BBAO: Bears get annual jump on contracts

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Chicago Bears never mess around when it comes to signing their draft picks, and this week they became the NFL's first team to start locking up members of its 2013 draft class. Fifth-round pick Jordan Mills and sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington both agreed to terms Wednesday, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com points out.

There is no rush to sign draft picks at this time of year because NFL rules allow them to participate in offseason workouts even before they have a contract. And the NFL's current rookie scale has left less room for negotiating and made rookie deals more routine as training camp approaches.

Still, the Bears prefer to get their deals done early rather than risk market influence from other teams' deals later in the process. The players' incentive is to get their signing bonus earlier.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Rookie free agent P.J. Lonergan, a center from LSU, is a player worth watching in the Bears' offseason practices. Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times explains.

  • The Bears can expect some post-draft tweaks to their scouting department, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.

  • New Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin wants to gain the respect of teammates before attempting to step forward as a leader, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.

  • The Lions are expecting relatively immediate impact from their draft class, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.

  • The Lions were focused on acquiring and drafting long pass-rushers, measured in terms of height and arm length, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.

  • Former Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris has retired as a Packer, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. Harris is currently on the coaching staff of the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette profiles former Packers place-kicker Jan Stenerud, the only pure kicker to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Former Packers safety LeRoy Butler said the speech he was going to make to a local church centered around bullying, according to the Press-Gazette. The church canceled the appearance because, Butler said, he tweeted support when NBA player Jason Collins announced he was gay.

  • Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said he went to the emergency room in January because the bruise in his right elbow returned. There was concern he had compartment syndrome and needed surgery, but ultimately an MRI revealed he did not and that it would heal on its own. Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune provides the transcript of Ponder's revelation.

  • Vikings receiver Greg Childs, who tore the patellar tendons in both knees last summer, is back to running routes but there is no timetable on his return to practice, writes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • Vikings quarterback Joe Webb is doing extra work as a receiver in case the Vikings move his position, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. Matt Cassel will be Ponder's backup this season.