The concurrent news that the Vikings and Bears made in the past 50 minutes or so kind of tells you where the two teams are in their process to reach the top of the NFC North and legitimately contend for a Super Bowl title.
The Bears went into the start of the new league year with an elite QB -- finally -- in Jay Cutler and a team that needed a No. 1 receiver desperately. With all eyes focused on the Bears possibly adding Vincent Jackson via free agency, Chicago pulled a much more impressive move by virtually robbing the Dolphins of Brandon Marshall for two third-round draft picks. Marshall reunites with Cutler, whom he has a great relationship with.
Meanwhile, the Vikings re-signed backup defensive tackle Letroy Guion for three years. While that move obviously falls miles short of the Marshall trade, it's a good transaction for a team that much remain patient as it rebuilds with young players.
Guion showed a lot of promise in 2010 before taking a step back in 2011. But he's still a promising 24-year-old guy who has the skill to share snaps with a declining Kevin Williams and eventually replace Williams.
When judging free agency, it's important to keep an eye on a team's window of opportunity as much as its salary cap room. When the Vikings' window of opportunity was slim, they signed Brett Favre in 2009 and gave him a pay bump to return in 2010.
The Bears are now that team that feels its time is now. Meanwhile, Marshall's arrival in the NFC North further magnifies that the Vikings' No. 1 need is, without a doubt, cornerback.