Roster turnover for every NFC North team

Which teams in the NFC North have to replace the highest percentage of snaps from last season? Full breakdown here.

| 11 months ago
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Roster turnover for every NFC North team

Returning for the 2016 season, PFF’s snaps lost series takes a detailed look at the playing time void created by players who have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left via free agency, or retired.

Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we will be looking at what percentage of each teams’ total snaps are in need of replacement, rather than raw snap-count totals. Each team will have a ranking following their percentage of snaps lost, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.

A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:

  • Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2016 snap counts are not considered.
  • “Biggest losses” are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
  • All snap counts are regular-season only.

With those qualifiers in mind, let’s first dive into the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Overall snaps lost: 29.41 percent, 27th-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 23.55 percent, 14th)

Offensive snaps lost: 36.55 percent, 29th (2015: 24.23 percent, 16th)

Biggest losses: OL Matt Slauson (1,104), G Vladimir Ducasse (764), TE Martellus Bennett (740), G Patrick Omameh (679), RB Matt Forte (612)

The Bears have experienced quite the exodus on offense, losing five major contributors this offseason. Slauson put together an excellent 2015 campaign, despite flipping between center and guard all year, but could muster only a modest contract with the Chargers this offseason. Ducasse is coming off his third-straight negatively-graded season, and as such, will be competing for a starting spot in Baltimore. Bennett was traded to the Patriots after falling out of favor with the front office. Joining his third team in as many seasons, Omameh will be providing Jacksonville with depth along their interior line. And finally, Forte is on the wrong side of 30, so the Bears allowed him to walk after eight productive seasons in the Windy City; he’ll be part of the Jets’ running back rotation in 2016.

Replacement plan: Chicago dipped into the free-agent market to compensate for its offensive-line losses, signing Amini Silatolu (Panthers), Bobby Massie (Cardinals), and Ted Larsen (Cardinals). Second-round pick Cody Whitehair (Kansas State) will also figure into the mix, so between those four, they should be able to make up for the losses on the line. Bennett’s departure will make Zach Miller the top tight end, with either Khari Lee or Rob Housler finding the field in two-TE sets. Jeremy Langford was the No. 2 back behind Forte last year, so he will likely start this year, with Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers, and fifth-round pick Jordan Howard (Indiana) as alternates.

Defensive snaps lost: 22.26 percent, ninth (2015: 22.87 percent, 12th)

Biggest losses: ILB Shea McClellin (687), DE Jarvis Jenkins (646), S Antrel Rolle (398)

After spending four lackluster seasons with the Bears, McClellin signed with the Patriots in hopes of rejuvenating his career. The Jets reeled in Jenkins after one year in Chicago, in which he accumulated a heavily negative grade. Turning 34 this season, interest in Rolle has been lukewarm after the Bears cut him in May, and he’s currently awaiting a contract offer.

Replacement plan: Danny Trevathan (Broncos) and Jerrell Freeman (Colts) should massively upgrade the inside linebacker position after the Bears have struggled to find competency in that area since Brian Urlacher retired. Chris Prosinski had a respectable 2015 campaign, and could start opposite Adrian Amos, with fourth-rounder Deon Bush (University of Miami) waiting in the wings. Jenkins was the only defensive lineman to top 530 snaps this year, so modest increases for guys like Eddie Goldman and Mitch Unrein could alleviate that issue, and the addition of Akiem Hicks from New England and Jonathan Bullard (Florida) in the third round will ensure that there’s no shortage of available defensive linemen.

Detroit Lions

Overall snaps lost: 29.51 percent, 28th (2015: 25.88 percent, 19th)

Offensive snaps lost: 23.03 percent, 24th (2015: 25.49 percent, 20th)

Biggest losses: WR Calvin Johnson (1,023), WR Lance Moore (590), OL Manuel Ramirez (502), OT LaAdrian Waddle (377)

Megatron’s retirement was a surprise for most, but Johnson cited health as his primary reason for stepping away from the game. Moore has bounced around the league over the last couple of years and hasn’t found a suitor since his contract with the Lions expired in March. Ramirez retired despite a strong season rotating along the interior. He graded positively in both 2013 and 2014, but Waddle turned in a disastrous grade in just nine games last season, forcing the Lions cut him loose in December.

Replacement plan: First-round pick Taylor Decker (Ohio State) will almost certainly provide an upgrade over Waddle, even if he exhibits growing pains in his rookie year. Ramirez was a fill-in and won’t be missed too much, as long as Larry Warford and others can stay healthy. The Lions brought in Marvin Jones (Bengals) to help relieve their depleted receiving corps, and along with the recent signing of Anquan Boldin (49ers), Detroit should have their playing time covered—even if those two don’t quite match the production of Johnson.

Defensive snaps lost: 35.99 percent, 30th (2015: 26.26 percent, 16th)

Biggest losses: LB Stephen Tulloch (737), S James Ihedigbo (604), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (584), DE Jason Jones (556), CB Rashean Mathis (445), DE Darryl Tapp (419)

Tulloch’s five-year stint in Detroit was cut short when the vet was released this past month. Safeties Ihedigbo and Abdul-Quddus were both allowed to leave in free agency, the former awaiting employment while the latter found a one-year deal with the Dolphins. Jones has been a solid rotational player during his time with the Lions, and joined Abdul-Quddus in Miami. Mathis put forth some strong seasons despite his advancing age, but the soon-to-be 36-year-old decided to retire after 13 seasons with the Jaguars and Lions. A journeyman defensive end, Tapp signed with New Orleans after two seasons in Detroit.

Replacement plan: Wallace Gilberry was brought in from Cincinnati and should see significant time at end, while both Ziggy Ansah and Devin Taylor could see modest bumps in their playing time. DeAndre Levy was an excellent linebacker before a hip injury cut his 2015 season tragically short, and if he can return to full strength, he should help ease the loss of Tulloch. The Lions signed former Patriot Tavon Wilson to a cheap, two-year deal, and he could end up manning the vacated safety spot next to Glover Quin. A sixth-round pick in 2015, Quandre Diggs vastly outperformed his draft status as a rookie, and could be set for a bigger role after earning a positive grade in 484 snaps last season. 

Green Bay Packers

Overall snaps lost: 17.71 percent, seventh (2015: 14.14 percent, first)

Offensive snaps lost: 11.69 percent, eighth (2015: 4.61 percent, first)

Biggest losses: WR James Jones (1,063), FB John Kuhn (307)

Once again one of the better teams at retaining their own, the Packers will return the vast majority of their offense for the second year in a row. Jones was signed as an emergency measure after Jordy Nelson tore his ACL last season, and as such, isn’t in the Packers’ long-term plans. Fan-favorite Kuhn’s nine-year run with Green Bay appears to be at its end, as the soon to be 34-year-old fullback has not been re-signed.

Replacement plan: Nelson is an every-down player when healthy, and is expected to be good to go in Week 1. A 2015 sixth-round pick, FB Aaron Ripkowski is slated to pick up the lead-blocking duties for Kuhn.

Defensive snaps lost: 23.73 percent, 15th (2015: 23.66 percent, 13th)

Biggest losses: CB Casey Hayward (933), OLB Mike Neal (750), LB Nate Palmer (550), NT B.J. Raji (457)

The Packers’ depth at cornerback made Hayward expendable, and he received a well-earned deal with the Chargers. Neal was allowed to walk after six fairly anonymous years in Green Bay, and has drawn little interest as a free agent. Palmer struggled last year at inside linebacker and was waived in April. Raji surprised the Packers with a retirement months before he turned 30, and while he hasn’t shut the door on returning, he will not play in 2016.

Replacement plan: Sophomores Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins will both see a bump in playing time, as could Sam Shields if he can stay healthy. Randall led the three with 771 (72 percent) snaps last season. If the Packers can kick Clay Matthews back to the outside, he’ll replace Neal’s snaps and provide an upgrade, though that will vacate more playing time at inside linebacker. A 2015 fourth-round pick, Jake Ryan will compete with 2016 fourth-rounder Blake Martinez (Stanford) at inside backer. Sam Barrington, who played just 16 snaps last season before a foot injury landed him on the injured-reserve list, will be the front-runner for the other ILB position. First-rounder Kenny Clark (UCLA) provides the Packers with a big body up front to replace Raji.

Minnesota Vikings

Overall snaps lost: 5.17 percent, first (2015: 14.90 percent, second)

Offensive snaps lost: 6.68 percent, second (2015: 23.69 percent, 15th)

Biggest losses: WR Mike Wallace (763)

Like the Packers, the Vikings retained nearly their entire offense in consecutive seasons. Wallace never really got on the same page as Teddy Bridgewater, and was cut one year after Minnesota traded for him.

Replacement plan: The Vikings aren’t short on options to replace Wallace’s playing time, getting right to it in the draft by selecting Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) in the first round. Should Treadwell start slowly, both Stephon Diggs and Jarius Wright could see a few hundred more snaps than they did last season.

Defensive snaps lost: 3.65 percent, second (2015: 6.12 percent, second)

Biggest losses: S Robert Blanton (236), ILB Gerald Hodges (154)

Blanton will be competing for a starting spot in Buffalo after four years with the Vikings. Hodges was traded to the 49ers early last season, and will compete for playing time opposite NaVorro Bowman.

Replacement plan: Neither Blanton or Hodges were starters—or even rotational players—as most of their playing time came when others went down. Good health among Minnesota’s safeties and linebackers will make both of these losses negligible.

  • Craig W.

    The Vikings are primed to make a huge improvement. If the O-line is average to above average this team will be hard to beat. They won the division last year with a terrible o-line that lost two starters before the season started. I haven’t been this excited about a season in a long time. I think Diggs and Johnson are the two “starters” at WR and Treadwell comes in for the three wide sets and redzone. You’ll see some Patterson and Theilen mixed in. Jarius Wright seems to be the one getting fazed out unless there is an injury.

    • Mark Briggs

      I’m very surprised with how many people think the Minnesota Vikings are going to improve off last year’s unexpected good season. In fact I think the Vikings are easily the most overrated team in the NFL coming into the year right now. We’ve seen this too many times to count in the past, a team overachieves one year getting lots of fumble luck on defense (Vikings last year) and has a below average QB and then the following year they fall back down to mediocre status or even worse.

      This is a team on offense that has no real passing game and in today’s NFL that’s hard to overcome. They are also led by a 31 year-old AP, a guy who really started to show his age last year down the stretch as he rushed for more than 70 yards or had above a 3.5 YPC in only one of his last six games in 2015. Very few RB his age have decent seasons and there’s been almost been zero the last 50 years doing so at age 32. Bridgewater can’t win games on his own as he’s only had 3 300+ games out of 30 in his career. He has ranked in the bottom 30% of NFL starting QB’s in each of his first two seasons at Football Outsiders but because the Vikings won a little bit last year his play is being accepted as good when it’s not been.

      There’s also this perception that the Vikings were really good defensively last season but that’s not really the case, in fact they were just mediocre on defense. They did one thing well, held teams to lower point totals but there were lots of reasons for that. They also gave average amount of yards, yards per drive and yards per play also but they were helped out by good special teams. The reason they were able to hold teams down scoring wise was their red zone defense BUT red zone defense isn’t a reliable stat and has a high variance from year to year. They’ve also have been awful defending the run for last few years. They also caught lots of injury breaks last year being one of the least injured defenses in NFL but what makes that odd was their defense was also one of the top five oldest in NFL last season and with mostly all of those same guys back, a year older this year which probably means there’s a good chance the injury luck doesn’t return this season.

      The last time the Vikings went from back to back losing seasons to a winning year was 2010-2012 when they went from 6 to 3 to 10 wins BUT following that big 10 win year they fell right back down to 5 wins the following season and so goes life in the NFL for a team with a below average passing QB. We are seeing this same pattern emerge over the last 3 seasons with 5 wins to 7 wins then the big jump to 11 wins last year and now this year will be the typical nosedive. These type of teams just can’t sustain success and over time the lucky breaks end up leveling off after a larger sample size. Little doubt Vikings are in this group of NFL teams.

      • enai D

        Their schedule got easier, they lost pretty much no one while adding key players at a couple of positions of weakness (offensive linemen via FA, Treadwell in the draft), and have a very, very young roster. Oh, and the division didn’t get appreciably stronger. So, no real factual basis for projecting a regression- if you project them to be worse this year, you’re basically banking on major injuries or some other flukiness.

        BTW, preventing other teams from scoring is sort of the whole point of playing defense. But the Vikings were also very good in other areas (perhaps most notably 5th best in red zone and 4th best on 3rd down). “Mediocre”? Only in La La Land.

        • cka2nd

          On defense, I absolutely think that enai D is correct, although I will concede to Mr. Briggs that the Vikings run defense could and should be better. One thing to point out though, is the depth that the team now has at corner, on the DL, and even at LB, where Chad Greenway will, hopefully, see another dip in his snap count.

          On the other hand, the offense is still a big question mark. Yes, the team brought in free agents on the OL, but there’s no change at LT and neither Boone nor Smith are particularly noted for their pass blocking, so even with a better receiving corps, Bridgewater may still be under a lot of pressure this year. I’m less worried about running back because the depth is good there, too, from exciting and promising (McKinnon) to surprisingly serviceable (Asiata) and deserving of more touches (Line).

          The Vikings have traditionally been one of the most competitive teams in the league and seem to have hit on their best head coach since the late Dennis Green. They should compete for the division title this year and, unless Bridgewater really is a bust, for all of the marbles in 2017.

          • enai D

            Yeah the OL definitely took a hit with Loadholt retiring and Harris having his undisclosed head injury, but it will still be better; even if Boone plays at his 2015 level (instead of the level from earlier in his career) he’s still a substantial upgrade at LG, getting John Sullivan back is always going to be a win, and there’s no way Andre Smith is any worse than TJ Clemmings. And the suggestion that the Vikings defense was “mediocre” is simply ludicrous and non-factual- nothing more needs to be said.

            Honestly, with the offense my biggest concern is probably playcalling and scheme- the OL will be better, the receiver play will be better (losing Wallace is almost addition by subtraction, quite apart from adding Treadwell or Diggs having a year under his belt), and anyone who actually watches Vikings games knows Bridgewater is significantly better than the boxscore scouting noobs will tell you- the question is can Norv convince himself to call plays that suit his personnel, instead of his own schematic preferences? And can they find a happy medium between Bridgewater’s preference/superiority in the shotgun vs. Adrian’s preference/superiority in traditional under-center alignment.

          • enai D

            Good point about the depth though, too- Tom Johnson would start at DT for about 30 other NFL teams. Danielle Hunter is an emerging stud (this new pass-rush lineup we’ve seen in camp where Robison moves inside to DT with Griffen and Hunter on the edges should be downright scary). Trae Waynes well may take over Terrance Newman’s starting CB spot, but Alexander now moves into that rookie understudy role, and Munnerlyn is still a stud slot corner. They even have better depth at linebacker this year with the addition of FA Lamur and rookie Kentrell Brothers (and we can’t forget that OMGAUDIECOLE is still back there).

          • cka2nd

            Johnson is a heck of a rotational pass rusher but has never been an every down starter. Robison moved inside to tackle on passing downs last year as he has for the better part of his career; in the past, it was Jared Allen at RDE and Griffen stepping in at LDE. Brothers sounds like he could be the starting MLB no later than 2017, especially if Lamur is only a stopgap starter.

            I agree that Turner’s play calling was uninspired and predictable last year. I’ve been dating myself by comparing it to the Jet’s Joe Walton back in the 80’s, where every series of downs seemed to start with a running play. I’m not sure if Turner is trying to force Bridgewater into his system or not, and any NFL QB worth his salt needs to learn to play under center, but mixing up the plays is definitely something I would like to see.

    • Jenniferehager2

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