Free Agency Moves – NFC North

Don’t look now, but the Detroit Lions are favored to win the NFC North! The feat, if accomplished, would be historic because it would represent Motown’s first-ever NFC North title since the NFL formed the division in 2002.

At the same time, the oddsmakers appear to be deliberately snubbing the Minnesota Vikings, who are the defending champions but tipped as the next-best bet after the Lions on the NFL betting board. That’s not all, though. The oddsmakers are being surprisingly generous toward the Chicago Bears, who barely struck an audible chord in 2022 but are set as the third overall favorite club in this division.

And if that’s not enough, the Green Bay Packers are left propping up the division, presumably drifting into betting online obscurity while they work on a trade with the New York Jets that will jettison future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the Big Apple.

NFL Odds – To Win NFC North

  • Detroit Lions +150
  • Minnesota Vikings +275
  • Chicago Bears +300
  • Green Bay Packers +450

1. Lions +150

  • Key acquisitions: S C.J. Gardner-Johnson (Eagles), RB David Montgomery (Bears), CB Emmanuel Moseley (49ers), CB Cameron Sutton (Steelers), G Graham Glasgow (Broncos)
  • Key re-signings: DL Isaiah Buggs, LB Alex Anzalone, DL John Cominsky, CB C.J. Moore, RB Craig Reynolds, S Will Harris
  • Key losses: RB Jamaal Williams, WR DJ. Chark

It’s year three of the Dan Campbell era in Detroit and if the NFL odds are any indication, it’s going to be historic as the Lions are the team to beat in the NFC North.

NFL fans aren’t used to seeing the Lions tipped to win a game, never mind a division. That’s how bad it’s been in Motown for a very long time – until last season, that is, when Campbell’s lot flipped the script and won eight of their last 10 games to finish with a noteworthy 9-8-0 record.

The first couple of months were a tough slog, though. If there was one area of concern last season, it was the defense. And fixing it has been the priority this offseason with a major overhaul of the secondary already underway. Most notably, scooping up Philadelphia Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and snapping up former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton in free agency.

Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is coming off an ACL injury, which puts a question mark firmly over his head. Admittedly, when he was playing, he was a standout for the San Francisco 49ers’ elite defense. It remains to be seen whether risking a punt on Moseley will pay dividends.

Guard Graham Glasgow has come full circle after being drafted by the Lions in 2016. He returns after two seasons playing with the Broncos and brings veteran leadership, experience and depth to the interior.

Running back David Montgomery is another pretty good addition to the Lions’ roster, seeing as he will fill the void on the offense left behind by Jamaal Williams’ departure.

2. Vikings +275

  • Key acquisitions: CB Byron Murphy (Cardinals), DE Marcus Davenport (Saints), DT Dean Lowry (Packers), TE Josh Oliver (Ravens).
  • Key re-signings: QB Nick Mullens, C Garrett Bradbury, LS Andrew DePaola, OL Austin Schlottmann, OL Oli Udo, K Greg Joseph, RB Alexander Mattison
  • Key losses: WR Adam Thielen

Although the Vikings have their hands tied by a limited free cap space, they were quick off the mark in free agency. It’s clear that defense is the focus for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Up to this point, the Vikings have signed free agents cornerback Byron Murphy, defensive end Marcus Davenport and defensive tackle Dean Lowry. Plus, they’ve re-signed center Garrett Bradbury, offensive lineman Austin Schlottmann and long snapper Andrew DePaola.

The Vikings’ offense flourished under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. So much so, they were very keen to avoid any major losses on that side of the coin. Towards that end, they restructured quarterback Kirk Cousins’ contract to create $16 million in cap space, as per NFL insiders. Offensive lineman Harrison Smith also saw his contract restructured to free up more cap space. Having said that, the Vikings made NFL News headlines by releasing wide receiver Adam Thielen in their efforts to free cap space.

If there’s one head-scratcher, it’s the addition of tight end Josh Oliver, whose stats after three seasons with two different teams (Jaguars and Ravens) are a shocking read: 230 receiving yards for 26 receptions and two touchdowns.

3. Bears +300

  • Key acquisitions: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Bills), G Nate Davis (Titans), LB T.J. Edwards (Eagles), DT Andrew Billings (Raiders), DE Demarcus Walker (Titans), RB Travis Homer (Seahawks), RB D’Onta Foreman (Panthers), WR D.J, Moore (Panthers, via trade), QB P.J. Walker (Panthers), TE Robert Tonyan (Packers),
  • Key re-signings: LS Patrick Scales
  • Key losses: LB Roquan Smith

Arguably, no other franchise was quite as busy as the rebuilding Chicago Bears, from signings in free agency to leveraging as much draft capital as possible by trading away the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers – a deal that sent seismic shockwaves through the sports betting markets, not to mention the so-called “Draft war rooms” of opposing teams, and altered the entire draft landscape

For the prized first selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, Chicago received two first-round picks (with a high as No. 9), two second-round picks and a wide receiver in D.J. Moore. With this deal, Chicago also signaled its commitment to quarterback Justin Fields and his development. The offense was anemic last season, but with Moore’s acquisition, they’ve taken steps to resuscitate it. Moore is a likely No. 1 wide receiver.

The additions of guard Nate Davis and tight end Robert Tonyan are smart signings. Davis will give Fields much needed protection while Tonyan is another much-needed weapon on the offense. He adds dimension and brings valuable experience playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Running backs Travis Homer and D’Onta Foreman add a one-two punch in the run game.

The Bears have needs on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve addressed some of those by scoping up linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, linebacker T.J. Edwards and defensive tackle Andrew Billings.

4. Packers +450

  • Key acquisitions: LS Matt Orzech (Rams), S Travarius Moore (49ers)
  • Key re-signings: TE Tyler Davis, S Johnathan Ford, CB Keisean Nixon
  • Key losses: QB Aaron Rodgers (pending trade to Jets??), WR Allen Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, DT Dean Lowry, DT Jarran Reed, S Adrian Amos

The Green Bay Packers are going to hit the reset button, finally ushering in a new era with Jordan Love as the offensive pivot. The changing of the guard was inevitable. From the moment the Packers traded up to pick Love in the 2020 NFL Draft, stunning the entire league, the sports betting community and, even, Aaron Rodgers included, it’s been a waiting game. Waiting for that fateful day, the poignant moment that Rodgers bids adieu to Green Bay and the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field in order to make way for Love.

Well, that day is here – or as good as. By all accounts, it’s not a poignant parting between the four-time NFL MVP and the organization that gave him his first start in the NFL. At least not the kind befitting the momentous occasion.

Quite the opposite, it’s got a whiff of acrimony about it. Heck, Rodgers announced his wish to play for the New York Jets live on the Pat McAfee show after sharing his thoughts about the journey and the events that led up to this watershed moment.

The Packers and Jets have yet to announce a trade deal for Rodgers. Until that historic moment arrives, it’s impossible to assess their moves. It’s very likely that many are on hold or tied into the trade deal. And the few that they’ve done so far aren’t revolutionary.

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