We finish off the NFC North Free Agency Matches by Looking at the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2016 and need some improvement.
Needs: RB, LT,RT, RG, WLB, CB depth, WR1
The Adrian Peterson era is over for the Vikings. They need a new workhorse back. Latavius Murray, Jammal Charles or Eddie Lacy could fit the bill at the right price. Minnesota would love to steal a talent from the Packers again.
Matt Kalil is a free agent. He struggled for most of his Vikings career and was hurt in 2016. Minnesota should look at veterans such as Russell Okung, Kelvin Beachum or Ryan Clady to find an upgrade.
Andre Smith was hurt in his one year experiment at right tackle for the Vikings. Ricky Wagner, Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers and Sebastian Vollmer could be fits if the Vikings want to upgrade over Smith at right tackle. Jeremiah Sirles and TJ Clemmings should be the backups.
The Vikings cut Brandon Fusco after a disappointing 2015 and 2016. Larry Warford, TJ Lang, Kevin Zeitler would be big upgrades at right guard for the Vikings. Ron Leary and Chance Warmack will both be in play as well.
Chad Greenway retired and Emmanuel Lemur mostly played special teams. The Vikings may need to draft a LB because Phillip Wheeler, Spencer Paysinger and Josh Bynes make up an underwhelming weak side linebacker class.
Terrence Newman is 38 years old and an unrestricted free agent. Newman had a nice year with Minnesota in 2016. The Vikings could sign him to start over Trae Waynes again. Waynes will be in his third year and finally needs to step up in 2017 as the number 2 CB. Second year CB Mackensie Alexander must step at nickel in place of the free agent Captain Munnerlyn. Alexander is a second round pick from 2016.
Stefon Diggs is a nice number 2 WR and Adam Thielen actually had a decent season at WR in 2016 for Minnesota. The Vikings could still use a better number 1 WR despite drafting Laquan Treadwell in the first round last season. The Vikings could hope Treadwell develops or they could choose to sign a big name WR like Alshon Jeffrey, Terrelle Pryor or Brandon Marshall. Desean Jackson will get big money for his speed and probably not worth the price for the Vikings. Pierre Garcon, Kenny Britt and Torrey Smith are other options for the Vikings to upgrade at WR on the outside and move Diggs in the slot more.
Needs: DE, CB 2, nickel CB, WR1, slot WR
The Bears need one more DE to finish their front 7. Jonathan Bullard(3rd round pick 2016) could develop and Akiem Hicks was a good player; but the Bears could use a veteran. A player like Calais Campbell could really improve the Bears defense along the defensive line. Campbell is a disruptive force and a game changer on defense.
The Bears need cornerback help badly. Kyle Fuller returns from injury but is still a question after a long injury. Bryce Callahan had a decent season but the Bears could add major upgrades at CB. AJ Bouye or Stephon Gilmore would break the bank as signings; but would be really big improvements for the Bears. Morris Claiborne, Dre Kirkpatrick, Alterraun Verner, DJ Hayden, Prince Amukamara could be underrated signings at CB 2. Captain Munnerlyn or Nolan Carroll would help the Bears at the nickel CB spot.
The Bears are letting their top WR Alshon Jeffrey walk in free agency. They must add a WR because oft -injured Kevin White won’t cut it. Terrelle Pryor, Desean Jackson, Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon are options. Brandon Marshall is not an option after his time in Chicago previously.
Victor Cruz or Kendall Wright could upgrade the Bears over Eddie Royal in the slot. Torrey Smith or Ted Ginn would add much needed speed. Kamar Aiken, Brandon Lafell or Andrew Hawkins would add experience but only be a slight upgrade at best. The Bears need to find a top WR somehow and also improve their slot WR over Royal. Chicago hopes White finally stays healthy in his third year.
Free Agency Begins
Free Agency negotiating begins on March 7th at 12 PM. Teams can start signing with new teams on March 9. All NFC North teams have plenty of needs and improvements to be made. We’ll see how free agency is used by the four GMs to build each team. The draft is still the key but you can find plenty of needed talent in free agency.