Are the Bears the NFC North winners in free agency to date?

Are the Bears the NFC North winners in free agency to date?
April 6, 2014, 10:15 pm
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So, have the Bears "won" free agency, especially after Phil Emery's latest shrewd move to protect (and eventually replace?) Roberto Garza at center with Sunday's signing of Brian de la Puente?

We'll downsize this to the NFC North, with players gained and lost, as this Tuesday will mark the one-month mark for free agency:

Chicago Bears

In: DE Jared Allen, DE/DT Lamarr Houston, DE/DT Israel Idonije, DE Willie Young, WR Domenik Hixon, S Ryan Mundy (M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray), CB Kelvin Hayden, LB Jordan Senn, C Brian de la Puente, P Drew Butler/Tress Way

Out: DE Julius Peppers, DE/DT Corey Wootton, DT Henry Melton, WR Earl Bennett, S Major Wright, CB Zack Bowman, LB Blake Costanzo, P Adam Podlesh

[MORE: Bears sign Brian de la Puente to one-year deal]

Notes: The re-signed Jeremiah Ratliff essentially takes over for Melton at DT...Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings re-sign to cover the starting CB position...Jordan Palmer promoted (for now) to take over for Josh McCown as No. 2 quarterback...KR Devin Hester's replacement TBD (Hixon? Chris Williams?)...and a Michael Ford promotion right now projects as a replacement for No. 2 RB Michael Bush...The O-Line remains intact, with an insurance policy behind Roberto Garza at C. Journeymen DE's Austen Lane and Trevor Scott were signed early in free agency for competition....D.J. Williams re-signed to take over at MLB, unless beaten out by Jon Bostic (also competing with Shea McClellin at SAM to replace James Anderson).

Green Bay Packers

In: DE Julius Peppers, DT Letroy Guion

Out: DT Ryan Pickett/Johnny Jolly, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, WR James Jones, TE Jermichael Finley, S M.D. Jennings

Notes: Jolly and Pickett remain on the market and candidates to return to Green Bay. Of the two, Jolley seems more likely, but B.J. Raji is being moved back inside upon Peppers' arrival, and Mike Daniels and Mike Neal were re-signed as Dom Capers goes all "Seahawks" with his different looks, much like Mel Tucker will. It appears as though Dietrich-Smith will be replaced with last year's 4th round pick, J.C. Tretter, who missed all of last season with an injury. Jarrett Boykin figures to replace Jones. Green Bay could have its eye on Eric Ebron to replace Finley if he falls to 21, or HaHa Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor as a big upgrade to replace Jennings, should either fall that far.

Detroit Lions

In: DT Corvey Irvin, WR Golden Tate, DE Darryl Tapp, S James Ihedigbo, QB Dan Orlovsky

Out: DE/DT Israel Idonije, WR Nate Burleson, DE Willie Young, S Louis Delmas

Notes: Irvin for Idonije is a wash...Both saw limited action last season, and if Irvin couldn't get onto the field regularly for that porous Dallas defense, it says something, despite being younger than Idonije. They allowed Young to walk (eventually to the Bears) in order to open up full-time snaps for Ziggy Ansah, last year's top draft pick, who still led them in sacks as a rookie. Tapp brings an experienced backup but didn't get regular rotation time in Washington. When Delmas was healthy, he was a better player than Ihedigbo, but the former Raven is able to stay on the field. Tate for "Pizza Man" Burleson is an upgrade, and there are some who believe the Lions just might take Texas A & M's Mike Evans if he's still on the board at 10 to provide a Marshall/Jeffery-type matchup problem with Megatron.

[RELATED: Are the Bears now the team to beat in the NFC North?]

Minnesota Vikings

In: CB Captain Munnerlyn, DT Linval Joseph, LB Jasper Brinkley, DE Corey Wootton, DT Tim Johnson, G Vladimir Ducasse

Out: CB Chris Cook, DT Letroy Guion, LB Erin Henderson, DE Jared Allen, TE John Carlson

Notes: New Head Coach Mike Zimmer had the tough decision make as he turns over his defense to a style similar to what we saw in Cincinnati — and at the forefront was to value Corey Wootton more than Jared Allen (pricetag and age a factor, too).  Joseph-for-Guoin is a wash, but Guoin goes to a division rival, just like Allen did. The biggest upgrade is Munnerlyn-for-Cook at corner, but there are some who believe Captain earned his stripes (4 interception return touchdowns the past two seasons) as a result of the Carolina defense around him. He'll start opposite one of last year's first-rounders, Xavier Rhodes, while sophomore Sharif Floyd slowly evolves into the great Kevin Williams' replacement. Brinkley, who spent his first four seasons in Minni before becoming a backup in Arizona, returns to familiar territory to take over for the troubled Erin Henderson.