We're Black and Blue All Over:
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides the hard numbers that will make it so difficult for the Green Bay Packers to use their franchise tag on quarterback Matt Flynn, with the purposes of trading him, rather than simply allowing him to leave via free agency.
The basics: The Packers have about $113.3 million already allocated for a 2012 cap expected to remain around $120 million. That means they have around $7 million in wiggle room. But using their tag on Flynn would require a $14 million commitment, requiring them to clear at least another $7 million -- and that's if they don't do any other contracts all offseason.
Tight end Jermichael Finley and center Scott Wells, among others, are pending free agents. The Packers probably want to keep both, but it would be tough to squeeze in the 2012 cap numbers of their presumptive new contracts while also leaving Flynn's $14 million on the books even in a temporary situation. A more likely scenario would be to let Flynn depart and use the remaining space on a deal for Wells, and perhaps a much-cheaper franchise tag on Finley.
Teams can do any single move they want in the cap era if they're willing to sacrifice in other areas. In this case, would it be worth it to get an extra draft pick or two for Flynn if it means losing Finley and/or Wells in the process? I'm guessing no.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The New York Giants used the 2010 Packers as motivation in their run to the Super Bowl, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if Packers running back James Starks is ready to be the team's unquestioned starter in 2012.
Giants linebacker Michael Boley is a signature draft pick of new Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears would be advised to invest in a veteran backup quarterback, Giants backup David Carr told Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner told Peggy Kusinski of NBC Chicago that the Bears needed better receivers to succeed in former coordinator Mike Martz's offense.
The agent for Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril is in talks with the team about a long-term contract, according to Tim Twentyman of the team's website.
Avril doesn't want the Lions to use their franchise tag to keep him, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't surprised by the success of Lions coach Jim Schwartz. Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com explains.
Financial troubles facing the NBA's Target Center in Minneapolis are proving a hurdle in the Minnesota Vikings' stadium drive, writes Maya Rao of the Star Tribune.