Chris Wesseling

Offseason Low Down

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Team Notes: NFC East, North

Monday, April 04, 2011




NFC North:

Bears: The Bears' front office has stood steadfastly behind Jay Cutler as the franchise QB in the face of harsh criticism directed his way in the NFC Championship game. … Coordinator Mike Martz continues to waffle on Caleb Hanie as the No. 2 QB, though coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo are now believers. All involved refuse to acknowledge last year's costly mistake of pushing a washed-up Todd Collins back ahead of Hanie on the depth chart. … The team has begun "preliminary" extension talks with Matt Forte, who is fifth in the league in yards from scrimmage the past three years. Chester Taylor, on the other hand, may have to stave off competition to keep his backup job after running with a fork sticking out of his back throughout last season.

The Bears don't intend to increase Devin Hester's snap count on offense, and Martz has even suggested a bigger role for Earl Bennett in 2011. Johnny Knox remains the only Windy City receiver worth drafting in standard scoring leagues. … Devin Aromashodu will find a new home this year after the Bears failed to tender him a restricted free agent offer. … Angelo claims that Greg Olsen's role will grow in his second season under Martz. Heavy skepticism is advised.

Lions: Matthew Stafford (collarbone) has resumed throwing passes, reporting no discomfort after a heavy passing session. He'll be 100 percent by training camp as a high upside QB2. … The front office saw dramatic improvement in Drew Stanton last season, and they aim to keep him as a restricted free agent. … Jahvid Best is fully recovered from the twin turf toe injuries that ruined his rookie season. Coach Jim Schwartz made it clear that he has no concerns about his feature back entering year number two, though the Lions may add a big-back complement in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft after parting with Kevin Smith. There's no doubting Best's playmaking ability. We like the Brian Westbrook clone as a "buy" in keeper and Dynasty formats.

Calvin Johnson is now "grateful" to be playing for the Lions after closing out the season on a four-game winning streak. His rookie deal goes through 2012. … Drop-prone third receiver Bryant Johnson is unlikely to return at a $3.2 million base salary. … Long-time kicker Jason Hanson may have to beat out Dave Rayner to keep his job after leg injuries ruined his 2010 season.

Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy poured cold water on the notion that backup QB Matt Flynn could be had for a second-day draft pick. The Packers need a strong backup to Aaron Rodgers, victim of two 2010 concussions, more than they need another draft pick. … McCarthy also confirmed that he expects Ryan Grant and James Starks to compete for carries this season. Grant is due a $1 million bonus on the 15th day of the new league year, but he doesn't seem to be in any danger of getting the axe. We suspect Grant will enter training camp atop the depth chart, though fantasy production will be inconsistent with a potential "hot hand" situation brewing.

Super Bowl hero Jordy Nelson will not require surgery for the bursa sac injury that affected him on the final drive in Dallas. He's already leapfrogged James Jones in the team's plans, and there's a good chance he'll be targeted more than Donald Driver in 2011. We're high on Nelson as a Dynasty league "buy." … Jones was tendered as a restricted free agent, but the Packers are expected to let him walk if he ends up on the open market once the CBA is finalized. … Driver confirmed that he has no intention of retiring soon, and the Packers will apparently bring him back on his $5 million salary. He has a long offseason to get over his multiple leg injuries from 2010. … Stud TE Jermichael Finley (knee) is expected to be at full strength whenever offseason practices begin.

Vikings: Coach Leslie Frazier "ideally" would draft a quarterback in the first or second round to compete with project Joe Webb this summer. Don't rule out a veteran stopgap such as Donovan McNabb or Vince Young as well. V.Y.'s old QB's coach Craig Johnson is now on Frazier's staff. ... Brett Favre isn't coming back for a 21st NFL season. Seriously. He's done. … VP of player personnel Rick Spielman will work toward a contract extension for Adrian Peterson once there is a new CBA in place. Incentives and escalators have pushed ADP's 2011 salary to $10.2 million.

The Vikes will do "everything possible" to re-sign Sidney Rice, who was tendered at the first-round level. If Rice ends up making it to the open market, he will be the top receiver on the shopping list of more than a few teams. Rumors that Rice is still dealing with an arthritic condition in his hip have turned up empty thus far. … Frazier's coaching staff plans to feature Percy Harvin with a larger offensive role, which could lead to a reduction in return responsibilities. … There is no immediate plan to cut ties with Bernard Berrian, but we remain unconvinced that he'll return on a $3.9 base salary. … Even in Bill Musgraves' tight-end friendly offense, Visanthe Shiancoe's arrow is pointing down. His fantasy production will take a hit with Favre out of the picture.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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