We're Black and Blue All Over:
Running back Kahlil Bell's departure Thursday from the Chicago Bears wasn't completely unexpected. Bell was playing behind two well-paid veterans, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and backups Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker have been impressive in training camp. The timing, however, was unusual and in the end reflects the bad blood that can be a part of the NFL's restricted free-agent (RFA) system.
RFAs are rarely pursued on the free-agent market because of compensation that would be due to the original team. Usually, they are left with no choice but to sign a one-year tender offer. As an undrafted player with three years of experience, the Bears tendered him at $1.26 million.
That's a nice salary for a third-string running back in exchange for losing the chance to sign elsewhere. Recently, however, the Bears made the perfectly legal request that he take a pay cut to $700,000, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. The value was slightly more than the veteran's minimum for a fourth-year player, but it essentially robbed him of his rights as a RFA. Against what was probably his better judgment, Bell denied the request and asked for his release, according to the Tribune.
In the end, this episode won't impact the Bears' fortunes in 2012. But I would imagine the NFL Players Association would seek ways to stop teams from in essence preventing a player's movement in the offseason, in exchange for a higher salary, and then cutting back that salary a few months later.
Let's continue around the NFC North, noting that we addressed the Green Bay Packers earlier Friday morning:
Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com profiles Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery.
At least at the beginning of the season, the Bears plan to use rookie defensive end Shea McClellin when opponents are in obvious passing downs, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rookie Kellen Moore is now one of three quarterbacks on the Detroit Lions' roster after the release of R.J. Archer and appears to be on his way to a roster spot, writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Hopes are high for the NFL debut of Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, who hasn't played in a game since Dec. 29, 2010, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Lions receiver Titus Young on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News: "He's about one thing, and that's ballin'. You always want a coach to be about ballin', not all that other stuff. By coming to meetings and stuff, I know one thing's on his mind, and that's getting his playmakers the football and winning."
Receiver Michael Jenkins is hoping to be a starter for the Minnesota Vikings in the absence of Jerome Simpson, writes Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams, via Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune: "We can be a top-10 defense. We just have to make sure as a coaching staff, we're in tune to making sure guys are detailed about carrying out their assignments."
It appears pretty likely that Vikings tight end John Carlson is going to miss the entire preseason after spraining his knee July 31, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.