The Packers are the team to beat in 2022. The Bears and Lions are eyeballing 2023. And your new Vikings regime has stuck itself somewhere in between as a team still giving full chase to the distant Packers in 2022 while staring down the probability of falling short and finding itself a year behind the rebuilds in Chicago and Detroit in 2023.

That's how things looked in the NFC North as the NFL blasted its way into the first weekend of the new league year at ear-splitting decibels that sent Russell Wilson from Seattle to Denver, Deshaun Watson from Houston to Cleveland, Davante Adams from Green Bay to Las Vegas and, oh yeah, Tom Brady from retirement to unretirement.

Here's a look at what the rest of the NFC North has been doing while the Vikings were tripling down on their faith in Kirk Cousins' leadership potential and pushing other chunks of salary cap hits down the road for 33-year-old safety Harrison Smith and soon-to-be-32-year-old receiver Adam Thielen.

Detroit Lions

A cynic might suggest the Lions have been quiet in free agency because no NFL player with freedom would actually choose to play in Detroit. There's probably some truth to that, but money still speaks loudest of all this time of year, and Detroit has plenty of it, ranking 10th in available cap space, according to Over the Cap.

The Lions' second-year regime has made only one meaningful veteran signing, and that was a one-year deal for 25-year-old receiver D.J. Chark, a promising player who missed 13 games a year ago.

With three of the top 34 picks in this year's draft, including the first of two first-round picks from the Rams as part of last year's Matthew Stafford trade, the Lions have signaled an intent build through the draft. Then, when the time is right, they'll take some risks in free agency and craft an exit strategy from Jared Goff to their QB of the future as early as next year.

Re-signing safety Tracy Walker, 27, was a smart move for a defense that ranked 31st in points allowed last season. With many more defensive playmakers needed, the Lions could use their top three picks on that side of the ball starting with Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall.

Chicago Bears

New General Manager Ryan Poles backed out of his interview with the Vikings last month, sidestepping a salary cap nightmare and the Cousins Conundrum for a rebuild intended to coincide with the maturation of second-year quarterback Justin Fields, last year's 11th overall pick.

Poles wasn't happy inheriting just four draft picks, but he added another second- and sixth-rounder this year and a sixth-rounder next year for Khalil Mack, a six-time Pro Bowler who's 31, coming off an injury-plagued season, due $64 million over the next three years and doesn't fit coach Matt Eberflus' switch to a 4-3 defensive front.

Poles also let top receiver Allen Robinson walk rather than overpay a 28-year-old to be part of a steady rebuild. Chicago has over $30 million in cap space, fifth-most in the league, but Poles chose instead to bring in Kansas City's Byron Pringle and Green Bay's Equanimeous St. Brown on team-friendly contracts.

Poles did lose James Daniels, a good, durable and only 24-year-old guard, to Pittsburgh. But he tapped the rival Packers again, signing away starter Lucas Patrick to fill that hole.

Green Bay Packers

Two years ago, the Packers won 13 games and the NFC North with first-team All-Pros playing left tackle and center. Neither one played for the Packers last year, yet Green Bay once again won 13 games and the NFC North while fielding a young, beat-up, makeshift offensive line.

That's the kind of margin of error that Aaron Rodgers has given the Packers for most of the past decade and a half. Besides being one of the best passers in NFL history, the two-time reigning league MVP just makes everyone around him a whole lot better.

That's what General Manager Brian Gutekunst is banking on after making Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history two weeks ago. Rather than risk Adams holding out to protest being franchise-tagged, Gutekunst dealt the disgruntled receiver to the Raiders on Thursday for first- and second-round picks this year.

That gives the Packers four of the top 64 picks. Not a bad return for a receiver turning 30 this season.

Yes, Adams was first-team All-Pro the last two years. But it wasn't until his fifth year in Green Bay that his career skyrocketed. It was 2018, the year Green Bay lost Jordy Nelson as Rodgers' top target at the time. And Nelson's breakout years in Green Bay didn't come until after Greg Jennings left for the Vikings.

Sensing a pattern for the fellas who play alongside No. 12, eh?

Right now, 26-year-old Allen Lazard is Rodgers' top receiver. Rodgers could make him the next star. Or it could be one of the receivers Gutekunst will be bringing in to bolster the position.

Gutekunst and his staff have an eye for hidden talent. A year ago, they signed former Gophers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell to a one-year, $2 million prove-it deal.

And all he did was earn first-team All-Pro and a five-year, $50 million deal to anchor the defense on a Packers team that's expected to win the NFC North for the fourth straight year.