We're Black and Blue All Over:
So the New England Patriots signed quarterback Tom Brady to a far-below market value contract extension Monday, a three-year deal worth $27 million. That annual average of $9 million is less than half what the New Orleans Saints gave Drew Brees in a five-year, $100 million deal last year.
So how will Brady's deal impact negotiations for the three NFC North quarterbacks who will get new deals in the next year or so? My amateur guess: Not much.
Brady's deal is such an outlier, and the motivations are so clear -- a well-paid Hall of Fame quarterback wants to leave salary-cap space available for a final run to the Super Bowl as he approaches his 40th birthday -- that it would be difficult for a team to argue he brought the market down. It's not like the Brees deal vanished as a result. Like it or not, agents will continue to consider it the benchmark for future elite deals.
The guess is that the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford will be the first NFC North quarterback to complete his new contract, given the salary-cap implications. Stafford probably won't reach Brees money, but it won't be because of the Brady deal. Unless proven otherwise, I'll assume the Brady contract will stand on its own in terms of market direction.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The signs point to the Green Bay Packers keeping tight end Jermichael Finley, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com wonders if the Packers would re-sign defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who was released Monday by the Philadelphia Eagles.
It seems likely that the Packers will approach linebacker A.J. Hawk about restructuring his contract, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Minnesota Vikings are hoping that cornerback Antoine Winfield will become a part-time player in 2013, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. Coach Leslie Frazier: "[H]e doesn't need to be playing 60, 70 snaps [a game]. It's not good for him. I don't think it's the best thing for our team. We need him to be able to stay healthy, help us in the classroom, help us on the field. So, we definitely want him back, but we do need to reduce his snaps."
The Vikings are looking for a different kind of safety, writes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Here's some video of the Star Tribune's Dan Wiederer discussing the Vikings after the combine.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "If the Lions can't re-sign Cliff Avril before the start of free agency, they won't have too many enticing options to replace him."
The Lions had some interest in free-agent receiver Steve Breaston, according to several reporters via Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Former Chicago Bears linebacker Rosevelt Colvin thinks the team should bring back linebacker Brian Urlacher. Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune has more.
Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times addresses the issue of character and potential Bears draft choices.