NFC North Hot News

Notes from around the division as free-agency starts to heat up as the calendar turns to March. The latest news on players coming and going from the Bears competition.

Hot News compiled from, and
Lions extend contract to make it cap friendly The Lions re-upped with defensive end Robert Porcher, adding another year to his contract and lowering his base salary and making it more friendly to the cap. The extension means Porcher's deal runs through 2005 which the veteran from South Carolina State says will likely be his last year as a pro.

"I really just focus in on this season, said the veteran Porcher when asked if 2005 would be his last season. "I'm one of those guys; I like to focus on the task at hand. Now after this year, who knows."

Tackle could be released
Elliss signed a hugely backloaded six-year contract extension with the Lions during the 1999 season. The Lions were in the midst of their "Lion for Life" campaign and figured the very grounded, solid citizen Elliss would be the cornerstone of their defense.

But injuries have robbed Elliss of much of his effectiveness and with three years left on his deal at $4.7, $5.2 and $5.7 million after back-to-back subpar seasons; the Lions are contemplating his release.

Elliss has volunteered to re-do his deal to spread it out over a longer period of time but so far, Detroit has declined his offer. Not a good sign.

Officially gone
In a move speculated to happens for several months, WR Germane Crowell was officially cut Tuesday.

Return specialist Desmond Howard was cut Tuesday as the team continues its attempts to clear room under the salary cap. Howard missed the final seven games of last season with a neck injury.

Sees potential in Lions
As it stands right now, conventional wisdom has Charlie Rogers going to Detroit with the second pick in the draft. Rogers was at Ford Field watching when Joey Harrington made his first pro start last year. "I feel like he did great, the way he jumped into the fire," Rogers told the Detroit News at the NFL's combine. "He jumped in quick, early. I feel like he handled himself real good. His future's going to be bright. He's a great guy. He's got a good personality."

Not out of the running
Steve Mariucci isn't handing over the starting quarterback job just yet but he said Joey Harrington, last year's first-round pick, will go to camp as the No. 1 quarterback. That doesn't mean he doesn't have expectations for backups Mike McMahon and Ty Detmer. "I met with Mike McMahon today and I told him I'm counting on him," Mariucci said. "I want him to compete and I want him to be ready to win games for us." Detmer was virtually the forgotten man on the roster last year but Mariucci likes having him around. They were together at Green Bay and San Francisco, and Mariucci likes his savvy as well as his locker room presence.

Agent, Packers working hard on deal Jimmy Sexton, the agent for defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt, and the Green Bay Packers have been negotiating on a long-term deal, and are hoping to reach an agreement before midnight Thursday when free agency begins.

The Packers used their transition tag on Hunt last week. In doing so, Hunt counts $4.689 million against the team's salary cap. By re-signing Hunt to a long-term extension before Friday, the Packers can reduce the cap hit because Hunt likely will have a smaller cap number for 2003.

Hunt is seeking a signing bonus of between $5 million and $6 million as part of a multi-year deal.

Sexton told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that both sides have made progress, but reaching a deal before Friday is up in the air.

Lions likely to come calling
CB Tyrone Williams, who is expected to be one of the few experienced quality corner's available this offseason, can expected to be courted by division-rival Detroit. The Lions defense is weakest on the corners, and the team is very familiar with Williams.

Has surgery on toe
Long snapper Rob Davis had turf-toe surgery to repair a torn ligament in the big toe on his right foot. The operation was performed in Charlotte by Robert Anderson, the same surgeon who did similar procedures on Sterling Sharpe in 1994 and Antuan Edwards in 1999.

Ranked as second best restricted free agent Linebacker Na'il Diggs is ranked as the second best restricted free agent, according to The web site rated the top 13 players who are scheduled to become restricted free agents on Friday.

Green Bay defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was listed as the top restricted free agent and should get a tender that would require a team to give the Packers two first-round picks.

Diggs is expected to receive a higher tender from the Packers. He was drafted by Green Bay in the fourth round in 2000 and has started since his rookie season. He had 84 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble last year.

Packers seek trade for receiver
The Green Bay Packers have given Terry Glenn's agent permission to shop the wide receiver around to other teams, according to a recent report from the NFL Combine. Glenn is due a $500,000 roster bonus from the Packers on March 1. His base salary for next year is $1.5 million.

The Packers traded with the New England Patriots in March of 2002 for Glenn, then re-signed Glenn to a multi-year contract.

Rehab going well
OT Mark Tauscher had reconstructive surgery Oct. 11 to repair two torn ligaments and trim meniscus cartilage in his left knee. His rehabilitation has gone well and the Packers expect him to participate in training camp, albeit on a limited basis. "There's no assurance that 'Tausch' is going to come all the way back, either," Beightol said. "That's a serious injury."

Suitors lining up
The list of possible suitors continues to mount for offensive tackle Orlando Brown. Include Cleveland, the last team he played for (1999), Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and St. Louis among possibilities.

Will visit Vikings
QB Neil O'Donnell, released last week by Tennessee, is expected to visit the Vikings this week. With the team attempting to trade Todd Bouman, they might soon have a need for an accomplished backup like O'Donnell.

If he stays, must be a better student Vikings coach Mike Tice has told backup quarterback Todd Bouman that he will try to trade him to a team that would give Bouman a chance to start. If they aren't successful, Bouman could return, but Tice wants Bouman to become more of a student of the game so that he can help starter Daunte Culpepper on the sidelines during games.

Jimmy Franchise
TE Jim Kleinsasser was given the team's franchise tag on Thursday, meaning he is guaranteed at least a one-year deal around $3 million, and the team said it will continue to try to work out a multi-year deal.

Future with team up in air
While there are inklings that the Vikings could make offers to a few of their restricted free agents, the futures of LB Antonio Wilson and defensive back Tyrone Carter are very much up in the air. Word is neither will get an offer before the Feb. 27 deadline, leaving them exposed on the open market. While Wilson was little more than a special teams contributor in his three years with the Vikings, Carter was used as a spot starter at both cornerback and safety. He made seven starts in 2002, generally as a nickel back.

FA signing would allow move inside
VU has been told that offensive tackle Orlando Brown will work out with the team March 3 when the coaching staff returns from Indianapolis and finalizes its free agent plan. Brown is a player Mike Tice would like to sign quickly to kill the void at right tackle -- his signing would let Chris Liwienski (who did a solid job at RT) to move back to his natural left guard spot and get used to working next to Bryant McKinnie. The Vikings considered swaying Brown out of retirement last year, but, with his legal matter with the NFL still pending, he wasn't available. Early word is that the free-agent laden OL of the Rams will be getting a big makeover and that St. Louis is ready to make a serious incentive-laden push for Brown. The Broncos and Chargers are also rumored to be interested, but the Rams will clearly be the early opponent in the Brown sweepstakes.

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