NFC North 2017 defensive backs offseason outlook
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The secondary has become one of the most important position groups on NFL rosters. Teams that get good cornerback play succeed while those that don’t can be doomed by it. When the opposing team is having their way through the air, very few teams can find a way to win.

Chicago Bears could use help, but not as much as other positions on the roster

Once again, the Chicago Bears had their fair share of injuries in this position group. Kyle Fuller was considered their best, but he missed the entire 2016 season after having having a knee scope in August. He said right after the team placed him on injured reserve in December that his body was telling him he couldn’t play. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said that he was medically cleared. At the time there was speculation that his time with the Bears could be over.

They used a lot of different first and second-year players in the secondary in 2016. They got mixed results from those young players. They have players with the potential to be a solid secondary.

They may want to grab a veteran with a proven track record. There will not likely be many of them on the market, but even if they are a depth add, it may be worth it for the Bears. Some names that would make sense are Terence Newman (Minnesota Vikings), Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys), Logan Ryan (New England Patriots), Captain Munnerlyn (Vikings), Brandon Carr (Cowboys), Dre Kirkpatrick (Cincinnati Bengals), Micah Hyde (Green Bay Packers) and Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills) at cornerback and Barry Church (Cowboys), Jahleel Addae (Chargers), Bradley McDougald (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), T.J. McDonald (Los Angeles Rams) and Duron Harmon (Patriots) at safety.

On the roster: Adrian Amos, De’Vante Bausby, Deon Bush, Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Jacoby Glenn, Deiondre’ Hall, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Harold Jones-Quartey, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Sherrick McManis, Tracy Porter, Rashaad Reynolds

Free agents: Johnathan Banks, Brandon Boykin, Demontre Hurst, Chris Prosinski

Need level: Medium

Detroit Lions have quality, but lack reliable depth

The Detroit Lions have one of the most underrated cornerbacks in Darius Slay. They now need to find the starter opposite him. Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson did some good things. Both could be the answer, but several of the names mentioned above for the Bears on free agency could be very good additions for the Lions as well. The new saying in the NFL is that you cannot have enough cornerbacks. It is true. Teams need to have at least three outside cornerbacks as well as two slot cornerbacks.

At safety Glover Quin, Miles Killebrew and Tavon Wilson were a quality trio. They need one more for comfort, but it is not a high-priority. The preference should be to add a backup free safety.

On the roster: Johnson Bademosi, Adairius Barnes, Don Carey, Alex Carter, Quandre Diggs, Miles Killebrew, Nevin Lawson, Rolan Milligan, Glover Quin, Darius Slay, Charles Washington, Ian Wells, Tavon Wilson

Free agents: Rafael Bush, Crezdon Butler, Asa Jackson

Need level: Medium

Green Bay Packers desperately need help in the secondary

The Green Bay Packers need cornerbacks as badly as the Minnesota Vikings need offensive linemen. Both position groups became each team’s demise. The Vikings couldn’t get things going on offense because they couldn’t block and the Packers couldn’t defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs because they couldn’t stop the Super Bowl runners-up.

The Packers have signed just one free agent of significance in recent seasons. This year, they have to make some sort of splash before the draft at cornerback. Their usual stand-pat philosophy just won’t help fix this problem. Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter showed moments of promise in their first two seasons in the NFL. However, each of them has been inconsistent with their play and injuries.

The Packers also need depth at safety. Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix are fine starters, but their backups are entering their second or third years in the league with little success.

On the roster: Kentrell Brice, Morgan Burnett, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Makinton Dorleant, Marwin Evans, Demetri Goodson, LaDarius Gunter, Josh Hawkins, Demarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Jermaine Whitehead

Free agents: Micah Hyde

Need level: Very High

Minnesota Vikings need DBs with numbers dwindling

The Minnesota Vikings have two important cornerbacks scheduled to become free agents in a few weeks. Terence Newman had a very good year at 38-years-old last season and Captain Munnerlyn blossomed into one of the best slot corners in the league. Both are set to become unrestricted free agents.

The Vikings will want to re-sign Munnerlyn as Mackensie Alexander does not look ready to take over the reigns. Alexander, entering his second season, struggled to adjust to the difference in physicality from the college-game to the pros.

Newman, on the other hand, does not have to be re-signed. Trae Waynes is ready to take over the starting cornerbacks spot opposite Xavier Rhodes. The problem will be depth. Alexander, despite being a smaller cornerback, can be one reserve on the outside, but the other reserve spots are up-for-grabs. Jabari Price has an off-field issue and some injuries in his past. The coaching staff really likes his potential, but he has played three years in the NFL without making more than a marginal impact.

At the safety positions, the Vikings have built a quality two-deep rotation among the two spots. Harrison Smith is still the star with Andrew Sendejo providing good reps and youngsters Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse showing the potential to be starters. The issue for the Vikings is that they have to find out who is the best player to play the majority of the snaps with Smith. Harris or Kearse have to separate from the other and take the starting role and make Sendejo more of a special teams player and occasional contributor on defense. Sendejo’s best is leading the special teams units.

On the roster: Mackensie Alexander, Antone Exum Jr., Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Jabari Price, Xavier Rhodes, Tre Roberson, Andrew Sendejo, Marcus Sherels, Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes

Free agents: Captain Munnerlyn, Terence Newman

Need level: Medium-Low