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Monday, March 5, 2012
BBAO: Back, ready for franchise (tag) day

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Well hello there. I missed more than I thought I would last week, but not so much that we can't dig ourselves out. Let's see. The Chicago Bears placed the franchise tag on tailback Matt Forte, the Minnesota Vikings took an important step toward a new stadium and, oh yeah, the NFL announced that the New Orleans Saints ran an organized bounty system during the time they put a royal beating on then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

That should catch us up.

Ha. I'll hit those issues and more in greater detail Monday, but let's also remember that we've reached the deadline for the Detroit Lions to place the franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril if they choose. The sides have been working on a long-term contract but haven't reached an agreement. The deadline for using the tag is 4 p.m. ET, and (UPDATE) the Lions would eventually have to have enough salary-cap space -- about $11 million -- to fit in Avril's franchise number.

I don't think any other franchise news will come from the NFC North; we've already downplayed the possibility of the Green Bay Packers using theirs on quarterback Matt Flynn. But hang on. Today should be an interesting ride.

For now, let's take our morning stroll around the division: