Lions, Packers begin offseason programs

Monday brought the opening of two more NFC North offseason programs, which in the context of mid-April is big news in these parts.

The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers have opened their doors for voluntary workouts, joining the Chicago Bears, who began April 2 under separate rules available to teams with new head coaches. For the next two weeks, according to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, Lions and Packers players are limited to strength and conditioning work as well as rehabilitation during program hours. There can be no official on-field work during what is known as "Phase One" of the program.

All players must have signed contracts to participate, which means restricted free agents must sign either their tender offers or a waiver to ensure eligibility. The Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to open for business next Monday.

At this point, there is no indication that any of the big contract questions remaining in this division -- quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, along with Packers linebacker Clay Matthews -- will impact participation. All three are signed for 2013 and none have indicated an intention to stay away while awaiting new deals. Rodgers has a $500,000 workout bonus coming for participating in a certain percentage of offseason workouts, while Matthews would receive $40,000. Stafford does not have one based on the information I've seen, but he has been living in Detroit most of the winter and has made regular appearances at the Lions' facility.