhile, bring some upside to a still-rebuilding secondary. All in all, you can be content with this performance as a Lions fan, chiefly because the draft awaits and, unlike the Bears, Detroit is well positioned to add premium talent early and often. Let's see if they can find a long-term answer under center.
Green Bay Packers: D+
- Key additions: DT Jarran Reed (Chiefs)
- Key re-signings: WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, LB De'Vondre Campbell, CB Rasul Douglas
- Key losses: WR Davante Adams (Raiders), WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Chiefs), OT Billy Turner, OG Lucas Patrick (Bears), OLB Za'Darius Smith (Vikings)
They get some credit for ensuring Aaron Rodgers stayed put under center, but that feels like a distant memory now, considering all that's transpired since, namely the abrupt departure of Rodgers' longtime favorite target in Adams. Was Green Bay right to sell Adams before committing record money to a veteran receiver a la the Chiefs with Tyreek Hill? Maybe in the long run, but wasn't the point of recommitting to A-Rod going for it right now? The other moves aren't particularly inspiring, either; Campbell and Douglas, for instance, were solid play-makers in 2021, but did they deserve a combined $70 million? Green Bay will contend as long as Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are in town, but they got worse in an offseason where lots of teams made major splashes.
Minnesota Vikings: C+
- Key additions: DT Harrison Phillips (Bills), ILB Jordan Hicks (Cardinals), OLB Za'Darius Smith (Packers)
- Key losses: TE Tyler Conklin (Jets), C Mason Cole (Steelers), S Xavier Woods (Panthers)
It's hard to get a good read on the Vikings, who were going to be tight on cash anyway. By recommitting to QB Kirk Cousins and retaining WR Adam Thielen, the new regime has probably secured Minnesota another wild-card run, but you could argue a deeper rebuild was the better play. The defense, however, is poised to improve, with Hicks bringing stability and leadership to the middle of the unit alongside Eric Kendricks, and Smith giving the club a boom-or-bust edge rusher opposite a healthier Danielle Hunter. Depending on how they resolve pending splits with other veterans like Anthony Barr, Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, they should remain in the middle tier of NFL teams.