2021 Offseason Team Needs: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Thanks for checking out our 2021 Offseason Team Needs previews. Consider this a primer for the goals each team has to accomplish this offseason and the resources they have to work with. 

A couple of notes. Salary cap projections are from Over The Cap and based on a cap of $180.5 million. That number could ultimately be different depending on what the NFL and NFLPA figure out before free agency. Compensatory picks are also from OTC’s projections, which are historically the most accurate in the industry. Their methodology is outlined here.

With that, let’s get into it:

Bears

Projected Cap Space: -$6,066,400

Draft Picks: 8

  • 1st (No. 20)
  • 2nd (No. 52)
  • 3rd (No. 84)
  • 5th (No. 148)
  • 6th (No. 180)
  • 6th (comp)
  • 6th (comp)
  • 7th (No. 196, from ATL)

Notable Free Agents: WR Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky, OL Germain Ifedi, DL Roy Robertson-Harris, S Tashaun Gipson, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, DL Mario Edwards, S Deon Bush, CB Artie Burns, K Cairo Santos, K Eddy Pineiro

  1. Quarterback

Here the Bears are yet again trying to solve the quarterback conundrum. Frankly, the fact that GM Ryan Pace is around to take his third shot at it after whiffing on Trubisky and Nick Foles is kind of amazing. But that’s the situation. It looks like the Bears are exploring just about every option, with a trade for Carson Wentz a potential outcome judging by the buzz last week. That’s not a solution guaranteed to work but there won’t be any easy answers for the Bears at that position this offseason. 

  1. Wide Receiver

Outside of quarterback, the situation with Robinson is the biggest question mark surrounding the Bears this offseason. It’s hard to see them moving on given how barren that would leave their receiving corps, and the franchise tag is a possibility. But they’ve had a long time to sign him to a long-term deal and haven’t been willing to pay the cost so far. Regardless of what happens, though, the Bears need more at receiver. Darnell Mooney was a pleasant surprise and can take the top off the defense. Adding even more weapons for whoever the quarterback is should be a priority. 

  1. Offensive Tackle

Solving the quarterback position would go a long way toward fixing the ailing Bears offense but Pace has other holes he needs to figure out as well. Chicago gave significant contracts to both Charles Leno and Bobby Massie as bookend tackles but the two have underperformed. The Bears can move on from Massie, who was replaced by Ifedi as the Bears offense improved down the stretch, but Ifedi is an unrestricted free agent. Tackle might be a position the Bears look to in the draft. 

Lions

Projected Cap Space: $6,198,628

Draft Picks: 6

  • 1st (No. 70
  • 2nd (No. 41)
  • 3rd (No. 72)
  • 3rd (No. 89, from LAR)
  • 4th (No. 103)
  • 5th (No. 137)

Notable Free Agents: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Romeo Okwara, WR Marvin Jones, DE Everson Griffen, S Duron Harmon, LB Jarrad Davis, LB Reggie Ragland, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, RB Adrian Peterson, CB Darryl Roberts, K Matt Prater, WR Danny Amendola, WR Jamal Agnew, OL Oday Aboushi, WR Mohamed Sanu

  1. Cornerback

Detroit’s secondary provided about as much resistance to opponents last year as single-ply toilet paper under a running faucet. Fixing that is new DC Aaron Glenn’s top priority but to do so he’ll probably need to bring in reinforcements. The Lions still have a lot of hope for Jeffrey Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick last year, and Amani Oruwariye has shown some flashes of being a capable starter. But more competition is needed, especially if they say goodbye to veterans Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman

  1. Wide Receiver

The only wide receiver currently under contract for the Lions who was with them in 2020 is fifth-round rookie Quintez Cephus. New QB Jared Goff has shockingly few outside weapons to throw to, as Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola appear to be moving on and it’s not clear what Detroit will do with Golladay, whether it’s a franchise tag, long-term deal or letting him walk. Even if Golladay comes back, though, the Lions need to make multiple additions at wide receiver going into the next era of their team. 

  1. Defensive Tackle

Last offseason, the Lions went hunting in free agency to try and make up for a lot of turnover, adding Nick Williams and Danny Shelton. Neither really had a major impact as the Lions rushing defense actually got worse. Both are strong candidates to be released given the changing of the guard on the coaching staff and the Lions should swing again to try and fortify the interior of their defensive line. 

Packers

Projected Cap Space: -$19,890,681

Draft Picks: 10

  • 1st (No. 29)
  • 2nd (No. 62)
  • 3rd (No. 93)
  • 4th (No. 126)
  • 4th (comp)
  • 5th (No. 157)
  • 5th (comp)
  • 6th (No. 190)
  • 6th (comp)
  • 7th (No. 221)

Notable Free Agents: RB Aaron Jones, C Corey Linsley, CB Kevin King, RB Jamaal Williams, TE Robert Tonyan (RFA), G Lane Taylor, TE Marcedes Lewis, RB Tyler Ervin, DL Montravius Adams, OT Jared Veldheer

  1. Cornerback

Green Bay’s loss in the NFC title game highlighted just how much of an improvement the Packers need to make in the secondary, as while Jaire Alexander continues to blossom into one of the league’s best cover guys, the Buccaneers were the latest team to have success picking on King and Chandon Sullivan. King is a free agent and unlikely to be back. Sullivan should be back as an exclusive rights free agent but won’t be guaranteed the starting role depending on who the Packers can bring in. 

  1. Linebacker

Perhaps this will get better with Joe Barry replacing Mike Pettine as the architect of the defensive scheme. Pettine is notoriously hard on linebackers in his system while Barry got a lot out of relative no-names in Los Angeles. That potentially bodes well for UDFA LB Krys Barnes who earned a starting job in the hardest year for undrafted rookies to stick. But Green Bay still likely will have to make more additions to the position given Christian Kirksey is a probable cap casualty. And perhaps the havoc Tampa Bay’s dynamic linebacking duo wreaked on them and the rest of the postseason field will prompt the Packers to look for some of that for themselves. 

  1. Wide Receiver

Expect wide receiver once again to figure prominently into the offseason discussion surrounding the Packers, especially with the bumper crop of potential free agents and draft prospects this offseason. However, the Packers front office has consistently shown it doesn’t place the same value on the position as outside observers do, so if it’s too rich for GM Brian Gutekunst’s blood, he’ll walk away with Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as complementary options again and point to Devin Funchess coming back after opting out as a new addition. That said, there is room in this offense for a jack-of-all-trades style receiver. Think what Deebo Samuel does for the 49ers or Robert Woods for the Rams. Panthers WR Curtis Samuel would be a dream fit, though he probably won’t be cheap. 

Vikings

Projected Cap Space: -$8,649,781

Draft Picks: 12

  • 1st (No. 14)
  • 3rd (No. 79)
  • 3rd (No. 91, from BAL)
  • 4th (No. 110)
  • 4th (No. 116, from CHI)
  • 4th (No. 125, from BUF)
  • 4th (comp)
  • 5th (No. 141)
  • 5th (No. 155, from BAL)
  • 6th (No. 155)
  • 6th (comp)
  • 7th (No. 206)

Notable Free Agents: S Anthony Harris, LB Eric Wilson, OT Rashod Hill, G Dakota Dozier, LB Todd Davis, C Brett Jones, LB Hardy Nickerson, QB Sean Mannion, RB Ameer Abdullah, S George Iloka

  1. Defensive Tackle

After cutting DT Linval Joseph last offseason, the Vikings never really adequately replaced him and dealt with a lack of playmaking on the interior all season. Fixing that and getting more production out of their defensive line overall is their biggest need going into 2021, as more pressure from the front four will also help a young, developing secondary. Michael Pierce should be back after opting out of 2020 and should be a stout nose tackle — finding a penetrating pass rusher to start next to him, or shoulder a chunk of the snaps in a rotation, would round the unit out. Keep an eye on Bengals DT Geno Atkins, as Cincinnati likely will release him this offseason and he has a lot of history with Vikings HC Mike Zimmer

  1. Safety

Minnesota surprisingly tagged Harris at the deadline last offseason with the thinking that a pair of veteran safeties would help compensate for the young cornerbacks. It backfired, as Harris regressed in a major way after two consecutive strong years. The Vikings won’t tag Harris again and he’ll get to test what’s on the open market, which leaves a gaping hole at safety that Minnesota’s paper-thin depth chart can’t replace. The team will need to find a replacement in either free agency or the draft. 

  1. Offensive Line

The Vikings have thrown a ton of resources at the offensive line, especially in recent seasons, but the unit still isn’t quite where they want it to be. The exact plan for Minnesota this offseason will depend on what they do with LT Riley Reiff and 2020 second-round OL Ezra Cleveland. Reiff was forced into a pay cut to start the season and has a cap figure the Vikings probably need to bring down, which puts a release on the table, though it’s not a foregone conclusion. If they do move on from Reiff, the next question will be what they do with Cleveland, who played tackle in college and was ostensibly drafted as an heir to Reiff, but played exclusively guard as a rookie. Regardless of what happens, they also have a hole at right guard that will need to be filled. Dozier, a pending free agent, has shown his ceiling is a decent backup and former 2019 fourth-round G Dru Samia had four or five reps a game last season that drew into question whether his ceiling was even that high. 

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