Bears’ rivals have bolstered their defenses

notesfromthenorth_031819

While the Bears have signed six players since the start of free agency last Wednesday, their NFC North rivals also have been active. Here’s a capsule look at the moves the Lions, Packers and Vikings have made since the beginning of the new league year:

DETROIT LIONS

Additions: WR Danny Amendola (Dolphins), CB Justin Coleman (Seahawks), DL Trey Flowers (Patriots), TE Jesse James (Steelers).

Subtractions: WR Bruce Ellington (Patriots).

Lions coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn had great success working with the Patriots and seem determined to bring former New England players to Detroit. The most notable this offseason has been Flowers, a talented pass rusher who recorded 7.0, 6.5 and 7.5 sacks the past three seasons with the Patriots.

Amendola and Coleman also played for New England before moving on to their most recent teams. Amendola spent five seasons with the Patriots from 2013-17 before starting all 15 games he played last year with the Dolphins, catching 59 passes for 575 yards and one touchdown. He is expected to play slot receiver in Detroit, complementing outside receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.

Coleman played for the Patriots in 2015-16 before spending the past two seasons with the Seahawks. He appeared in all 32 games with 10 starts with Seattle, registering 97 tackles, 19 pass breakups and three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The Lions reportedly made Coleman the highest-paid nickel back in the league.

James joins the Lions after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Steelers. He’s been a consistent contributor for Pittsburgh, catching 39 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 and following with 43-372-3 in 2017 and 30-423-2 in 2018.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Additions: S Adrian Amos (Bears), OLB Preston Smith (Redskins), OLB Za’Darius Smith (Ravens), OL Billy Turner (Broncos).

Subtractions: ILB Jake Ryan (Jaguars).

The Packers bolstered their defense in free agency by signing pass rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith and safety Adrian Amos.

Preston Smith spent his first four NFL seasons with the Redskins, excelling against both the run and pass. He played in all 64 games (and started all 48 contests the past three seasons), compiling 168 tackles, 24.5 sacks 13 pass breakups, four interceptions and four forced fumbles.

Za’Darius Smith joins the Packers after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens. He had a breakout 2018 campaign, establishing career highs with 45 tackles and 8.5 sacks.

Amos leaves the Bears for the Packers after appearing in 60 games with 56 starts in four seasons with the Bears, registering 274 tackles, 19 pass breakups, three interceptions and two sacks.

Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Amos will be part of a revamped Packers defense that lost Ryan to the Jaguars and cut linebacker Nick Perry this offseason, traded safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins last October and could lose outside linebacker Clay Matthews Jr, in free agency.

Turner could start at right guard for the Packers. He provides versatility, having started NFL games at four of the five offensive line positions (excluding center) in five seasons with the Dolphins (2014-16) and Broncos (2016-18).

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Additions: DT Shamar Stephen (Seahawks).

Subtractions: C Nick Easton (Saints), RB Latavius Murray (Saints), DT Sheldon Richardson (Browns).

The biggest move the Vikings have made in free agency was convincing linebacker Anthony Barr to re-sign with them one day after he had agreed to terms with the Jets. Barr called the experience “one of the worst days of my life.”

“I feel like I jumped and then 'Oh man, what did I just do?'” he said. “Instantly I just didn’t feel right about it. It’s my life, I have to live it. Nobody else has to. I should be able to make the choice whatever I wanted. I could change my mind 10 times if I want to. I don’t care what anybody has to say about that.

Barr was selected by the Vikings with the ninth pick in the first round of the 2014 draft out of UCLA. He has started all 71 games he’s played in five seasons with Minnesota, registering 338 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 30 tackles-for-loss, one interception, seven forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Barr, who turns 27 Monday, has been voted to the Pro Bowl each of the past four seasons.

Stephen, meanwhile, returns for a second stint with the Vikings. He spent his first four NFL seasons with Minnesota from 2014-17 before playing for the Seahawks last year.

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