We're Black and Blue All Over:
Well hello there. I missed more than I thought I would last week, but not so much that we can't dig ourselves out. Let's see. The Chicago Bears placed the franchise tag on tailback Matt Forte, the Minnesota Vikings took an important step toward a new stadium and, oh yeah, the NFL announced that the New Orleans Saints ran an organized bounty system during the time they put a royal beating on then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.
That should catch us up.
Ha. I'll hit those issues and more in greater detail Monday, but let's also remember that we've reached the deadline for the Detroit Lions to place the franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril if they choose. The sides have been working on a long-term contract but haven't reached an agreement. The deadline for using the tag is 4 p.m. ET, and (UPDATE) the Lions would eventually have to have enough salary-cap space -- about $11 million -- to fit in Avril's franchise number.
I don't think any other franchise news will come from the NFC North; we've already downplayed the possibility of the Green Bay Packers using theirs on quarterback Matt Flynn. But hang on. Today should be an interesting ride.
For now, let's take our morning stroll around the division:
Several Bears players wonder if injuries that occurred during their 2011 game against the Saints came as a result of the bounty. Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com has more.
New Bears general manager Phil Emery plans to spend a good portion of his week on the road scouting during the NFL season, according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders if the Bears should consider signing Saints guard Carl Nicks.
The Lions last used the franchise tag in 2007, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Here's what Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had to say about the bounty story, via the Charlotte Observer: "It's unfortunate to hear these things come out. Me personally, I don't take part in those things and knowing my teammates and knowing my coaches, we wouldn't allow that. I understand it's a tough situation the commissioner has to deal with. As he has in the past, he's going to deal with it with a stiff hand. Hopefully, people can learn from the mistakes and make an example out of it."
John Niyo of the Detroit News: "If I'm Ndamukong Suh or James Harrison or any other player recently suspended by the league in his push to promote player safety, I'm watching this case intently, waiting to see if justice really is blind in the NFL. If you get a game for being a repeat offender delivering illegal hits, what do you get for repeatedly soliciting illegal hits as a coach?"
It seems unlikely that the Packers will use their franchise tag on Flynn, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Sentiment should not play a part in the Packers' decision on whether to bring back receiver Donald Driver, writes Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette.
The Packers raised $67 million in their latest stock sale, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk posted this photograph on his Twitter account after cutting his famously long hair to benefit children with cancer.
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com: "In retrospect, it's now clear that at least some of the key participants on the Vikings sideline, including coach Brad Childress, knew something wasn't right with how aggressive coordinator Gregg Williams' defense was being against Favre. Childress would say as much several months later."
Some serious political pressure, on both sides of the issue, is about to be applied on the Vikings' stadium front, according to Rachel E. Stassen-Berger of the Star Tribune.
The actual stadium bill is not expected to be ready Monday, according to Doug Belden of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.