Eight in the Box: Under the radar

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
12:00
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NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each NFC North team thus far this offseason:

Chicago Bears: Sometimes it's the move you don't make that stands out. The Bears were in a tough spot with guard Lance Louis, who was having the best season of his career in 2012 when he tore an ACL. Unfortunately for both sides, the injury occurred in the final year of Louis' contract. It's generally not typical NFL practice to commit on a long-term contract to a player rehabilitating from an ACL injury. But Louis has a good-enough resume that another team thought it was worth taking a free-agent chance, and the Miami Dolphins offered a one-year deal worth $1.6 million. Louis' presumed replacement, Matt Slauson, will make about half of that total in 2013. We'll see whether the difference in performance between the two players, if any, is worth the cash and cap savings.

Detroit Lions: It's difficult to classify the return of safety Louis Delmas as an "under-the-radar" move, considering the success he has had the past four years when he's healthy. But the way the Lions went about the process reflected confidence and an understanding of the market. Knowing he had struggled to complete last season because of a knee injury, the Lions sat back as Delmas took two free-agent visits. The chances of another team making a lucrative offer to an oft-injured safety were not high. So after Delmas visited the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, the Lions signed him to a deal that will be lucrative only if he plays a full and healthy season in 2013.

Green Bay Packers: This isn't the most active time of year for general manager Ted Thompson, but at least one relatively quiet move bears continued inspection. Linebacker Brad Jones received a three-year contract that will pay him at least $4 million in 2013. That's a big total for a player who projects mostly as a special teams contributor unless starters are injured. It makes you wonder whether the Packers are concerned about the recoveries of one or more of the following linebackers: Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith and Nick Perry. If the Packers aren't planning for Jones to play regularly on defense in 2013, it's difficult to understand the contract figures.

Minnesota Vikings: Re-signing fullback Jerome Felton was all but a requirement after the impact he made on Adrian Peterson's historic 2012 season. As we've discussed, Peterson averaged about twice as many yards per carry out of a two-back set as he did when he ran without a lead blocker. Fullbacks aren't used by many teams and aren't heavily pursued in free agency, but the Vikings made sure to avoid a defection by giving Felton a $2 million signing bonus and total compensation of $3 million for 2013.

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