We're Black and Blue All Over:
Many of you have been asking about the status of Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones, whose contract is expiring. With four accrued seasons, he is a restricted free agent in the NFL's current system but likely will be unrestricted when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Jones confirmed to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com that the Packers extended him an RFA tender, a move that likely will be rendered moot under a new CBA.
If that's the case, the question boils down to whether Jones wants to return to the Packers as a No. 3 or No. 4 receiver -- or if he wants to seek a starting job elsewhere.
Jones: "My main thing going through all this is, do I want to be a starter in the National Football League? No question. Do I feel like I'm a starter? No question. I know we've got something great here. I mean, this team could win some championships for the next couple years. But at the same time, I do want to be a starter. I don't know if that's ever going to happen here with Donald [Driver] playing until he's 40."
Retaining Jones is important to maintaining the multiple-receiver formations the Packers use, but many times they have replaced an experienced backup with a younger player via the draft. Don't forget the Packers still have Jordy Nelson under contract, and the fact is Jones probably cost himself some free-agent money with two high-profile drops in the playoffs.
Continuing around the NFC North:
More Jones, via Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "If they want me, they'll make something happen. If not, they'll let me go."
Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk will receive about $11 million next season, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, meaning his new contract won't cost him any immediate money. He was originally scheduled to earn $10 million or the franchise number for linebackers, whichever was higher. This way, the Packers at least know they have him under contract for five years in exchange for the big 2011 salary.
Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was on the field for nearly 88 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears' top six tacklers on special teams last season are all on expiring contracts, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
The Detroit Lions have 10 players remaining from the Matt Millen era, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News looks at running backs the Lions might take late in the draft.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com takes a look at Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, whose pro day Tuesday will be of great interest to the Minnesota Vikings.
Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune wonders if the Vikings will bring back any of their current free agents.