NFC North Hot News

Teams and players around the NFC North react to cuts, bargaining and signings as the first full week of free agency comes to a close.

NFC North Hot News on divisional opponents from BearReport.com, LionsFans.com and PackerReport.com:


CHICAGO BEARS

Miller disappointed with timing

A disillusioned Jim Miller says he would have appreciated a little more patience from the Bears before they released him in the middle of his rehabilitation from rotator cuff surgery.

"You feel a little bit of disloyalty on their part," the ex-Bears quarterback told WBBM's Jeff Joniak, the team's play-by-play announcer. "You play through a year with an injury, they're telling you, 'play,' and I play, and this is how they treat you. But that's part of it. You just move on and make the best of it."

After rehabilitating a separated shoulder in the final game of the 2001 season, Miller started the first five games last season before being temporarily sidelined with elbow tendinitis and the shoulder injury, a tear in his right rotator cuff. Although unable to practice during the week because of the pain in his arm, Miller started three more games but was finally sidelined for good by a hyperextended left knee.

"People get mad when players go other places to take more money, and this is the very reason why," the 32-year-old Miller said. "Because you sit there and try and be professional, act professional and then, when it's not reciprocated, it leaves you with a very empty, hardened feeling inside."

Miller led the Bears to a 13-3 record in 2001, starting a career-best 13 games. In 2000, Miller played behind Cade McNown and Shane Matthews. After a shoulder injury to McNown, he started two games, but his season ended with a torn Achilles tendon. In 1999, his first full season with the Bears, Miller started as the No. 3 quarterback but after injuries to McNown and Matthews, he played impressively, compiling a team-best 83.5 passer rating, the best of his career. But that season was curtailed with four games remaining, when Miller tested positive for a steroid derivative that was contained in an over-the-counter supplement he used.

Gandy the LT of the future
Mike Gandy spent time at left guard and tackle last season. However, it looks as if he's been anointed the left tackle of the future. With the recent release of James "Big Cat" Williams, Marc Colombo will move over to his natural position of right tackle leaving the left side to Gandy.

Putting his money where his mouth is
David Terrell is promising to donate $100,000 to charity if the Bears don't make the playoffs next season.

Terrell declared he's on the road to recovery from a broken foot that ended his 2002 campaign. He joined WSCR-AM's Mike North and the Bear Report's own Doug Buffone on Tuesday and said if he doesn't play in more than 16 games he'll write a check to the favorite charity of The Score hosts.

"And I'm going to promise you this, they can put it in the paper: Next year we're going to be in the playoffs," Terrell said. "And if we aren't in the playoffs, I'll donate $100,000 to whatever charity you want me to donate it to. I'll put my money where my mouth is. I've got faith in my teammates, I've got faith in my coaches and in everybody in the organization."

King has a fan in Bears GM
It could be a Bear market for Shaun King in free agency. The Bucs quarterback has a big fan in Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who will plans to sign a new signal caller either through the draft or free agency.

"Where the deal is on Shaun, I feel it's still going up," said Angelo. "He's a young player. I think he's had some very good opportunities in Tampa. Unfortunately, they didn't come to fruition like he would've wanted, but that doesn't mean to say he can't play. He's got some good genetic gifts; he's a good kid. You know, the experience that he's picked up down there should bode well, assuming that he has a next stop. If he doesn't go back to Tampa."

King, 25, wrestled the No. 2 quarterback spot away from Rob Johnson and started Week 16 against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football. But making his first start in nearly two years, King completed just 9 of 26 passes for 73 yards in a 17-7 loss to the Steelers. His second attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Chad Brown. King was replaced in the third quarter by Rob Johnson and spent the remainder of the year as the inactive third quarterback. But he has a 15-10 record as a starter and helped the Bucs to the NFC Championship game as a rookie in '99.

"Hidden is a good word," said Angelo. "Hopefully he's a gem and not a rock."

Leaving on a jet plane
The New York Jets are among three interested in kicker Paul Edinger. The Bears tendered Edinger a one-year contract for $605,000, which assures them the right to match any offer to the restricted free agent or receive a sixth-round draft choice as compensation.

The Jets are seeking a replacement for John Hall, who signed a five-year, $7.1 million free agent deal Sunday with the Washington Redskins.

Edinger is the most accurate field goal kicker in franchise history at 80.2 percent.

TE returns
The Bears re-signed tight end John Davis to a one-year deal. Davis caught 20 balls last year for 193 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games with eight starts. He was inactive for the final five weeks of the season with a back injury.

Re-signed
The Bears re-signed fullback Stanley Pritchett to a one-year deal. Pritchett played in all 16 games in 2002 with two starts. The South Carolina product recorded 19 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Tafoya adds defensive line depth
The Bears signed exclusive free agent Joe Tafoya to a one-year deal. The defensive end will compete for a roster spot as a backup defensive end and tackle. Playing both positions will be a benefit when the cuts come at the end of training camp.

Colvin making the rounds
Reportedly there are 10 teams interested in talking to Bears linebacker Rosevelt Colvin. Colvin met with the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.

Clark signs six-year deal
TE Desmond Clark, a converted receiver who is certainly a stronger pass catcher than blocker, signed a six-year deal with the team.


DETROIT LIONS

Bly 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. The Vikings were interested in Bly, but never got a chance to visit with him.

Singleton visit with Lions went well
Buccaneers' free-agent linebacker Alshermond Singleton, who recorded 58 tackles during a breakthrough year with Tampa Bay in 2002, visited Detroit on Monday.

According to head coach Steve Mariucci per the Lions official web site, Singleton is a "heckuva player" and a "classy guy."

Singleton would demand less than what Bears' linebacker Rosevelt Colvin is asking, but is very similar to Lions' linebacker Barrett Green, a combination of speed and instincts that can cover the tight ends well. Singleton left without a contract offer.

Agent says Singleton happy with visit
Alshermond Singleton's agent, Mason Ashe, said Singleton was very happy with the response he got from the Lions and the three other teams wishing to talk to him. "It's a heartwarming experience for Al and it's something I don't think he's ever experienced before," Ashe said. "Teams started calling right away on Friday and it's a sign of a guy whose reputation precedes him. I thought I would have to go out and sell Al, but it's a very pleasant surprise that I don't have to do that."

Ashe said Singleton, like most Bucs players, prefers to stay in Tampa but ...

"He has enjoyed his stay there and is loyal to the team and is open to a return to Tampa Bay," Ashe said. "But as of (Monday night), there is no legitimate offer on the table. We have no choice but to explore our options."

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

LB signs with Steelers
LB Clint Kriewaldt has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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.

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.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Defensive tackle signs deal

The six-year contract for defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt was finalized last 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). With the contract, the team can remove the transition tag it put on him last month.

Holliday big adventures
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."

Of his visit to the Cardinals, he said: "In talking to the coaching staff, these guys are dedicated to getting this program on the right track and winning ballgames," Holliday told the Arizona Republic.

Holliday played five seasons in Green Bay but missed six games last year because of knee surgery and a torn pectoral muscle.

Recovering
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

Visits with Falcons
Cornerback Tyrone Williams visited with the Atlanta Falcons this week and plans to visit more teams, according to reports. Williams also has visited with the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have showed a renewed interest in Williams.

Never received a call from Sapp
Offensive tackle Chad Clifton, who suffered a season-ending injury as a result of a blindsided block by Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, said he is disappointed that Sapp never called him while he was in the hospital for four days. Clifton suffered a pelvic injury during the Nov. 24 game and missed the rest of the season. He is still recovering.

"I know this: If I had injured someone and they were in a Green Bay hospital for four days, I would definitely go to see him," Clifton told the Associated Press this week.

Clifton says he holds no grudges against Sapp, who has made no attempt to contact Clifton. He said there was nothing wrong with the block Sapp laid on him and he didn't think the intent was to cause him a career-ending injury.

"I'm not bitter toward him," Clifton said.

Let's make a deal?
A four-year, $6 million offer has been made to Packers safety. It requires a sixth-round draft pick as compensation. Bowen is giving the Packers a chance to match the offer and they have a week to do so.

Expected to visit with Falcons
Tod McBride, an unrestricted free agent, will visit with the Atlanta Falcons this week, according to reports. The Falcons are looking for a starter at cornerback after losing Ashley Ambrose in free agency and Juran Bolden to a serious knee injury.

Ambrose signed a four-year, $8 million contract with the New Orleans Saints earlier this week.

Does not receive a signing bonus
Wide receiver Karsten Bailey, who signed a two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers earlier this week, did not receive a signing bonus, according to a report.

Bailey's base salary for this year is $450,000, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. Entering his fourth season, Bailey is due a $200,000 roster bonus next year in addition to a $550,000 base salary.

One-year contract includes small bonus
Cornerback Bryant Westbrook, who signed a one-year contract with the Green Bay Packers last week, received a $35,000 signing bonus. His base salary will be $530,000, according to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Westbrook will compete with Bhawoh Jue to back up newly acquired Al Harris.


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