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Free agent outlook for Bears' rivals


Detroit Lions

2015 record: 7-9

Top free agents: LB Stephen Tulloch, DE Jason Jones, DT Haloti Ngata

Biggest needs: The surprising retirement of All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson creates a major vacancy for the Lions. Detroit needs targets for quarterback Matthew Stafford, as Johnson has been the go-to guy in that offense for the past decade. Either in free agency or the draft, that position will have to be addressed by new general manager Bob Quinn. The Lions are also expected to look closely at upgrading their linebacking corps. Tulloch has been a phenomenal middle linebacker for Detroit since 2011, starting all 16 games and recording more than 100 tackles in four of five seasons. However, he's 31 and the team may opt to look for a younger alternative. Jones and Ngata were key players on the Detroit defensive line in 2015 after the team said goodbye to Ndamukong Suh, and those players also could be brought back, depending on the price.

Green Bay Packers

2015 record: 10-6

Top free agents: NT B.J. Raji, WR James Jones, CB Casey Hayward

Biggest needs: Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson has often made it a priority to retain his own players instead of signing outside free agents. While it remains to be seen if he'll take that approach again, there are some important players from the Green Bay defense that would be missed if they were not brought back. Raji is an anchor up front and Heyward is expected to be one of the most sought-after defensive backs throughout the NFL. Outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry are both free agents and each could draw some interest from teams looking for pass rush help. Thompson could also look to improve the offense around quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jones was a solid contributor last season, but the team could opt to go younger at that position. More depth at tight end and running back could also be areas the Packers look to upgrade.

Minnesota Vikings

2015 record: 11-5

Top free agents: LB Chad Greenway, CB Terence Newman, SS Robert Blanton

Biggest needs: Though the majority of their free agents are on defense, Minnesota expects to target offensive players once free agency begins. The Vikings need more playmakers heading into 2016, as they look for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to take the next step. In 2015, the Vikings ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per game, and they scored just nine points in a heartbreaking playoff loss to Seattle. Wide receiver is expected to be a position the Vikings will target; the team's leading receiver last season was rookie Stefon Diggs, but no other wideout on the team had more than 40 receptions. Better protection for Bridgewater will also be useful, as he was sacked 44 times a year ago, so an upgraded offensive line could be an area Minnesota will look at. On defense, veterans Greenway (33 years old) and Newman (37) will be considered, but the team may opt for younger players at those positions.

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