NFC North: Luke McCown
Most significant loss: Defensive end Willie Young was a productive player who often became overlooked because of the star power in the middle (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley) and the emergence of Ziggy Ansah at the other end. But Young is a long, rangy end who was good against the run and showed improvement. That he went to one of Detroit's top rivals, Chicago, adds to the significance because the Lions will see him at least twice a year.
Biggest surprise: That the Lions didn't make a bigger play earlier in the safety market. Like receiver on offense, safety is Detroit's biggest need on defense after the release of Louis Delmas. The team looked like it was interested in Chris Clemons and had reportedly expressed interest in T.J. Ward, but so far the only safety the team has brought in is James Ihedigbo. While Ihedigbo could fill a need if he signs, Detroit could have tried to make a bigger play here considering the market and the need. Unless the Lions draft one.
What's next: Solving the backup quarterback issue. The Lions need to have a veteran behind Matthew Stafford, and Kellen Moore just is not going to be a viable option there right now. Detroit, be it through re-signing Shaun Hill or signing someone like Luke McCown or Ryan Fitzpatrick, has to have a player with some experience ready to come in if Stafford were to get hurt. Detroit has too many other pieces to let that be an actual issue.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Check here for a full list of Green Bay’s player moves.
Biggest surprise: Brian Brohm was the 56th player taken in the 2008 draft, the third quarterback overall. For that reason alone it’s a shock the Packers have given up on him so quickly, despite another shaky preseason in which he finished with a passer rating of 54.5. He made some incremental progress this summer, and it’s possible the Packers will re-sign him to their practice squad Sunday. But it’s clear they were willing to risk losing him altogether. It’s a stunning fall for a player the Packers originally thought was polished and ready to immediately step in as the No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.
Second-biggest surprise: The Packers kept all three of their fullbacks while leaving their tailback depth pretty thin, at least for now. Fullbacks Korey Hall and John Kuhn are good special teams players, but doesn’t one make the other expendable? The Packers obviously don’t agree. They kept both players -- along with rookie fullback Quinn Johnson -- while waiving tailbacks Tyrell Sutton and Kregg Lumpkin. The decisions leave DeShawn Wynn as the only healthy backup behind starter Ryan Grant. (Brandon Jackson is recovering from an ankle injury.)
Third-biggest surprise: Veteran receiver Ruvell Martin was released in favor of first-year receiver Brett Swain. I’m guessing this was a special teams decision, as Swain was having some success on coverage teams this summer. But Martin has been a productive reserve over the past three seasons, and I didn’t hear too much about his roster spot being in jeopardy.
Fourth-biggest surprise: Safety Anthony Smith, signed to a free agent contract this offseason, was released. There have been suggestions he was pushing starter Atari Bigby. Not anymore. Neither of general manager Ted Thompson's veteran free agent pickups, Smith and center Duke Preston, made the final roster.
No-brainer: Placing defensive lineman Justin Harrell (back) on injured reserve was dramatic but needed to be done. The Packers have carried him on their 53-man roster for the past two years even though he has missed more games (19) than he has played in (13) because of various injuries. He wouldn’t have made it to training camp this year if he weren’t a first-round draft pick. It was time for the Packers to cut their losses.
What’s next: One way or the other, the Packers will have to address their quarterback depth. It might simply mean adding Brohm or a waiver claim to the practice squad. But it’s also possible the Packers will look elsewhere for depth behind Rodgers. In news reports, they have been linked to Tampa Bay’s Luke McCown; but it will likely take a draft pick to pry him away from the Buccaneers. Backup Matt Flynn has been limited by a shoulder injury, so from the outside it would seem risky to enter the season with Rodgers and Flynn as the only active quarterbacks.
Hi there. As we move into this fine Tuesday, I'll be working on a few projects that will limit the frequency of posting Tuesday morning and early afternoon. I expect to be back at full blogging strength by mid-afternoon. Please plan your day accordingly.
Among other tasks, I'll be searching out some of the blogroll information you requested after last week's post. To review, we have the ability to link to reference material or other areas of note along the right hand side of this blog. The list has slowly been growing. If you haven't already, let me know in the mailbag what you'd like to see. I'll accommodate as much as I can.
For now, let's take a quick tour through most of the NFC North:
- Former Green Bay linebacker George Koonce, a member of the Marquette athletic administration, is a candidate for the athletic director's job at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel considers Koonce's candidacy.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune notes the disappearance of two pending free agents from the market: New York Giants quarterback David Carr and Tampa Bay quarterback Luke McCown. Both fit the profile of the type of backup the Bears are looking for, although Chicago has most often been associated with Byron Leftwich and Chris Simms, two other free agents.
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com notes that Detroit quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper ($2.5 million) and Jon Kitna ($500,000) are due roster bonuses on Feb. 27.
- The Lions won't use their alternative black jerseys anymore, team president Tom Lewand confirmed to the Detroit News. Instead, they'll use their throwback jerseys when it comes time to use a third uniform style.