We're Black and Blue All Over:
We are approaching the final weekend in the NFL calendar before the deadline to sign franchise players to long-term contracts. Based on Vaughn McClure's story in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Bears would have to make substantial progress over the next few days to reach an agreement with defensive tackle Henry Melton.
If the sides don't have a deal by Monday afternoon -- and McClure reported there has only been "chatter" in the way of discussions -- then Melton will play the 2013 season under the terms of his one-year, $8.45 million franchise tender. That's not necessarily a crippling blow for the Bears or their cap situation, but it would put everyone in the same situation at the end of the season.
If he plays out the year under the franchise tag, Melton would once again be eligible for free agency this winter. The Bears would have to franchise him again to protect against his departure if they can't sign him to a longer-term deal.
Continuing around the NFC North:
It's time for Shea McClellin to push Corey Wootton for a spot in the Bears' starting lineup, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "Matthew Stafford’s new contract is structured such that he could be in line for another extension three years from now."
Lions center Dominic Raiola is happy the team is back under the radar, Raiola told Sirius NFL Radio, via Mlive.com.
Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey Hayward are the 15th-most important players on the Green Bay Packers' roster, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
The Packers are trying to reach a contract agreement with safety Morgan Burnett, who is entering the final year of his contract, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
Suddenly, guard Josh Sitton is the Packers' most experienced offensive lineman. More from Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Here's a humorous look at eight out-of-context quotes from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen from Vikings.com.