We're Black and Blue All Over:
So we've been sidetracked a bit with two intra-division stories: The Minnesota Vikings' cursory talks with Chicago Bears free agent linebacker Brian Urlacher, and the Vikings' decision to host Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings on a visit Thursday morning. So before things get any crazier, let's touch base in all four NFC North markets for some local analysis of the first days of free agency:
Packers guard T.J. Lang landed a playful jab on the Detroit Lions' free-agent success, tweeting: "So do the lions get hats and t shirts for winning the off season NFC north title?"
Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press: "On the day the world got a new pope, the Lions got a new running back. Both were blessed events. What Pope Francis will be asked to do for the world's Catholics might be more demanding than what Reggie Bush will be asked to do for the Detroit offense. On the other hand, the Lions could use some divine help. Which, around here, means establishing a rushing attack that, despite new faces year after year, hasn't really had a pulse since Barry Sanders was taking the ball."
John Niyo of the Detroit News: "With Bush signed, the Lions have to do more than just tease their fans with highlights this time."
The Packers want Greg Jennings back, reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but only at their price.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "[I]n most instances, NFL teams try not to allow free-agent visitors to leave without signing a contract with them."
The Packers are negotiating not only with Jennings but also running back Steven Jackson, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune: "At some point, [the Vikings] need a splash to replenish the talent pool in a major way. And there’s no way they should allow themselves -- nor had they ever planned to -- to get to April’s draft with [Jerome] Simpson as their top receiver."
The timing of Jennings' visit makes sense, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
The Bears are rebuilding only at the surface, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: "If we could get our hands on some truth serum, I’d bet Jay Cutler would admit Tuesday was a better day than his wedding day July 13 will be. Nothing against fiancée Kristin Cavallari and the upcoming nuptials, but she can’t protect Cutler’s blind side. She has enough on her plate trying to bring out his soft side."
The Bears are planning to shift J'Marcus Webb from left tackle to a competition at right tackle, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.