What’s the rush? QB pressure has been priority in NFC North

Packers

FILE – San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passes under pressure from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. NFL teams can always use more pass rushers, as evidenced by the NFC North where all four teams have spent big to acquire them over the last three years.(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Pro Football Writer
There’s currently no more common a thread in the NFC North than prioritizing pressuring the quarterback.

The league-wide value on having a viable pass rush is not new, but this quartet has recently doubled down on such investments more than any other division in the NFL.

Over the past two years, Chicago has acquired Khalil Mack, Green Bay has added Z’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, Detroit has signed Trey Flowers and Minnesota has traded for Yannick Ngakoue.

FILE – Then-Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) reacts following a play against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. NFL teams can always use more pass rushers, as evidenced by the NFC North where all four teams have spent big to acquire them over the last three years. Minnesota, trying to overtake defending division champ Green Bay, was the latest example with the acquisition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.(AP Photo/Brian Blanco, File)

Eight of the 35 highest-paid edge rushers in the league in terms of average annual contract value are in the NFC North.

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