The NFC North divisional race wasn’t very competitive in 2020, with the Packers taking the crown by five games and being in control for the duration of the season. Going into 2021, defending NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will be back but he remains in a public spat with the team. Chicago and Detroit have new QBs, but while Detroit has completely overhauled their team and offense in particular, Chicago has kept most of the supporting cast. Minnesota returns Kirk Cousins under center of an offense that also returns most of its key players, as changing the defense was the focus of the offseason. The Packers definitely appear to be the favorite, but the chaos surrounding Rodgers and star WR Davante Adams means nothing can be ruled out in this division for 2021.
Targets Retained: NFC South
Targets Retained: AFC South
Roster Moves through July 9th
Green Bay Packers
- Overall Targets Returning: 87.4% (438/501) (9th)
- WR Targets Returning: 95.5% (277/290) (7th)
- TE Targets Returning: 100% (115/115) (T-1st)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 56.5% (65/115) (25th)
With Rodgers’ future up in the air, Green Bay focused on retaining his supporting cast for the upcoming season, so Rodgers keeps the core of his supporting cast that helped him win the MVP award. This is assuming Davante Adams isn’t traded before or during the season, which isn’t impossible given his contract situation but definitely seems unlikely. If he stays, Tavon Austin and Darrius Shepherd are the only departing WRs with a target last season, and third-round pick Amari Rodgers seems likely to see at least their 13 targets, so replacing them will be no issue. The TE room remains very constant, as the top 4 TEs all return — led be Robert Tonyan, who became a favorite target for Rodgers last season, especially in the red zone. Jamaal Williams and Tyler Ervin depart, opening the door for A.J. Dillon to be the clear RB2 and seventh-round pick Kylin Hill to potentially take the RB3 spot. Overall, the offense should look quite similar because of how well it worked last season.
- Overall Targets Returning: 92.1% (549/596) (5th)
- WR Targets Returning: 91.7% (341/372) (8th)
- TE Targets Returning: 89.6% (121/135) (12th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 97.7% (86/88) (7th)
Chicago will have a new starting QB next season, with Mitch Trubisky departing and Justin Fields and Andy Dalton being the new additions. Whichever of the two gets the starting QB job will have the vast majority of last year’s Chicago targets as well as some solid additions. At WR, Chicago lost Cordarelle Patterson and Ted Ginn Jr., but the additions of Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin and Dazz Newsome will more than cover those losses and even means some returning players will likely lose some targets. Demetrius Harris departs at TE and wasn’t replaced, so that may be a spot where some of the new WRs can pick up some targets at the expense of the overall TE target share. Lastly, Tarik Cohen’s return from injury and the additions of Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams has significantly improved the depth behind David Montgomery in the Chicago backfield, but that much congestion means targets may be hard to come by.
- Overall Targets Returning: 91.3% (443/485) (6th)
- WR Targets Returning: 98.9% (282/285) (5th)
- TE Targets Returning: 65.4% (70/107) (22th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 97.8% (91/93) (6th)
The Minnesota Vikings return every key target from last season except for Kyle Rudolph, so this will be a very familiar offense. Tajae Sharpe and Mike Boone have also left the team, but with only 5 targets between them, that won’t be a big loss. In terms of additions, there are no major ones, with the draft selections of Kene Nwangwu (fourth round), Ihmir Smith-Marsette (fifth round) and Zach Davidson (fifth round) being the most notable. None of them project to have sizable roles in the offense, so it’ll likely be a very similar look to last season with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Irv Smith Jr. commanding the majority of the targets.
- Overall Targets Returning: 35.4% (199/562) (32nd)
- WR Targets Returning: 10.8% (35/324) (32nd)
- TE Targets Returning: 81.3% (104/128) (17th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 53.8% (57/106) (27th)
For the first time in a decade, the Detroit Lions are entering a season with a new starting QB, having traded Matt Stafford to the Rams after 12 seasons with the team. Jared Goff takes over as the starting QB and will have to deal with a completely overhauled WR group. They return the lowest percentage of targets from 2020 — nearly 18.5%. At the WR position alone, they lost Marvin Jones Jr., Kenny Golladay, Jamal Agnew, Mohamed Sanu, Danny Amendola and Marvin Hall. The only WR with a target in 2020 that is returning is Quintez Cephus, so it was a very thorough overhaul. They obviously needed to add to the position and they’ve definitely done so, signing Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond, Geronimo Allison and Chad Hansen, and drafting Amon-Ra St. Brown. Perriman, Williams and Cephus are initially projected to be the top 3 WRs but there is plenty of time for others to work their way into those spots. The RB room is also completely different with the exception of D’Andre Swift, and Jamaal Williams and Jermar Jefferson were added to fill in the depth there. At TE, Jesse James and Isaac Nauta departed, with Darren Fells added, but with T.J. Hockenson returning, this is definitely the area of the most stability for the Lions. It will be very interesting to see how this offense ends up replacing all the targets lost from 2020.