Black and Blue all over: Now, back to the draft

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Tuesday's NFL schedule release overshadowed, for a minute or two, the quick-approaching draft that is now only 10 days away.

The first domino is Detroit's efforts to sign the No. 1 overall pick, whomever he might be. But Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press suggests discussions have not moved past the preliminary stages with any of the three primary candidates: Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

There is no particular need for intense discussions this week, but if the Lions really want to have someone signed before the draft starts April 25, then you can expect things to heat up as soon as this weekend. The pivot point will occur if and when talks get bogged down: Do the Lions give up negotiations with their top choice and move on to Plan B? Or will they ultimately draft an unsigned player? Stay tuned.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • The Lions claimed receiver Will Franklin off waivers from Kansas City, according to multiple reports. The Chiefs surprisingly waived him Monday. Franklin was a fourth-round draft choice in 2008.

  • Drew Sharp of the Free Press predicts the Lions' 2009 schedule will leave them 0-6 and, at best, 3-13 by the end of the season. Sharp: "And that's only if divine intervention kisses the Lions."

  • Green Bay signed nose tackle Brandon Soi on Tuesday, the team announced. Soi spent some time with the New York Giants last season.

  • Tony Walter of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that local Wisconsin hotels didn't face the same reservation mania Tuesday night as in previous years when the schedule was announced. The economy is blamed.

  • Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette: "[Coach Mike McCarthy] should have been dancing down Lombardi Avenue, or at the very least doing cartwheels in the Atrium. The schedule is tailor-made for the Packers."

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune outlines a way the Bears will open 3-1 and march on to the playoffs thanks to their 2009 schedule.

  • The Bears will open training camp July 31, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Only three and a half months away!

  • The Vikings have a chance to open the season strongly despite having their first two games on the road, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.