Green Bay Packers

The NFC North Gave the Cap-Strapped Packers an Assist This Offseason

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu (USA TODAY Sports)

This fairly unpredictable offseason has left parts of the Green Bay Packers’ fanbase feeling uneasy, bordering on panicky. The surprise Aaron Jones re-signing lifted spirits, but they haven’t made many roster moves outside of that. While this may create some dread among the Green Bay faithful, take a deep breath and take a broader look around the NFC North.

The Packers came up a step short of a Super Bowl appearance last year, and in most instances, teams would invest in the areas of deficiency that kept them out of the title game. Green Bay didn’t really have that luxury, given their lack of cap space. Thankfully for them, they’ve gotten help from the NFC North.

The Chicago Bears went from dreaming of Russell Wilson to signing Andy Dalton. You will be hard-pressed to find more of a talent gap between two names linked to the same team at one position. At the very least, Wilson would make Chicago instant contenders in the division. He’s one of a few quarterbacks who can carry the weight even if the weapons around him are less than stellar. Instead, the Bears locked down Dalton in a move that was mocked by their own fanbase.

As soon as Dalton put pen to paper on that contract, the Bears confirmed they would not be a serious threat to dethrone the Packers next year, barring something unforeseen. They say quarterback is the most important position in football, maybe in all of sports; who would’ve thought the Bears could downgrade from Mitch Trubisky? They found a way with Dalton, and it was cause for massive sighs of relief throughout Wisconsin.

Some wonder if the Packers could actually take a step back next year. Corey Linsley is gone after becoming arguably the best center in the league during his time in Green Bay. The Packers have a new defensive coordinator in Joe Barry, whose past pit stops running defenses in Washington and Detroit were less than ideal. And they have a schedule that features games on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and New Orleans Saints. They also have notable home contests against the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Green Bay’s schedule has definitely beefed up in 2021. These are all reasons to start gnawing your fingernails, but luckily the Bears weren’t the only team to assist the Packers in the NFC North this offseason.

Matthew Stafford has long been a pest for the Packers. Regardless of Detroit’s record, if Stafford was playing quarterback, Green Bay was usually in for a dogfight. Thankfully for the Packers, they won’t have to worry about playing Stafford twice in the regular season anymore.

Detroit sent Stafford to the Rams this offseason in a move that landed them draft compensation and Jared Goff. Anyone who thinks Goff and Stafford are even close to being on the same tier needs a reality check. Sure Goff made a Super Bowl start. He also had one of the most well-regarded offensive minds in Sean McVay and an array of reliable weapons to work with — and they still didn’t score a touchdown in that Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Goff had stability and structure. Stafford had a revolving door of coaches in Detroit and, outside of Calvin Johnson, not a hell of a lot to work with downfield.

Goff is a downgrade at the position and likely a temporary placeholder at quarterback. That’s perfectly fine with the Packers, who view next season as another golden opportunity to win the Lombardi Trophy.

While it’s entirely possible the Lions and Bears draft quarterbacks early in the 2021 NFL Draft, they aren’t competing for the crown next year, even though Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace are very much on the hot seat in Chicago. Detroit and Chicago aspire to have stability in the future. The Packers already have that now.

The lack of moves and the unknown lingering around certain contracts may have some Green Bay fans reaching for barf bags. Thankfully for the Packers, the NFC North didn’t get better this offseason. Tip of the cap to the Lions and the Bears for the assist.

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