Cutdown week has come and gone. Teams have finalized their rosters, and players can finally breathe a sigh of relief - they’re either playing football or looking for a new job. The NFC North was a whirlwind of activity this past week - and almost none of it had to do with action on the field of play. The intrigue happened mostly in the front offices. Aaron Rodgers signed a monstrosity of a backloaded deal that will keep him in Green Bay for at least a few years. And the Bears weren’t about to be outdone, getting a deal done with the Oakland Raiders for former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, signed versatile safety Quandre Diggs (No Relation) to a ho-hum three year, 20.4 million dollar contract. I say ho-hum not because it’s an insignificant amount, but because all of a sudden, twenty million dollars just seems fairly pedestrian these days. Why, oh why, couldn’t I have been born athletic instead of good-looking, charming and talented?
Skipping over the Khalil Mack deal momentarily, the Bears roster moves went off largely as predicted. No real unexpected names, and really no “let’s jump at the chance to sign this guy” moments, either. As far as the depth chart is concerned, the only real surprise that I see is the fact that rookie James Daniels is listed as the sole backup at all three interior O-Line positions, and the Bears kept only seven O-Linemen. For a team with so much invested in their QBOTF, Mitchell Trubisky, that just seems like a pretty big risk.
On the defensive side of the ball, the addition of Mack really does add quite a bit of punch. Vic Fangio is no dummy, and now he has players that fit his needs all over the field. I’d give the Bears a very solid second place in the NFCN as far as defenses go, behind only the Vikings.
“Fellas, how many sacks we think, Khalil “Mac Daddy” Mack will get this year?”— NotMitchTrubisky (@NotTrubisky) September 1, 2018
“Yea Bob, I’m gunna have to go wit a strong 67 and a half...With the half coming from him actually physically picking up a left tackle and throwing him into the QB.”#KhalilMack #DaBears pic.twitter.com/U4TZE3HwGU
Now, on to the Mack signing. The Bears gave up first round picks in 2019 and 2020 in order to get Mack, then had to turn around and sign him to a six year, $141 million contract, with $90 million of that guaranteed. This season, however, will be played under his fifth year option, paying him “only” $13.8 million (see, there’s that whole ho-hum feeling again!).
What folks in Chicago don’t seem to want to talk about is the fact that, according to the folks at Over The Cap, there’s a strong possibility that Mack never sees the end of this contract. The last three years’ dead money goes from 6.8 million, to zero, to zero again. And Mack, who will be 33 years old at the end of the deal, will have a cap hit of 24, 22, and 23 million dollars those last three years. The deal seems to be making Bears fans happy, and I certainly get it. But for a team that seems to be a couple years away from contending, it seems like they’re going all in right now.
The Bears open their season on Sunday Night Football in Green Bay.
Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: Green Bay wins the game, Ridgers throws three TD passes, and the universe goes bananas because Rodgers is “back”.
The Lions - who can already boast a pretty impressive starting offensive line of Taylor Decker, TJ Lang, Graham Glasgow, Frank Ragnow, and Ricky Wagner - ended up keeping 10 (ten!) offensive linemen, including Joe Dahl (who I mentioned in last week’s recap). Considering the Bears, Vikings, and Packers all have needs along the offensive line in one form or another, that almost seems like a defensive move.
Lions Twitter got all riled up about Khalil Mack, as well. Local Radio host Dan Leach dug deep into his sources to try and break a story that Khalil Mack was heading to Detroit.
Just heard from a Metro Detroit limo driver that he just picked up Raiders LB Khalil Mack and he is going to meet with #Lions GM Bob Quinn Monday. Stay tuned.......— Dan Leach (@DanLeach971) August 27, 2018
Leach was definitely out to lunch on this one, but may have earned himself fourteen and a half years worth of free sandwiches, so there may be some consolation for him.
I will bet you 5,265 sandwiches Mack will not be on the field for the Raiders week 1.....You can choose where the sandwiches are from....Deal?— Dan Leach (@DanLeach971) August 27, 2018
The Lions open their season in a Monday Night must-see TV matchup, hosting the New York Jets.
Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: The Lions win this one handily, as the Jets turn the ball over several times, and the New York media begins calling for Sam Darnold’s head on a platter.
Green Bay Packers
OK, I know he didn’t actually wear that outfit to the signing. But, seriously. Ughh... he’s just... such a...
Oh, by the way, the Packers signed Aaron Rodgers to a new, 134 million dollar deal, with $78 Million of that guaranteed. It’s a pretty team-friendly deal, too - assuming Rodgers can be healthy and productive until he’s 40 years old. And he will, because… Packers.
The Packers will be on the hook for a total of $103 million in Cap space or, perhaps, $68 million in dead money in the years Rodgers turns 37, 38, and 39 years old. I guess that’s a plus for the rest of the division.
Quinten Rollins made the 53... pic.twitter.com/B5KL5BNG4S— Greg Ingram (@PackmanGDI) September 2, 2018
On cutdown day, the team released - with an injury settlement - veteran defensive back - and fan NOTfavorite - Quinten Rollins. Rollins had slowly fallen out of favor with Packer fans since being drafted in the second round in 2015. The only player from the 2015 Packers draft class who will be on the roster to start the season is wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery, who is listed second behind starter Jamaal Williams, who is starting in place of the suspended Aaron Jones.
Another player during camp that moved the needle for Packer fans - but this time in a good way - was Wide Receiver Jake Kumerow. Kumerow, dubbed ‘The Great Whitewater Hope’ has bounced around the league for a couple of years, landing on Cincinnati’s, New England’s, and Green Bay’s practice squads. In fact, there’s a pretty incredible story about him, which can be found here, that I truly encourage you to check out (no sarcasm font neccesary. It really is a good read). Yes, UW-Whitewater is in Packerland, so that kind of makes Kumerow a “local” to Packers fans, but his story is much more than that.. Unfortunately, Kumerow was placed on IR-Designated to Return, which means there’s no hope (Whitewater, or otherwise) of seeing him until week 8 at the earliest.
As stated above, the Packers open their season at Lambeau on Sunday night versus the Chicago Bears.
Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: The Pack will win (see above).