NFC North Notes: Bears, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

The Bears have thrown ample resources at fixing the tight end position this offseason given how critical a role it plays for HC Matt Nagy‘s offense. Chicago cut Trey Burton before the draft but added a replacement in the second round by drafting TE Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame. Kmet grew up a Bears fan and called being drafted by Chicago a dream come true. 

“I know they’ve been looking for a tight end to fit in the room,” Kmet said via Larry Meyer of the team website. “And I know they just signed Jimmy [Graham] … I know that coach Nagy likes to use tight ends in his offense, and he’s looking for tight ends that can go in and compete and be able to execute his offense, so I know it was a need and I’m really excited to get in there and get going.”

At 6-5 and 250 pounds, Kmet models his game after future Hall-of-Fame TE Rob Gronkowski. If he even comes close to that level, Chicago will have solved its issues at the position. 

“A guy I’ve always looked to was ‘Gronk’ and his physical style and play and being able to use his size at 6-6,” Kmet said. “It’s something that’s unique and it’s something I feel like I can do. His style of play is something I’ve tried to model after and that’s kind of what I’m trying to emulate to be.”

Packers

By putting such a significant investment into QB Jordan Love, the Packers have effectively started the watch for the end of Aaron Rodgers‘ career. The first-round rookie has four years plus a fifth-year option to take him through 2024. Rodgers’ deal runs through 2023 but the Packers could conceivably move on from the 36-year-old veteran in 2022 when he’ll be turning 38. However, GM Brian Gutekunst pushed back against the idea of Love putting a clock on Rodgers. 

“I’m very hopeful Aaron continues to play at a high level for years to come,” Gutekunst said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I know a lot of people are saying this puts a clock on Aaron, but I don’t see that at all. We prioritize the quarterback position, and have for a long time with this franchise. I remember one year in camp they had Brett Favre, Ty Detmer, Kurt Warner and maybe Mark Brunell. It’s one of the most important positions in sports, and if you don’t have one, you can’t win.”

Packers LT David Bakhtiari believes the team’s decision to draft Love in the first round will light a fire for Rodgers.

“Let me tell y’all something right now: Look out!”  Bakhtiari told Deion Sanders during the ‘Draft-A-Thon’ Live show, via NFL.com. “Aaron is about to be on fire.”

“Look, he’s already great when he is just chill,” Bakhtiari added. “But when I’ve seen him when he gets riled up … Wooo! Getting my hair raised up right now, thinking about this.”

However, Love said he spoke with Rodgers on Friday and told Rodgers he’s excited to work with him. 

I was able to talk with him earlier,” Love said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN. “Really good guy. Just congratulated me, and I was just letting him know that I was excited to be able to work with him.”

  • Per NBC Sports’ Peter King, the Packers had intel a team high in the second round was trying to trade up for Love, which prompted their move up to get him.
  • Gutekunst also told King the Packers had two receivers they wanted in the early and middle part of the second round and tried to trade up for one until they were off the board.  
  • Green Bay even inquired about potentially trading up with the division-rival Vikings, who had the 22nd and 25th picks in the first round, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
  • Back in March, Rodgers said any quarterback Green Bay considers bringing in would not be able to beat him for a starting role anytime soon: “No matter who you bring in, they’re not going to be able to beat me out anytime soon.” (Field Yates)

Vikings

  • According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, Vikings RB Dalvin Cook will participate in Minnesota’s voluntary virtual offseason activities while awaiting a new contract. 
  • CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes the Vikings were trying to trade back up to take DT Justin Madubuike, who went No. 71 overall to the Ravens in the third round. 
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