For entertainment purposes, you can watch all of the games this fall and winter and wait to see what happens, but the NFC North may be decided this summer, as perhaps the division's two best players decide if and where they want to play.
Aaron Rodgers and Danielle Hunter do not seem eager to join their teammates this summer, and both are jousting with organizations that have proved they are willing to jettison stars. As the next round of practices for both teams begin on Tuesday, what will matter most is who is not there.
If Rodgers returns to the Green Bay Packers, they will be the favorites to win the division again.
If Rodgers doesn't return and Danielle Hunter plays for the Vikings, the Vikings will become the favorites.
If neither stays, the Chicago Bears could become the team to fear, especially if rookie quarterback Justin Fields quickly gets up to speed.
NFL players generally do not have the bargaining power of NBA stars, who form and reform their league according to their whims and friendships. Rodgers and Hunter may be trying to change that. The question is whether the Packers and Vikings will treat them the way NFL teams traditionally treat stars, or whether Rodgers and Hunter could alter the league's power dynamic.
For both Rodgers and Hunter, logic would dictate that they play this season with their current teams, but logic seems to be taking the summer off.
Rodgers is the league's reigning MVP. As Packers president Mark Murphy said in remarkably frank terms last week, the Packers, whatever you think of their recent high draft choices, have built a powerhouse around Rodgers. The Packers are 26-6 the past two regular seasons, have played in consecutive NFC title games, and probably should have beaten Tampa Bay to advance to the Super Bowl last year.
This does not seem to be the right time and place for a rift between the star quarterback and the team, but Rodgers has always been known to be stubborn and prideful, and he never seems to have gotten over the Packers drafting Jordan Love without notifying him of their intentions.
What's most interesting about Rodgers is that so many levelheaded analysts are saying that they see him leaving Green Bay, although the scenarios differ. Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt thinks he'll be traded, just not this year. ESPN reporter Rob Demovsky doesn't expect Rodgers to play for the Packers again, saying that Rodgers' stance seems entrenched.
ESPN reporter Kevin Seifert, who covered the Vikings for the Star Tribune and has done a number of insightful pieces on Rodgers over the years, thinks Rodgers could retire. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Tom Silverstein, a veteran on the Packers beat, doesn't see a path toward guaranteeing the rest of Rodgers' contract, which might be the price of keeping him happy.
These aren't hot takes. These are measured views of Rodgers' mind-set and predicament.
There is an obvious precedent here. The Packers were willing to move on from Brett Favre when he was still their franchise quarterback.
There is precedent for the Vikings ditching their stars, as well. The Vikings have traded Randy Moss, Percy Harvin and Stefon Diggs. Hunter has a less-combustible personality than that receiving trio, yet he has avoided showing up in Eagan this summer and has not communicated publicly the nature of his discontentment.
As willing as the Vikings have been to trade standout receivers, Hunter is different. He plays perhaps the second-most important position in the NFL and has never caused problems within the building. Moss, Harvin and Diggs gave the Vikings little choice but to trade them. Hunter has done nothing overt to force the Vikings' hand yet, other than avoid offseason workouts.
Hunter's dispute is simple: He's a record-breaking pass-rusher who is making about half of what the Chargers' Joey Bosa, another excellent end, is making.
What is strange about Rodgers' situation is that he seems willing to walk away from a championship-caliber team. What is strange about Hunter's situation is that he seems to want his salary doubled before proving that he is fully recovered from neck surgery.
They are two of the most entertaining players in the league and we should hope to see Hunter chasing Rodgers on frozen tundra and heated turf. But their stances are ominous, and could change the balance of power in the NFC North.
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. email@example.com.