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NFC North Trade Deadline Roundup: 3 other teams make waves, Packers stand pat

T.J. Hockenson moved within the division while the Bears added a big body at wide receiver.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The NFL’s 2022 trade deadline has come and gone and the Green Bay Packers did not make any moves. Plenty of reports suggested that the team was in conversations — like clockwork, a tweet from Ian Rapoport shortly after the deadline said that they “tried” to make some deals — but ultimately they could not or did not acquire or trade away any players.

Predictably, the inaction has been met with disappointment by large swaths of Packers fans, but the fact of the matter remains that now the team must improve from within if it hopes to bounce back from a 3-5 start and find a path into the postseason.

On the other hand, the team’s three divisional rivals all made splash moves, with two of them working together for a big trade. The Lions sent an impressive young player to the contending Vikings for picks, while the Bears were, oddly, both sellers and buyers over the past 36 hours.

With the Packers standing pat, here’s a look at what went down across the rest of the division.

Minnesota Vikings (6-1)

Week 8: won vs. Cardinals 34-26
Week 9: at Commanders

  • Traded 2023 R2 pick & 2024 R3 pick to Lions for TE T.J. Hockenson, 2023 R4 pick, & conditional 2024 R4 pick

The Vikings get a tight end to add to their room, which just saw starter Irv Smith, Jr. go down with an injury. Smith is expected to miss 8-10 weeks (there are 10 weeks left in the regular season, for those counting), and Hockenson immediately steps in as a no-brainer TE1. The Vikings will get one and a half seasons of Hockenson, who will play in 2023 on his rookie fifth-year option for about $9.4 million.

Detroit Lions (1-6)

Week 8: lost to Miami Dolphins 31-27
Week 9: vs. Packers

  • Traded TE T.J. Hockenson, 2023 R4 pick, & conditional 2024 R4 pick to Vikings for 2023 R2 pick & 2024 R3 pick

As for the same trade from the Lions’ perspective, they clearly don’t expect to be contending this year or next year and it appears that they did not have a plan to extend Hockenson beyond his rookie contract. As a result, they’ll manage to snag a second-round pick in the spring (likely in the 50s given the Vikings’ current record) and upgrade from a 4th-rounder to a 3rd in 2024.

Chicago Bears (3-5)

Week 8: lost at Cowboys 49-29
Week 9: vs. Dolphins

  • Traded LB Roquan Smith to Ravens for LB A.J. Klein, 2023 R2 pick, & 2023 R5 pick
  • Traded 2023 R2 pick to Steelers for WR Chase Claypool

While the other two teams in the division traded with one another, the Bears spun off linebacker Roquan Smith to Baltimore. That trade made sense — the current Chicago regime under new GM Ryan Poles let Smith hold out for a new contract all summer before he caved and received no new deal. With the team clearly not planning to re-sign him they’ll get a nice pair of picks, including a top-60 selection, plus another body to help fill in for the departed linebacker.

The Bears then turned around and traded a second-round pick — their own, reportedly, rather than the one they acquired from Baltimore — to Pittsburgh for Claypool, who has fallen down the Steelers’ depth chart. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Claypool will be a massive target for Justin Fields. He’s also a great athlete, but he has an average of just 9.7 yards per catch this season, a huge dropoff from 14.6 in 2021 and 14.1 as a rookie.

If Fields’ arm strength can get him the ball on deep routes more consistently, this could be a nice addition for the Bears, but they’re still a long way away from contending in the NFC. Plus, Claypool has recorded a negative receiving DVOA in every season so far in his NFL career, ranking 45th out of 59 qualifying receivers this year, 63rd out of 91 in 2021, and 58th out of 87 as a rookie in 2020. Fundamentally, he has not yet been a good NFL receiver, so the second-round price tag feels very steep.

Interestingly, however, the Packers were reportedly in the conversation for Claypool. Here’s a report from Josina Anderson:

Given the Bears’ offer, however, it’s tough to blame Brian Gutekunst for not out-bidding Poles, especially since Chicago is likely seen to be a worse team than the Packers in 2022, making their picks more valuable. Even if the Packers were willing to go to a second-rounder, they probably would have needed to throw in another pick to exceed that Bears offer.