NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Vikings

     

Bears

Bears’ TE Jimmy Graham was involved in a single-vehicle rollover when he had to swerve a broken-down vehicle that was blocking traffic.

“Just wanted to get ahead of this and tell everybody I’m fine,” Graham wrote on his Twitter. “Was in an accident this morning trying to avoid a disabled vehicle in the center lane. I walked away from it.”

“He was not injured and did not even want to be checked out by paramedics,” Andy Slater of FOX Sports 640 tweeted. “Graham was not at fault, I’m told. He swerved to avoid a car that was blocking the road.”

Lions

Even though Matthew Stafford decided his time with the Lions had run its course, he left Detroit on nothing but good term with everyone. Lions TE T.J. Hockenson says all of Stafford’s former teammates are rooting hard for him to win a well-deserved Super Bowl. 

“There’s not a guy in our locker room that’s not rooting for that guy to get a ring. I mean, all of us loved him,” Hockenson said on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast, via MLive.com’s Benjamin Raven. “…He is probably the best dude, the best player I’ve ever been around. Everybody on our team respected that guy. Like everybody loved him. He will forever put a stamp on my career and in the city of Detroit. He’s, I mean, he was, like I said, one of the best — the best player I’ve ever.”

  • Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press reports that the Lions are continuing to make staff changes and are moving on from Kyle O’Brien and Jimmy Raye III, two top personnel members from the regime of former GM Bob Quinn.

Vikings

Courtney Cronin of ESPN takes a look at the Vikings’ defensive priorities this offseason: 

  • Cronin notes that the return of DE Danielle Hunter from injury and DT Michael Pierce after opting out of 2020 should immensely improve the Vikings’ pass rush. 
  • In Wednesday’s press conference, Vikings GM Rick Spielman said both players are expected to be back for next season and specifically mentioned that Pierce appears to be in “great shape” while Hunter is progressing through his rehab from a herniated disk in his neck. 
  • Spielman added that Hunter never communicated to him that he wanted to be the league’s highest-paid defensive end or that he wanted to play elsewhere in regards to a report back in October. 
  • Cronin points out that the Vikings likely cannot afford to have all three linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and impending free-agent Eric Wilson on next year’s roster. 
  • Cronin mentions that the Vikings could consider converting a portion of Barr’s $12.3 million base salary into a signing bonus if he is unwilling to accept a pay cut, which could bring his cap number down to $7.6 million. The downside, of course, is that it would result in an “enormous” 2022 cap figure.
  • At cornerback, Cronin writes that it is “hard to see” the Vikings exercising CB Mike Hughes fifth-year option for 2022 given he’s appeared in just 24 games through his first three years. Furthermore, the Vikings are “uncertain” about whether Hughes can be a regular contributor after sustaining a neck injury in October. 

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