NFC North Buzz: Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins face climatic decisions, Jared Goff contract extension & more

Justin Fields and Kirk Cousins decisions will impact the NFC North.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Bears quarterback Justin Fields / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The fate of the NFC North will depend on two major decisions this offseason.  One is what will the Chicago Bears do with Justin Fields which will lead to what they do and who they choose with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.  The other decision the NFL will be watching is whether the Minnesota Vikings will be able to extend or re-sign veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins.

With those two teams in transition whichever direction they go, the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will be the heavyweights of the division and will use the NFL Draft and NFL free agency to strengthen their squads.  In all, the NFC North is shaping up to be a division to watch in 2024 so let’s look at what’s buzzing for the Bears, Vikings, Lions and Packers.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles adds some smoke to the Justin Fields rumors

Will the Bears trade Justin Fields and draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft or keep Fields and create chaos at the top of the draft?  Whatever Da Bears decide to do, general manager Ryan Poles will be in the spotlight.

With two top 10 picks, including the prize pick, Poles is in a position where it will be tough to screw up.  He does hold all the cards in this draft, including a young, top 15 quarterback like Fields who some quarterback needy team will be looking to acquire via deal.  While speculation has been running rampant, Poles is playing it coy, but also hinting that the team is keeping their ears open.

"It just depends on what opportunities pop up," Poles said when asked about a possible Fields trade at the NFL Combine. "... If we do go down that road, I want to do right by Justin as well. No one wants to live in gray. I know that's uncomfortable. I wouldn't want to be in that situation either.

"We'll gather the information. We'll move as quickly as possible. We're not gonna be in a rush and see what presents itself and what's best for the organization."

In my opinion, the Bears will trade Fields but will allow him to pick his destination.  Poles should be able to a high round pick for the Ohio State product.

Can the Vikings find a way to keep Kirk Cousins?

It’s highly unlikely that the Bears will trade Fields to an NFC North foe like the Vikings, so we won’t travel down that road of possibilities.  As one of those quarterback needy teams I mentioned, the Vikings can take care of business internally by finding a way to extend Kirk Cousins before he hits free agency or become a team in the mix for one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft or enter the Baker Mayfield sweepstakes if he enters free agency.

The high bet here is that the Vikings sign Cousins and still nab a quarterback in the draft.  With the 35-year-old quarterback coming off a torn Achilles, other teams interested may be hesitant to drive the price up, so it really is in the Vikings hands to extend Cousins if they believe he is their best option.  If Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell had his way, the checkbook will be open.

"Kirk Cousins knows how I feel about him. I've held no secrets there. He knows how the Minnesota Vikings feel about him. I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking, and we're going to work to try to make that the outcome,” O’Connell said, via Pro Football Talk.

“….I feel like we’re heading toward a good place with Kirk, but like we’ve seen, free agency and the uncertainties for this time of year, you’ve got to be ready in a leadership role to have contingency plans and adjust on the fly.”

What would be the Vikings contingency plan if they are not able to sign Cousins?  Whatever it is, it could impact whether the team holds onto or decide to trade star playmaker Justin Jefferson.  You have to believe if Cousins returns, the firepower around him will stay in place…at least that’s the hope if you are a Vikings fan.

Detroit Lions working on a Jared Goff long-term contract extension?

While NFL North teams like the Bears and Vikings are entering a potential quarterback carousel, the Lions are looking to make their quarterback a richer man.

Is Lions quarterback Jared Goff in for a big contract extension?
Lions QB Jared Goff / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

With a $5 million roster bonus due in a couple weeks, Lions quarterback Jared Goff could see a bigger bank coming his way.  With one year remaining on his current contract, Lions general manager Brad Holmes should be looking a head of locking up the veteran quarterback before he’s in a position like the Vikings are with Cousins.

When asked at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Holmes left the door open to working on a long-term contract for his quarterback and made it clear the roster bonus will not be a factor in any contract extension.

"We haven’t really weighed that into any of our decision making," Holmes said Tuesday at the NFL combine. "We’re in alignment in the direction that we want to proceed and again, like I told you before, once we have updates we’ll make sure you guys get it."

Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who has lauded Goff through the regular season and the playoffs, is obviously on board of an extension that could put Goff in the four-year, $200 million range.  The enthusiastic coach reiterated Goff “is a winning quarterback” when he was asked about long-term plans for his quarterback.  After a strong playoff run, looks like the Lions continue to be a team headed in the right direction and their QB is in position to be rewarded for it.

Packers likely to part ways with All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari

The Green Bay Packers are set at quarterback with Jordan Love, but the team is faced with a decision with one of the key players protecting him upfront.

With All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari recovering from knee surgery, the Packers will have to make a decision that could result in Bakhtiari becoming a cap casualty.  If that is the direction they go in, they won’t be able to afford to see how far Bakhtiari has come in his recovery.

When faced with this question at the NFL combine, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst revealed a decision will be made soon.

"We're not there yet, but we're getting there," Gutekunst said Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine, via ESPN. "This is that time of year where we're looking at everything, and those decisions will come pretty soon."

This is where we say, “it’s a business,” but for Bakhtiari, it is not the way he wants to go out.  If released, he will have a lot of interest in the free agent market and is determined to get back to the player he was before the ACL surgery.  The big question is whether he’s worth an investment for other teams around the league.  I guess we shall see.

Next. Justin Fields. Justin Fields Trade Rumors: Top 5 landing spots for Bears QB to have his breakout season. dark