We're Black and Blue All Over:
I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for Franchise Monday! Yes, today is the first day that NFL teams can tag franchise players, a designation that requires premium compensation for another team -- and allows for right of first refusal -- to acquire them via free agency. The window extends through March 5, and as you know, we spent much of last week discussing the various possibilities for the NFC North.
Two division players, Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte and Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, have already acknowledged they might not react well if franchised. Avril's comments came over the weekend while speaking to several Detroit-area reporters.
I know a lot of you are worked up about his potential reaction, but all Avril really said was that an offseason/training camp holdout was one of several potential scenarios if he is franchised. It wasn't a threat as much as it was an acknowledgement of reality. Here's exactly how he put it: "There's a lot of different possibilities, and that's one of the possibilities -- not showing up. But we don't know. That's not the plan, obviously. But there's a lot of different possibilities, and that's definitely one of them."
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported over the weekend that the Lions had decided to use the franchise tag if they can't get Avril signed to a long-term extension before the March 5 deadline. That would take some substantial salary-cap maneuvering, but as we've discussed many times, there is always a way to get a single move accomplished under the salary cap if you're willing to accept sacrifices in other areas.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Lions safety Louis Delmas broke his media silence over the weekend, notes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Longtime Lions assistant coach Don Clemons, who worked for nine different Lions head coaches, has retired after 27 years with the team. Tim Twentyman of the team's website explains.
The Green Bay Packers denied permission for safeties coach Darren Perry to interview for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator job, according to Dan Pompei for the National Football Post.
I'll do a separate post on the Green Bay Press Gazette's special report on the newly corporate Green Bay Packers, but here's the primary link for you to chew on now. Links to sidebars are embedded.
ESPNMilwaukee.com's Jason Wilde's position-by-position review of the Packers hits the defensive line.
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press evaluates the career of Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Fowler: "A look at Spielman's body of work shows he's a detail-oriented grinder who is growing as an evaluator and works well with others after years as a pseudo-general manager behind head coaches with a heavy hand in roster moves. But it's fair to question his ability to resuscitate the Vikings after miscues and a lack of autonomy through 20 seasons in the business."
Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune believes that building a new football stadium in downtown Minneapolis is critical to maintaining a strong heartbeat for the center of the metropolitan area.
A number of Chicago Bears players attended the funeral of the wife of former Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris, according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.