NFC North Hot News

Hot News and notes from around the NFC North, including a number of potential free agents — an offensive tackle, a linebacker and a cornerback — that could interest the Vikings when free agency starts in two short weeks.

Hot News compiled from, and


Won't be tagged

With the free-agent deadline quickly approaching, the Bears don't plan on using their franchise designation on Rosevelt Colvin.

"I don't foresee us doing that," said Bears GM Jerry Angelo. "Not to say that we won't use one. I just don t like to do business that way."

Angelo also mentioned that he thought Bryan Knight could play a similar role to Colvin, if the linebacker signs with another team.

End of an era
James "Big Cat" Williams is the only current member of the Bears to play for Mike Ditka, Dave Wannstedt and current head coach Dick Jauron.

Williams, a 12-year veteran, has seen plenty of players come and go, but in a cap-related move he could be released sometime this off-season. The right tackle is scheduled to make $1.9 million next season and is considered expendable with the emergence of Marc Colombo and Mike Gandy.

Colombo's natural position is the right side, which would allow Gandy to remain at left tackle, where he started the last six games of the season.

Stewart a Bear?
The Chicago Bears are excepted to be in the running for the Kordell Stewart lottery, the Chicago Tribune reports. When he is released later this month the Bears should be one of many teams trying to woo the former Pro Bowl quarterback. "Absolutely we think Chicago would be a great place to be," said Stewart's agent, Leigh Steinberg. "Obviously that defense will make the Bears a perpetual contender."

Trade in the making
The Bears have made no secret that they're in the market for at least two quarterbacks, likely one through free agency and another via the draft.

There are now rumblings that the Browns are shopping Tim Couch. However, the hangup could be Couch's salary, which is $6.2 million, $7.6 million and $8 million over the next three seasons.

Up and running
Head coach Dick Jauron revealed defensive tackle Ted Washington's surgically repaired left foot and ankle have healed. The defensive tackle is expected to begin running within the next three weeks and could participate in the team's minicamp following the draft.
Washington missed 14 games with a fractured left fibula and torn Lis franc ligament in his left foot.

"His foot has done really well," coach Dick Jauron said. "He's healed up, he's fine. I believe, and I'm not exact on this, but within the next three weeks he's cleared to start his running program."

If the rehab continues with no setbacks, Washington should participate in the first minicamp.


Does he have what it takes?

Darrell Bevell, the Packers' new quarterbacks coach, spent most of last season as rookie Craig Nall's personal tutor. Does the fifth-round draft choice from Northwestern (La.) State have what it takes to become a starter?

"That's a hard thing to say at this point," Bevell said. "He's done a great job in drills, but you've got to go from the drills to the field. He hasn't had that many reps in practice and we haven't seen him in a game. "We've filmed his release, his ball carriage, everything. He's come a long way, a long way. The one good thing is he worked really hard this past off-season. He has very good tools."

CB on the market?
Cornerback Tyrone Williams is due a $4 million roster bonus on March 1, but the Green Bay Packers are not expected to pay it to the veteran. The Packers likely will release Williams prior to March 1 or negotiate a new contract.

Williams signed a five-year deal in 1999 that was back-loaded. He said last fall that the final year was for salary cap purposes and will be voided before the start of free agency.

Favre milestones
Quarterback Brett Favre became only the fourth player in NFL history to surpass 300 career touchdown passes and the eighth player to top 40,000 career passing yards during the 2002 regular season.

Favre, entering his 12th season, has thrown for 314 touchdowns during the regular season and 42,285 yards.

NFL alumni honor tight end
Bubba Franks, who was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, was honored recently by NFL Alumni as the "2002 Tight End of the Year."

Franks led the NFC with seven touchdown catches. He finished 2002 with a career-high 54 catches for 442 yards, falling two catches short of Paul Coffman's club single-season record – 56 in 1979.


To tag or not to tag?

The popular thought is the Lions might not use their franchise or transition tags. If they do, the most likely player to be slapped with one is linebacker Chris Claiborne. Putting the franchise tag on him would cost over $5.5 million for one season. If Claiborne is not given the franchise tag, it appears unlikely he will return next season.

Hakim's hip
Az-Zahir Hakim suffered a season-ending hip injury, but the Lions say he is making good progress toward a return for the 2003 season. The question is whether the injury will take away his quickness, and for a small receiver that could be disastrous.

Viking Update Top Stories