Black and Blue all over: The Williams Wall

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The NFL's StarCaps case should be decided before the 2009 season begins. But not much before.

That's the upshot of Tuesday's news that a Minnesota judge has set a June 15 trial date for Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, along with three New Orleans players (two current and one former), in their lawsuit to prevent four-game suspensions for violating the league's policy on using banned substances.

Absent an out-of-court settlement, the process will drag on for at least the rest of the NFL offseason. The Vikings will be left to guess as they make contingency plans for the possibility of opening the 2009 season with both players suspended, which would be the result if the NFL prevails in the case.

Here are detailed accounts of the situation from Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.

Now let's continue around the NFC North:

  • One possible free-agency target for Minnesota is Baltimore offensive lineman Jason Brown, according to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • The Vikings agreed to terms on a one-year contract with cornerback Charles Gordon, who missed the final seven games of 2008 after dislocating his left ankle. Gordon was set to become a restricted free agent but instead will receive up to $1.3 million in 2009. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune reports.

  • Chad O'Shea, recently promoted to be the Vikings' assistant special teams coach, left the organization to become New England's receivers coach, according to Zulgad.

  • Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton on the mixed messages the Bears have sent on his future: "I know [general manager Jerry Angelo is] behind me. A lot of that stuff can be taken out of context. I feel I have the support of this organization. I'm going to do everything I can to prove to them that I'm the guy." Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reports.

  • Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press provides some excerpts of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford's interview with Sports Illustrated. Stafford expressed eagerness to play for the Lions.

  • Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel matches up players at the combine with the Green Bay Packers' needs.