I usually try to post a "Quick Hit" item to catch up after missing some blog time, but the Chicago Bears' activity over the past week merits its own post. That item will publish shortly. For now, let's catch up on the other 75 percent of the division.
Item: The Green Bay Packers are making progress on a contract extension for quarterback Aaron Rodgers that will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history.
Comment: A deal has been inevitable for years. It will set a record in the short-term and be eclipsed at some point afterwards. So there will be two points of significance for us. One is obvious: The deal will extend contract peace with the most important player on the Packers' roster. The other has yet to be evaluated: How a contract that presumably averages more than $20 million per season will impact the Packers' future salary-cap space.
Item: After much public debate, the Packers did not touch the contract of tight end Jermichael Finley. He received a $3 million roster bonus, will remain with the team in 2013 and be eligible for free agency after the season.
Comment: It seemed clear for some time that coach Mike McCarthy was encouraged by Finley's performance late last season and wanted him back. The departure of receiver Greg Jennings gave the Packers the financial flexibility to make it happen. At the moment, Finley has the second-highest 2013 compensation on the Packers' roster ($8.25 million). It will be up to him to earn it or almost certainly move on after the season.
Item: The Packers ensured offseason competition for place-kicker Mason Crosby for the first time in five years.
Comment: The choice, former Cal place-kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, isn't exactly a shoo-in to win the job. Last month, we discussed some context to explain the Packers' affinity for Crosby. He'll be the heavy favorite to win the job again unless the Packers were to sign a veteran with experience. But after his inconsistent 2012 season, it's only fair to bring in some level of competition.
Item: Packers linebacker Brad Jones got the kind of contract that makes you wonder what the team has planned for him.
Comment: The deal included a $3 million signing bonus, a $1 million base salary and a roster bonus of $18,750 for every game he is active. So if Jones is active for 16 games this season, he'll earn $4.3 million in 2013. That's not special-teams money, the role you would assume for Jones if A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Nick Perry and D.J. Smith are all healthy.
Item: The Detroit Lions scheduled a visit for place-kicker David Akers because they are stymied in negotiations with incumbent Jason Hanson.
Comment: This isn't an unusual tactic to spur negotiations, and it's worth noting that Akers kicked himself out of a job last season with the San Francisco 49ers. Hanson is still an excellent field goal kicker. On the other hand, cap-strapped NFL teams don't want to extend themselves on specialists.
Item: The Lions hosted free-agent receiver Darius Heyward-Bey on a visit.
Comment: It's pretty clear the Lions are looking for more depth at receiver after hosting Heyward-Bey and a number of the top receivers in the draft as well. The release of Titus Young and Ryan Broyles' ongoing knee recovery makes for an obvious need.
Comment: The uniforms will be revealed April 25 at the team's draft party. If the Vikings follow form with the mild updates to their logo in February, the uniform changes won't be significant.
Item: The father of Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace told the Miami Herald that the Vikings offered more money during Wallace's brief sojourn into the market.
Comment: Wallace seemed destined from the start to head to the warmer climate of Miami. The Vikings ended up with Jennings at $3 million less per season than Wallace signed for.
Item: The primary public funding mechanism for the Vikings' new stadium has fallen far below estimates.
Comment: Gov. Mark Dayton must figure out how to overcome a shortfall of more than $30 million. Electronic gambling revenues projections. created to fund the stadium, were dropped from $34 million to $1.7 million last week. As we discussed last month, there are two "blink-on" backup plans in place, a Vikings-themed lottery and a 10 percent tax on luxury suites, but projections could still fall short.