NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

New Bears S Tashaun Gipson said he is approaching this offseason as if he is competing for a spot on their active roster. 

I came in this league with low expectations and had to fight and claw for everything. So I wouldn’t look at this opportunity any different, no matter the accolades, no matter what I’ve done,” said Gipson, via Kevin Fishbain.

Gipson said he decided to join the Bears because it gave him the best opportunity to win. 

I’ve actually physically played in the playoffs once and in eight years,” Gipson said, via Adam Jahns of The Athletic. “Coming to the right situation and being able to play meaningful games, it gets a little more important. I’m not a young 23-year-old, 24-year-old guy just saying ‘Hey, man, I’m just trying to go where the money goes.’ Obviously, the money plays a part but right now it’s about winning and setting that foundation. And whatever else happens after this can set you up and everything else will take care of itself.

Gipson added that Bears’ veteran CB Buster Skrine was a “major” influence in his decision to join Chicago. 

“Having a guy like Buster here who’s able to tell me and be real about how things are operated and run here was major,” Gipson said. “It was a key point for me because you know that’s somebody I trusted. He had nothing but great things to say about the city, about the organization about the fans and that made it a whole lot easier.”

Lions

The Lions beat out a number of teams, notably the Saints, to lure LB Jamie Collins to Detroit in free agency. Lions HC Matt Patricia got an up-close and personal view of Collins when both were together with the Patriots, and the veteran’s jaw-dropping athleticism was a major factor in why Detroit targeted the linebacker in the first wave of free agency. 

“I’ve literally watched him stand at the line of scrimmage and try to grab the ball out of the quarterback’s hand as he was throwing it,” Patricia said via Mike O’Hara of the team’s website. “He just can do those things. Sometimes you run into those type of athletes. He’s a very versatile player. He has great flexibility — is a threat in the rush, is a threat in coverage, is very smart, communicates really well. He’s mature. He has great leadership about him. He’s professional. He attacks his job the same every single day. He loves this game. He grinds at it. He works hard. To be able to bring a guy like that into our organization, and to allow him to help develop some of the younger players we have, even at the linebacker position, just was a great opportunity for us.”

Packers

Last year, CB Tramon Williams started the entire year for the Packers as their nickel cornerback. While the 38-year-old remains on the market and Green Bay hasn’t closed the door on a return, there are other, younger options if the team wants to go a different way. Second-year undrafted CB Chandon Sullivan might be the frontrunner for the job, but Green Bay could also move Jaire Alexander inside in nickel packages. Other options include Josh Jackson, Ka’dar Hollman or even safeties Darnell Savage and Will Redmond.

“I certainly like a bunch of the guys we have on our roster right now,” Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said via Wes Hodkiewicz of the team website. “I think we have a lot of versatility in our secondary group that can do most of that. Obviously Chandon Sullivan did a really, really nice job for us the times he had to go in there last year. Jaire can move in there, Josh Jackson can do some of that stuff, so I think we have some pretty good flexibility of guys that can play in there. And even Darnell Savage, he certainly has the skill set to do that. So I think we have a lot of quality candidates.”

Vikings

Part of the reason Vikings RB Dalvin Cook slipped to the second round when he was coming out of Florida State in 2017 were rumors of character concerns. They were always vague and mostly centered around the people Cook was choosing to surround himself with, but along with an average performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, it pushed Cook down the board. The Vikings did their homework on Cook and have reaped the benefits, as he’s been outstanding not only on the field, but in the Minnesota community as well. 

“He has been off the charts,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said via Pro Football Talk. “And those are things that you do a lot of background work on. We have always done that. I remember the call I made to him that Friday morning before we drafted him and moved up to go get him and how impressive he was, and just me and him talking one-on-one before the draft started that day, and you know just talking through some of the sources that I know that have been around him, we felt very confident in taking him. Not just because he was a great player, but because what he stood for as a human being, and all of those things and all of the resources and all of the research that we have done on him came true, and he is one of the leaders in the community.

“He is always out front, he is always contributing in different ways. He just did another thing with COVID-19, and how he has sacrificed some of his money and so that just tells what kind of character and person that we did enough research on that we were very confident. That is what he was going to turn out to be and that is what he was and has been.”

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