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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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Bitch-Slap-of-the-Week – Jay Cutler and Da’ Bears

After giving up 537 total yards in a 36-10 blowout loss to the Minnesota Vikings and longtime archenemy Brett Favre and dropping their record to 4-7, (AP Photo/Andy King)the Chicago Bears earned the Slap-of-the-Week.

This team is the biggest embarrassment in the NFL right now. More than the Browns, Lions and Rams because this team has talent and still can’t figure it out.

After starting the year 3-1, Da’ Bears have been on a high-speed spiral, losing 6 of the last 7, while being outplayed, out-hustled and taken to school on both sides of the ball.

While Da’ Bears continue this self-imploding act, injured linebacker Brian Urlacher had a few harsh words to Yahoo! Sports this week that sounded like a slap in the face to Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler.

“I hate the way our identity has changed,” said Urlacher. “We used to establish the run and wear teams down and try not to make mistakes. Kyle Orton might not be the flashiest quarterback, but the guy is a winner, and that formula worked for us. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth.”

Much of the blame is being placed on Cutler who was obtained during the off-season and expected to turn the franchise around. Instead, Cutler leads the league in interceptions (20), throwing more than rookies Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez and sits near the bottom of the pack with a 74.4 quarterback rating. If it gets any worse, you may begin to hear Bears fans chant for their past failure Rex Grossman.

Cutler was featured in our story, “Cutler Leads 49ers to Victory”after throwing 5 interceptions and gift-wrapping a 10-6 victory to the Niners earlier this season and defensive lineman Tommie Harris was slammed by his teammates and the media after upper-cutting a defenseless Arizona Cardinals player in the face after a whistle during another blowout embarrassing loss.

While Cutler lacks the support of any running game, offensive line or defense, there are plenty of other places to point the finger so we at Sports Climax are pointing an open hand full of fingers in the organization’s general direction, hauling off and giving Da’ Bears this week’s Bitch-Slap-of-the-Week.

In the meantime, we anxiously await the Bears’ final game of the season in Detroit to see if the rebuilding Lions will feast on this stumbling once-feared rival.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax

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