Often overshadowed by the NFC East, the NFC North is taken for granted in the NFL. With talent booming from all four corners, it isn't hard to overlook the signings and controversies that plague the division right now.
With Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit all vying for top spot in 2010, this years NFL Draft may prove more costly than it ever has. Quarterback issues, running back issues or plain and simple head coaching trouble, the NFC North isn't the division to fail in.
Here's a look at the Top 10 signings and speculations thus far this offseason, and why they could significantly change the outcome of the future.
For the Packers, the offensive line has been the butt end of too many jokes this offseason. With things beginning to grow solid toward the end of last season, the Packers offensive line still had some holes that more or less cost them an NFC Divisional Playoff appearance.
Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher resigned with Green Bay on Monday, and announced that he would remain in green and yellow through 2011. A small signing, but one that is significant to keep the Packers hopes alive.
As for the long time nose tackle Ryan Pickett, some Packer fans argue that his presence isn't needed. However, why sign a rookie when the Pack could have a key veteran? That wouldn't make sense.
Although these signings aren't headline grabbing attention seekers, they are small enough to keep the Packers in tact. Like I mentioned, Green Bay's offensively line was notorious for allowing pressure to new star quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2009, so Mark Tauscher is definitely needed.
It was unexpected to see Aaron Kampman ship off to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it was a move that may just save Jack Del Rio's head coaching career.
Instead of just analyzing why Green Bay will miss Kampman, it is also worth noting that the Vikings, Bears and Lions no longer have to worry about the defensive presence that stood opposite them. Sacks, heavy rushes and swatted balls are now the AFC South's problem.
The bottom line of this trade is that the Packers have gambled and lost, and Jacksonville has come up lucky. Green Bay's change to the 3-4 defense worked phenomenally from the get go last season, however without a leader type guy in Aaron Kampman to act as the glue, it may just fall apart at times in the future.
It's not like the Bears needed another running back with Matt Forte well and truly showing his dominance in 2009. However Chester Taylor now finds himself in the once rivaled arms of the Chicago Bears, and it is safe to say that his future may be the slightest bit intriguing in the windy city.
After rushing for only 338 yards last season with the Minnesota Vikings, Chester did have to share the playing field with the one and only Adrian Peterson. Not a key signing for Chicago, but one that could pay off in the long run.
Realistically it seems unlikely that Chester will see an excessive amount of hand offs in the early days with the Bears. However, Lovie Smith does like to mix it up a little, and should the occasion arise, a swap between Matt Forte and Chester Taylor could be the difference between a loss or a touchdown.
With a major in construction, the only building in which Ndamukong Suh looks to in his future is with a solid defensive line.
Detroit a leading the draft speculation at the moment for Suh, however there is the chance that St. Louis, Washington, Kansas City or Seattle may snap him up.
Like Aaron Kampman's departure from Green Bay, the NFC North does need to keep note of Suh's presence should he sign with Detroit. After watching him nearly single handily annihilate the Texas Longhorns last season, his defensive strength is definitely scary.
If this signing does go down, it doesn't exactly make Detroit the most sound defensive team in the league, but it does make them a standout. Sure Suh could enter the NFL and turn out to be a bust, but at the moment all teams must take into account where and when he will sign.
This speculation is well and truly over right now, but there was a period in time when fans were questioning Lovie Smith's coaching ability.
Kudos though to the loyal Chicago fans who stuck by their man, in the long run Chicago got Julius Peppers out of waiting. Although there was a time in which Lovie Smith was doubted, he has now redeemed himself, and the memories of the Super Bowl XLI appearance are beginning to come back.
Lovie seems secure now, but it could all plummet right back down again in five months time. If Chicago does have another dismal season in the NFC North it could be lights out for the Bears front man. For now though just sit tight, Lovie is doing a great job.
At the time this move seemed a likelihood, however the Jets were more persistent and in the long run Detroit may have missed the boat when it came to signing the former San Diego Charger.
Antonio Cromartie seemed quiet at times on his future, however many people speculated a possible move to Detroit was in the upcoming future.
With the Lions offense growing more and more solid, the defense was the only uncertainty. Unfortunately Cromartie made his mind up, and Detroit is now focusing on the draft.
Well there isn't much to say here really, but if Cromartie had become a Lion, things would have changed dramatically if Ndamukong Suh had also signed. From pathetic to great in the span of three months, the NFC North would be a scary place to be.
The mere though of Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson on the same team erupted a barrage of excitement and questioning more than a few days ago.
Fortunately for the NFC North, the move never happened and like Antonio Cromartie, the Jets snapped L.T up in an instant.
What if Tomlinson did sign with the Vikings though? Surely that would have made Minnesota the favorite in the NFC North right? Definitely.
Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Adrian Peterson and L.T? It somewhat resembles the 1990's Chicago Bulls. However the move was not to be, and the Vikings are now left playing the waiting game with Brett Favre. Another number 1 seed? We'll just have to wait and see.
As I just stated, the Vikings future with L.T would have been exciting. As a Packer fan I may have not even bothered with the 2010 season, but thinking about L.T in a Vikings uniform would have been just plain awesome.
Adrian Peterson is still around though, and he still isn't done doing what he does best. Running the football. Expect a big 2010 from All Day Peterson.
For non-Packer fans out there, you may find it hard to realize what a massive signing this really was for Green Bay. With Charles Woodson fresh off a defensive player of the year season, resigning his old time defensive buddy was key for the Packers future success.
Last season saw Nick take a total of six interceptions, which was impressive in it's own right. Some speculated and said that Green Bay should slap a franchise tag on Nick and see what offers come up, however fortunately Ted Thompson was smart enough to make the right move and resign the trusty safety.
One word, promising. Veteran defensive players and an exciting youth that is lead by Clay Matthews, puts the Packers among the best defensive teams in the league. Although Nick isn't the Packers true team leader, he is a quiet achiever that makes the big plays when necessary. Something that is key in a division with this type of talent.
So far little has happened in the world of Brett Favre. A guest spot on the Tonight Show and a quirky Super Bowl commercial is all that Brett has limited himself to so far.
However I get the slightest inkling that ole' number 4 wants to return, and see if he can give the Vikings one last shot at the glory game. I'm sure LaDainian Tomlinson would have been nice to have around for Favre, but as far as talent goes, the same 2009 Vikings remain.
With months remaining in the offseason, Brett will have to let everyone know what his decision is sooner rather than later. Retire or play, it's that simple. As for the Vikings, well if Brett comes back, of course it is smiles all round. However if he retires, some doubt may just set in, and the case of "Should we sign McNabb?" may arise once again.
You knew it was coming. The Julius Peppers signing shocked the not only the NFC North, but the entire league nearly a month ago.
10.5 sacks last season with the Panthers, was enough to convince the Chicago staff that Peppers would be a great asset to have. Lacking defensive pressure last season, Peppers hopes to give all remaining three teams of the NFC North a run for their money next season.
Smiling and confident, Peppers is raring to go.
Well to make it simple, it looks promising. Some will say that Green Bay has the better defense, while others will argue Chicago. Whichever way you go, there is no ignoring the fact that Chicago is looking better already.
Some pressure is on Jay Cutler to perform, however Peppers is also putting him at ease knowing that the defense is taken care of. Sacks and interceptions are a certainty next season, I can't wait to see him in action.