We're Black and Blue All Over:
The July 4 holiday usually means the unofficial end of summer for NFL teams, as vacations wrap up and preparations for training camp begin in earnest. It also signals the final days for teams to sign their franchise players to long-term contracts before the next offseason.
That issue has relevance for the Chicago Bears, who as of now are set to pay defensive tackle Henry Melton the one-year franchise tender of $8.45 million. The deadline for the sides to agree on a longer, more salary cap-friendly deal, is a week from today on July 15. According to ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton, it's "debatable" whether something will get done between the sides.
At last check, the Bears had about $1.6 million in remaining camp space with Melton under the franchise tag. That's not much, but their draft class is signed and there isn't much left on their offseason financial agenda. Melton's number is manageable. The Bears must make a decision based more on their plans for him in coming years rather than simply the salary cap.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune asks 10 questions about the Bears as training camp approaches.
Bears tailback Michael Bush told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune that he played a good portion of the 2012 season with a fracture in his right shoulder.
Former Bears guard Chilo Rachal explains his side of the story that led to leaving the team at midseason. More from McClure in the Tribune.
Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "The Detroit Lions have players with leadership qualities on defense. But they still lack one true leader who commands all of his defensive teammates’ respect and undying loyalty."
Dave Birkett of the Free Press examines five position battles Detroit will face in training camp.
Lions players are staying out of trouble this offseason, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Defensive end/linebacker Mike Neal is the Green Bay Packers' 19th-most important player, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
The Packers want to retire Brett Favre's No. 4 before he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, team president/CEO Mark Murphy told Packers.com.
Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press runs through five Minnesota Vikings players facing a pivotal season.