NFC North Gap Narrowed After Bears and Lions Free Agency Moves

While NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers were forced to sit idle during the free agencyKyle Vanden Bosch bidding wars, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions were the most aggressive teams on day one.

Lovie Smith and Da’ Bears snatched the biggest prize of the day when they signed defensive end Julius Peppers to a six-year contract worth a maximum $91.5 million. The five-time Pro Bowl player will receive a record $42 million guaranteed.

In addition to Peppers, Da’ Bears also snatched running back Chester Taylor from the Vikings signing the rusher to a four-year deal worth $12.5 million with $7 million guaranteed.

Knowing the importance of granting quarterback Jay Cutler more time to throw, they also added blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna from the San Diego Chargers.

Not to be outdone, the Detroit Lions made a few quick moves of their own, signing three sure starters when they inked deals with two defensive linemen and a No. 2 wide receiver.

Wanting to shore up a defense that was last in the NFL in points allowed and total yards, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz personally visited Tennessee Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch at 12:01 AM on day one of free agency and convinced the Pro Bowler to sign with the team.

While Vanden Bosch and his agent were working out the details of a four-year, $26 million deal, the Lions also inked a $25 million contract with Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson.

Burleson played in 13 games for the Seahawks last year, catching 63 for 812 yards and three touchdowns and is expected to free up Calvin Johnson from the double and triple coverage he sees on a weekly basis.

Joining Vanden Bosch on the Lions’ defensive line will be Cleveland Browns Corey Williams, another proven starter who was obtained by a trade.

With the Lions adding these proven veteran linemen to their defense and with the team expected to use their No. 2 overall selection in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft to select defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, you can throw last year’s dismal defensive stats out the window.

These aggressive moves by the Bears and Lions are certain to make the NFC North more competitive.

Minnesota lost a huge piece of their offense when Taylor left and while Brett Favre sits on the fence in Minnesota still contemplating a return, The Green Bay Packers lost Pro Bowl defensive lineman Aaron Kampman to free agency as well.

© 2010 – Sports ClimaxTM

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