NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Vikings



Tight end was a major weakness last year for the Bears and in response the team threw a ton of resources at fixing it this offseason. So far the early returns from camp have been promising, with free-agent signing Jimmy Graham and second-round rookie Cole Kmet playing solidly. 

“I think we have a deadly tight end room,” Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky said via the Athletic’s Adam Jahns. “They’re super athletic; they’re big and they’re long and they’re physical in the run game. And when you throw the ball up in the air, they can go up and high point it. They all have unique abilities, but I think together, they can be a special room that can really help our offense this year. So it’s our job to create mismatches for them and let them use their abilities, and as a quarterback, it’s my job to put the ball where they can go make great plays for them.”


Lions rookie Logan Stenberg feels comfortable as he attempts to learn all three positions on the offensive line and is currently learning the center position in the case that he has to fill in for starting C Frank Ragnow.

“Yeah, just trying to be a sponge out there,” Stenberg said, via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News. “It’s a very difficult position. Thankfully I’ve got Frank ahead of me, a great center, and he’s teaching me a lot. (I’m) just trying to go in every day and improve on one thing per day and get to that final goal. It was just need-based, so I’m in there playing center, playing guard. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I’d like to play all three.”


Albert Breer reports that the Vikings and DE Yannick Ngakoue specifically agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal, which is nearly $6 million less than he would have made from the Jaguars under the franchise tag.

According to Breer, this affects Ngakoue’s franchise tag figure in 2021. Ngakoue would be assigned the slotted defensive end franchise tag number, since it will be higher than 120 percent of $12 million he’ll make from the Vikings.

Breer adds that next year’s cap shortfall could mean that number is lower, but the Vikings have reportedly pledged to try to get a long-term deal in place. 

  • ESPN’s Courtney Cronin says part of the reason the Vikings stopped negotiating with RB Dalvin Cook is they wanted to move on to other priorities, like the trade with the Jaguars for DE Yannick Ngakoue.
  • Minnesota didn’t take the offer off the table, per Cronin, but she says it’s unclear if the deal is still on the table following the acquisition of Ngakoue. The franchise tag is an option for Cook in 2021. 
  • As for DE Danielle Hunter who’s been sitting out of practice for weeks with a reported injury tweak, Cronin says the Vikings are just being cautious and Ngakoue was added to complement, not replace, Hunter in 2020. 
  • Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio points out Ngakoue’s arrival raises some questions about Hunter, who is already underpaid compared to other pass rushers around the NFL and soon will be far behind a teammate. 
  • Hunter is under contract at an average of $14.4 million per year through 2024 right now.
  • The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia notes the Vikings minimized their risk because they’re set to get a third-round compensatory pick back if they can’t re-sign Ngakoue. 
  • Minnesota will have on franchise tag in 2021 and three potential candidates — Ngakoue, Cook and S Anthony Harris. However, Harris is unlikely to get the tag again after being the Vikings’ choice for the tender this year. (Chris Tomasson)
  • The Vikings still need to create cap space and OT Riley Reiff with his $13.2 million cap hit is a prime candidate for a restructure, though he’s unlikely to be cut. (Cronin)
  • Other candidates to be restructured include QB Kirk Cousins and LB Anthony Barr. (Tomasson)
  • Ngakoue was actually willing to take less from another team that was interested than the pay cut to around $13 million he agreed to with the Vikings. (Pro Football Talk)
  • Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said he wasn’t able to comment in detail until the trade was finalized but he did note the Vikings wanted to keep their defensive line strong: “We’ve been looking for another pass rusher for quite a while. I think that’s important when you have a young secondary.” (Chad Graff)
  • He also reiterated the team is just being cautious with Hunter and doesn’t expect his conditioning for Week 1 to be an issue: “We’re being cautious with him and rightfully so.” (Tomasson)
  • Zimmer wouldn’t commit to a starting offensive line but said veteran G Dakota Dozier has been doing well. Dozier appears the favorite to start at left guard. (Tomasson)
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