NFC North Round-Up: Major Free Agency Additions for All 4 Teams

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after defeating the Chicago Bears during their football game Sunday, January 7, 2024, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

We are officially one week through the NFL free agency period.

Over the course of this past week, the four teams in the NFC North were all very busy making new additions to their rosters. Here is a look at the top acquisitions for all four squads from the first week of free agency.

Bears Put Stars on Their Offense

NFC North
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift (0) celebrates his touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears had one of the best rushing offenses in the league last season, and now, they’ve added D’Andre Swift to the backfield as he joins Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson. After beginning his career with the Detroit Lions, Swift was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and the running back put together 229 carries for a career-high 1049 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

Not only did they sign Swift, though, but the Bears also made a couple trades that will shake up their team. First, they acquired WR Keenan Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for a fourth-round pick before trading QB Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional sixth-round pick. As a result of the Fields trade, it appears that Chicago will be drafting a quarterback with the first overall pick this spring.

Lions Shore Up Their Defense

Jan 15, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) gestures after a play against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of a 2024 NFC wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Detroit Lions finished with the 10th-most points allowed and the 14th-most yards allowed. They relied heavily on their offense to win the NFC North, and as a result, they’ve spent much of the early stages of free agency working on their defense.

They landed CB Carlton Davis in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a third-round pick to put another star player in their secondary next to Brian Branch and Cameron Sutton. Then, the Lions also put together deals for Marcus Davenport and D.J. Reader to put some extra beef on their defensive line next to Aidan Hutchinson and Alim McNeil.

Packers Land Former Rushing Champion

January 1, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) scores a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers weren’t especially active in free agency in terms of the number of deals, but they made their new contracts count. Right away, they landed RB Josh Jacobs to replace Aaron Jones in their backfield. Jacobs is about three years younger than Jones, and in 2022, he was the NFL’s rushing champion with 1653 yards on 340 carries.

Not only did they land Jacobs, but the Packers also made an agreement with S Xavier McKinney, who spent his first four seasons with the New York Giants. McKinney missed eight games of the 2022 season with injury, but in 2021 and 2023 combined, he recorded 21 passes defended and eight interceptions. McKinney is a ballhawk in the secondary and should be a problem for opposing quarterbacks.

Vikings Replace Many Veterans

Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard (52) walks off the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings were one of the most active teams in free agency out of necessity. They lost names like Kirk Cousins, Marcus Davenport, Jordan Hicks, Danielle Hunter, K.J. Osborn, and also released Alexander Mattison prior to free agency’s start.

Because of that, Minnesota signed a total of nine players this week. Sam Darnold comes in as their new quarterback (for now) while Aaron Jones joins Ty Chandler in Minnesota’s backfield to rejuvenate the Vikings’ rushing attack.

Defensively, Blake Cashman, Jonathan Greenard, and Andrew Van Ginkel create a new trio in the front seven while Jerry Tillery hopefully can help be a pass rushing presence at the DT spot.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.