NFC North Hot News

The Bears competitors in the NFC North have been busy since free agency began a week ago. Hot News covers the latest comings and goings from around the division.

Hot News compiled from, and

Defensive tackle signs deal
The six-year contract for defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt was finalized on Saturday. The deal is reportedly worth $25.1 million, including a $6 million signing bonus. Hunt will count $1.7 million against the Packers' salary cap this year ($700,000 base salary, plus the $1 million prorated portion of his signing bonus).

Redskins sign safety to offer sheet
The Washington Redskins signed safety Matt Bowen to a four-year, $6 million offer sheet. The Green Bay Packers have seven days to decide whether to match it and retain Bowen or let him go and receive a sixth-round pick as compensation.

The pick is commensurate with the round in which Bowen was originally selected in the draft.

Meets with Holmgren in Seattle
Free agent defensive end Vonnie Holliday met with Mike Holmgren and Ray Rhodes, who coached him while he was with the Green Bay Packers, Wednesday in Seattle. Holliday also had breakfast with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, according to reports. Hasselbeck and Holliday were each drafted by the Packers in 1998.

Holliday, who visited Arizona on Monday, told reporters in Seattle that he is very interested in joining the Seahawks.

"I don't think it's going to take much selling," he said after touring Seahawks headquarters. "I think this organization is taking the right steps to winning and that's what everyone wants to do."

Holliday also may visit Kansas City this week.

CB Bhawoh Jue had a bone spur removed from his right ankle in arthroscopic surgery. He also had surgery in mid-November for hernia and groin problems

Signs 3 year deal with Ravens
The Ravens addressed their special teams, on Thursday signing Harold Morrow to a three-year contract. Although Morrow will be listed on the roster as a fullback, his true impact will be felt on special teams coverage. The 30 year-old Morrow should provide a physical force on special teams in breaking the wedge of blockers on kickoff returns. "On kickoff coverage, you need a physical player who will get down and blow up the wedge," said Gary Zauner, the Ravens' special teams coordinator told "We didn't seem to have that last year. Harold brings a sense of being physical and he's the hammer that we need to be a good kickoff coverage team." The 5'11 232 pound Auburn product has spent his whole 7 year career in the twin cities and is familiar with both Zauner, the former special teams coach of the Vikings, and Ravens head coach Brian Billick, who was the Vikings' offensive coordinator before coming to Baltimore. "I'm happy. I'm reunited with some old friends," Morrow said. "It's a great opportunity. They treat guys right around here. They want to win." Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Meets with Vikings
Free agent QB Gus Frerrote met with Vikings officials on Wednesday. No contract has been offered, but Minnesota is looking for a veteran backup to Daunte Culpepper.

Signs tender
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser signed his one-year tender offer for $3.05 million -- the amount paid a player with a franchise designation at tight end.

Working hard this offseason
Perhaps veteran tight end Byron Chamberlain is finally getting it. Chamberlain, coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued 2002 season, has spent the last month working out in Phoenix at Fischer Sports Therapy and Conditioning. He is said to be in the best shape of his career. And that's important. The Vikings didn't hide the fact that they thought Chamberlain was not in great shape last season. Chamberlain hurt his knee in the season opener when a linebacker caught him from behind on a long pass play. He missed some games, was not the same when he returned. The Vikings still would like to run a two tight end offense that includes a speedy tight end like Chamberlain who can split coverage down the middle, with Jim Kleinsasser adding his blocking prowess.

Vikings' first UFA acquisition
The Vikings signed free-agent defensive lineman Billy Lyon Tuesday. Lyon played in 59 games, starting seven, over his five-year career with the Packers. He has eight career sacks, and he is expected to be used both inside at tackle and outside at end. Lyon played with Randy Moss and Doug Chapman at Marshall University.

Gets three-year deal
DT Jared DeVries has agreed to a three-year deal that will keep the free agent in Detroit.

Rumor: Colvin will sign with Lions
In an update to an earlier rumor, the internet web site reported that the Chicago Bears' free-agent linebacker Rosevelt Colvin would sign with the Detroit Lions on Thursday. However, this has yet to happen.

LB Signs With Steelers
LB Clint Kriewaldt has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers. More information coming soon.

A disappointing end
There was less emotion but considerable disappointment when the Lions released wide receiver Germane Crowell rather than pay him the $2 million bonus it would have taken to keep him into the 2003 season. The Lions had high hopes for Crowell after taking him in the second-round of the 1998 NFL draft but he has been a disappointment the past three years because of injuries. After one good season -- 81 receptions for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns in 1999 -- Crowell started just 16 games in three years. Last season he missed the first six games on PUP and caught only 22 passes for 201 yards and one touchdown as he struggled to come back from two seasons of knee injuries. The Lions indicated they might try to re-sign Crowell at a lower rate but that might not happen. He seems to have lost a lot of speed, has never been an exceptional route runner and had a hard time getting open.

Hard cut for Millen
One of the moves the Lions had to make prior to the start of free agency was cutting 11-year veteran wide receiver/returner Desmond Howard, who was a rookie at Washington when Lions president Matt Millen was finishing his career. Howard was hampered by injuries last season and became expendable when rookie receiver Eddie Drummond emerged as a punt and kickoff return threat. That didn't make it any easier for Millen to release Howard, however. "Forget the football side," Millen said. "Desmond is such a well-rounded guy, such a good thinker and had a great personality. I always called him `Happy' because he always was upbeat. "He was like that when he came into training camp his rookie year and every time I see him he's like that. He's got a great head on his shoulders, and he'll be successful no matter what he does." Howard, 32, has achieved just about every major honor in football -- winning the Heisman Trophy at Michigan, being drafted in the first round by the Redskins, being named the Super Bowl MVP with the 1996 Green Bay Packers and winning a Pro Bowl appearance with the Lions in 2000.

Signs five-year deal
Former Rams CB Dre' Bly signed a five-year deal believed to be worth $24.5 million and including a signing bonus in the area of $6 million.

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