We're Black and Blue All Over:
Wednesday was a busy day for the Green Bay Packers, and not just because they made linebacker Clay Matthews one of the most highly-paid defensive players in the NFL. They also took the rare step of hosting a restricted free agent, Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon, on a visit at Lambeau Field.
(A number of media outlets reported the news, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)
The deadline for signing restricted free agents to an offer sheet is Friday, and the Steelers put McLendon in a favorable position to depart. First, they issued him a low tender that would not require any draft-choice compensation for another team to sign. Also, as AFC North colleague Jamison Hensley notes, the Steelers are down to $800,000 in salary-cap space and would have to make some changes to match any offer the Packers might make.
McLendon has started only one game in his three-year career but apparently was set to take over for veteran Casey Hampton this season. The Packers have a well-known desire and need to beef up their defensive line this offseason. We'll let you know if the Packers ultimately make him an offer.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Matthews on the deal, via Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "I think it was important. Giving up so many draft picks right around the Brett Favre trade, and then drafting an (unproven) guy in college and picking him up and having belief and then coming in here and doing my part, and that's helping this team win, be a consummate professional and ultimately being comfortable in the city and everything this organization has to offer."
Matthews said he hopes "the next order of business" is signing quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
The Chicago Bears are looking at other ways to use Devin Hester on special teams, including kick coverage, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears general manager Phil Emery has a clear draft plan, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears defensive end Shea McClellin has added 5 to 7 pounds onto his frame, writes Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Detroit Lions' ideal position for Riley Reiff is right guard, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News speaks with new Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on his drop in touchdown passes last season, via Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com: "Touchdowns, everybody talks about them, and it's a big stat and all that, but as a team, I want to score. I don't care how we get in the end zone. I don't care if I run it in. I want us to score. Obviously, I'd like to throw touchdowns if that means the only way we're going to get to be able to do it. But if teams try to take away the pass from us, we're going to try to run it in."
The Minnesota Vikings have purchased a building next to their Winter Park practice facility, an indication they plan to expand their operations in the near future, according to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com on the Vikings' cornerback situation: "Drafting a cornerback such as Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, Washington's Desmond Trufant or Houston's D.J. Hayden late in the first round is a possibility, since it's debatable the Vikings even have two-starting caliber players on the roster."
Former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield had some "angst" about where to sign for 2013, according to Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, via Tim Booth of the Associated Press.