UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Lance Briggs, CB Charles Tillman, S Chris Conte, LB D.J. Williams, DT Stephen Paea, C Brian De La Puente, TE Dante Rosario, WR Josh Morgan, OT Eben Britton, K Jay Feely, LS Jeremy Cain, DE Austen Lane, S Danny McCray, CB Sherrick McManis, FB Montell Owens, DE Trevor Scott, LB Darryl Sharpton, S Anthony Walters.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
NEEDS: New GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox are facing such a big task it would be easier to list what the Bears don’t need. The Bears are switching to a 3-4 defense, hoping Fox and new coordinator Vic Fangio can help revive a unit that ranked among the worst in franchise history the past two years under Mel Tucker. Chicago allowed its two highest season scoring totals. The Bears need help on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the backfield. There are big questions on offense, too, specifically, the future of QB Jay Cutler. But it doesn’t end there. RB Matt Forte turns 30 in December, and there’s no obvious heir apparent on the roster. The same goes for the quarterback spot.
DETROIT LIONS (11-6)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, CB Rashean Mathis, G Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, T Corey Hilliard, CB Cassius Vaughn, DT C.J. Mosley, LB Ashlee Palmer, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, RB Jed Collins, TE Kellen Davis, DT Andre Fluellen, T Garrett Reynolds, CB Josh Thomas.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Josh Bynes, DE George Johnson, WR Jeremy Ross.
NEEDS: Suh’s status has been the big question for Detroit since the moment last season ended. Expect the Lions to be active if they lose him because they’d have money to spend and a significant hole to fill. Raiola won’t be back, and with Sims also a free agent, a makeover might be in order for a shaky offensive line. The Lions also could use a replacement for RB Reggie Bush, recently cut, although the draft could be a better opportunity to address that position.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-5)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: T Bryan Bulaga, CB Jarrett Bush, QB Matt Flynn, DT Letroy Guion, CB Davon House, FB John Kuhn, LB Jamari Lattimore, DT B.J. Raji, CB Tramon Williams.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OL Don Barclay, WR Jarrett Boykin, S Sean Richardson.
NEEDS: They hinge on whether Cobb returns. The fourth-year player might get more money elsewhere, but it’s doubtful he’ll find as good a situation as with QB Aaron Rodgers in his prime. If Cobb goes, the Packers might look for a veteran receiver. GM Ted Thompson espouses a draft-and-develop philosophy. Bringing Bulaga back would keep intact one of the best offensive lines the Packers have had during coach Mike McCarthy’s nine years. Green Bay needs run-stuffing inside linebackers after releasing veterans A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. At defensive tackle, Packers could be choosing between Raji, who had a biceps injury last season, and Guion. He played well last year but is working through off-field issues.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Joe Berger, MLB Jasper Brinkley, G Vlad Ducasse, FB Jerome Felton, DT Tom Johnson, LS Cullen Loeffler, QB Christian Ponder, DE Corey Wootton.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Matt Asiata, T Mike Harris.
NEEDS: MLB, G and SS are top of the list of starting spots that could be filled or upgraded. Backup QB is needed after agreement to trade Matt Cassel to Bills. Depth at receiver and cornerback could use a boost, too. After signing DT Linval Joseph and CB Captain Munnerlyn last year, the Vikings might be more patient and wait for bargains in the second wave. But if there’s a player that coach Mike Zimmer covets, they have salary cap space to be aggressive.
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