NFC North Hot News

At this point in free agency most of the major moves have been made, leaving teams to fill out their rosters with a few acquisitions and turning their attention toward the draft.

Hot News around the NFC North Division from, and


Will be tested out of the gate
R.W. McQuarters will face his former squad in the season opener at San Francisco. The cornerback will go up against Terrell Owens, who had 100 receptions for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2002. McQuarters had an injury-plagued campaign last year, which ended without an interception.

Sets up individual workouts
Published reports indicate that James Thornton has set up workouts with the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, and Chicago Bears. Thornton, despite unimpressive statistics on a poor 2002 Morris Brown team, has put up some excellent workout numbers and captured the attention of several NFL clubs.

Signs with Bucs
As has been rumored for weeks, former Bears QB Jim Miller has signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bears, Ravens take another look
The Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens will take another look at a standout NCAA Division II receiver. David Kircus, along with GVS QB Curt Anes, worked out for a number of teams on March 17, and had a private workout for the Bears today. Kircus holds several NCAA all-division receiving records and was named the Hula Bowl's MVP and Offensive Player of the Game.

More damage to repair
Terrell Suggs' draft stock fell after running a poor time in the 40-yard dash. However, the defensive end could drop even further after being involved in a weekend brawl in Phoenix. Suggs has not been charged, and Phoenix police said accounts of the altercation differ. An investigation is under way.

The Arizona State product had been considered the Bears choice with the No. 4 pick until last week's disappointing workout. Suggs ran the forty in the high 4.7's and low 4.8's.


Signs two-year deal
MLB Wali Rainer has signed a two-year, $1.875 million deal that includes a $475,000 signing bonus. The move likely means Barrett Green will remain at outside linebacker inside of sliding to the middle.

Signs with 49ers
Former Lions DT Travis Kirschke has signed a one-year deal with San Francisco. Financial terms were not disclosed, but he will compete for a roster spot alongside Bryant Young, Jim Flanigan and Josh Shaw.

Broncos RB expected to visit Detroit
According to the Denver Post, Broncos running back Olandis Gary may visit the Detroit Lions on Friday, or during the course of the weekend. Gary, 5-11, 220 pounds, rushed for just 147 yards in two starts last season. He has visited with several teams thus far, and it has become public knowledge that he will not re-sign with Denver after losing his starting position to rookie standout Clinton Portis in 2002.

The report did state that the Jacksonville Jaguars were the lead team for Gary's services -- but only in a back-up role.

Visits with Lions
Cleveland Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd visited with the Detroit Lions on Tuesday, an announcement that came on the heels of Detroit's signing of Jaguars' free-agent middle linebacker Wali Rainer.

Rudd, who will be entering his seventh NFL season, is an outside linebacker that would compliment both Rainer and Barrett Green, meanwhile instantly solidifying the previously depleted linebacker corps.

The 6-2, 240 pound Alabama product started 15 games for Cleveland last year, tallying 51 tackles and one sack. He had 72 tackles in 2001.

It is not known whether or not the Lions offered Rudd a contract, but the team does have a wealth of salary cap space to accommodate Rudd's services, if they want to.

WR Jacquez Green was released Wednesday.

Out 6-8 weeks after surgery
LB Josh Thornhill had foot surgery on Friday and did not participate in the team's minicamp this week. He's expected to return in 6-8 weeks.


Helps team by restructuring bonus
Andrew Brandt, the Packers vice president of player finance, said the Packers converted cornerback Mike McKenzie's $1.75 million roster bonus into a signing bonus earlier this off-season. The bonus will be prorated over the remaining four years of his contract instead of counting entirely on this season's salary cap.

The Packers are about $3 million under the salary cap limit of $75.3 million, Brandt said.

Making progress in recovery
Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman said defensive end Joe Johnson has made great strides in his comeback from the triceps injury that limited him to only five games last season.

Johnson traveled to Green Bay from his off-season home of St. Louis a couple of weeks ago to meet with trainers. He will be ready to participate in the team's first off-season minicamp beginning April 29.

Door to Green Bay all but closed
Vonnie Holliday's chances of re-signing with the Packers all but disappeared Wednesday when Green Bay re-signed Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to a $37.3 million contract. With Joe Johnson and Cletidus Hunt signed to big contracts, the Packers likely will not pursue any big-name free agents for the defensive line.

"I never close the door on anything," Packers coach/GM Mike Sherman said. "But, obviously, the numbers would have to be right."

Holliday is weighing offers from the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. He also visited the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday. Holliday turned down a deal from the Packers in September that included a $5 million signing bonus.

May need elbow surgery
Offensive tackle Chad Clifton may need to have arthroscopic surgery on his elbow, according to Packers coach Mike Sherman.

"(Clifton) may have a little bit of a bone chip in his elbow," Sherman said. "They (team doctors) are waiting for it to move a little bit. If not, he may have to get scoped on the elbow."

Clifton is rehabbing from a severe pelvic injury sustained last Nov. 24 when he was flattened from a blind-sided block by defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Clifton also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January.

Staying with Packers
DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila will stay with Green Bay after flirting with the Philadelphia Eagles. He agreed to a seven-year, $37 million contract that includes a $13 million signing bonus, according to an report.

Acquired from 'Skins
OL David Brandt, who recently returned to the Redskins after leaving the team before the start of last season, has been acquired for a conditional seventh-round pick next year.

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