NFC North Round-Up: Big Questions for All 4 Teams Heading into the Offseason

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With the Detroit Lions losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, every NFC North team is now looking ahead to the offseason.

This is an important offseason for each team as they prepare for the start of the 2024 regular season. The ways in which they build their teams in the coming months could determine the pecking order of the division when next season rolls around. Here is a look at some of the big questions facing each team this spring.

What Do the Bears Do with the No. 1 Overall Pick?

NFC North
Sep 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles walks laps around the field before their game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft begins with the Chicago Bears, and they have a huge decision to make that will not only impact their team in 2024, but for years to come. A year ago, the Bears traded the first overall pick to the Carolina Panthers rather than selecting a quarterback.

However, the QB prospects at the top of this year’s draft may be too enticing to overlook. On top of that, the Bears soon will have to think about paying Justin Fields if they were to keep him around. GM Ryan Poles has a massive decision on his hands with this selection.

Can the Lions Keep OC Ben Johnson Around?

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson watches a play against Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.

Detroit rode their offensive success to the NFC Championship Game this year, but they could be in danger of losing the architect of that offense, OC Ben Johnson. Since Johnson took over the offensive coordinator role in 2022, the Lions have put together back-to-back seasons ranking among the NFL’s top five teams in terms of points scored and total yards accrued.

This offseason, Johnson has been oft-discussed as a head coaching candidate, and he is interviewing for each of the final two vacant jobs in Seattle and Washington. If the Lions were to lose him to a head coaching role, they will have to fill the void at OC with another creative mind.

What Happens to the Packers RB Room?

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Patrick Jones II (91) during their football game on Sunday, January, 1, 2023 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

The Green Bay Packers caught fire down the stretch of the 2023 season to make a push for the playoffs. Their success in the second half of the year was in part due to improved play from QB Jordan Love, but the re-emergence of their rushing attack played a huge part in that as well.

Now, though, the Packers have big questions to answer in their backfield. There’s a reason Green Bay was talking to the Colts about a Jonathan Taylor trade prior to the season. Aaron Jones is going to be 30 years old in December, and he missed a large chunk of the season because of injuries. In 2024, he is set to carry a massive cap hit of $17.5 million, which is fourth-highest on the team. Meanwhile, A.J. Dillon, the other half of Green Bay’s rushing attack, is entering free agency. Green Bay can fork out some big money to keep their current players, or they could look to rebuild this RB room in the draft.

How Many Stars Will the Vikings Pay?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Nov 27, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have questions up and down their roster to answer in the coming months. Minnesota has 28 players set to enter free agency this spring, including a number of key contributors from the past few seasons like QB Kirk Cousins and OLB Danielle Hunter.

On top of these free agents, WR Justin Jefferson needs to get a contract extension prior to the start of the season if the Vikings want to avoid him hitting unrestricted free agency in 2025. The Vikings have the ability to free up enough cap space to make the necessary moves towards keeping players in purple next season, but how much will they prioritize the present compared to the future?

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. 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.

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