NFC North: David Garrard
It's quite possible that the attention on Peyton Manning's departure from the Indianapolis Colts caused you to miss the Jerry Springer-worthy opening statements from the felony strangulation trial of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook.
Prosecutors stuck to the story laid out in the original charges, saying that Cook struck and choked his girlfriend after learning she was texting with another man during the early-morning hours of Oct. 22. Cook's attorney, however, provided a different version of the story.
It's all in this Associated Press report, but the short version is that the argument began at a Minneapolis strip club. Cook ordered a lap dance, enraging his girlfriend, whereupon she stormed out. Drunk, the girlfriend began texting the other man, which deflated Cook because, the attorney said, Cook planned to propose to her later that weekend.
According to Cook's version, the girlfriend punched him when they returned to his home. Cook retaliated in self-defense. The girlfriend will recant her earlier testimony that Cook choked her, according to Cook's attorney.
In the end, this ridiculousness is important only because a felony conviction would jeopardize Cook's future with the team. We'll keep you updated.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- One of the Vikings' stadium bill authors has outlined a tight timetable to receive legislative approval this year. Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune explains.
- USC left tackle Matt Kalil, who could be the Vikings' top pick in the draft, speaks with the NFL Network following a short Pro Day workout.
- Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune questions whether Kyle Orton will be the Chicago Bears' backup quarterback in 2012.
- Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com considers former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard a more realistic option for the Bears.
- Bears coach Lovie Smith spent time with Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill this week, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
- After a toxicology report revealed their son died with alcohol and marijuana in his system, former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and his family released a statement that read, in part: "The loss of a child and sibling is absolutely heartbreaking to a family. Ours is no different. We hope that the results of the recent toxicology report serves as a reminder to us all that the mixture of alcohol and marijuana can be extremely dangerous, potentially even fatal." Patricia Wolff of Gannett Wisconsin has more.
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if Packers general manager Ted Thompson attended Wisconsin's pro day to see guard Kevin Zeitler, who is being projected as a center.
- The Detroit Lions aren't viewing the Packers as a measuring stick, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
For those interested in such things: The Green Bay official who negotiated quarterback Aaron Rodgers' rookie contract offers an interesting take on how much money Rodgers lost when San Francisco bypassed him and selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall choice in the 2005 draft.
In short, here is what Andrew Brandt wrote over at The National Football Post: Smith received more guaranteed money in his first (and perhaps only) contract than Rodgers likely will receive in his first two.
Smith's $49 million deal included $24 million guaranteed. Rodgers, selected 24 spots behind Smith, received a $7.7 million deal with $4.13 million guaranteed.
Rodgers' contract expires after the 2009 season, meaning it's likely the Packers will approach him sometime this winter to discuss an extension -- provided, of course, he establishes himself as their long-term starter. According to Brandt's analysis, Rodgers would be in line for a deal similar to the one Jacksonville gave quarterback David Garrard in the offseason. They key number: $18 million guaranteed.
This is all very preliminary for a quarterback with one NFL start. But let's say Rodgers and his new agent, David Dunn, extract a decent bump from Garrard's numbers and sign a deal with $19 million guaranteed. Rodgers' first two NFL contracts, then, would have combined for $23.13 million in guarantees -- a total just short of Smith's rookie contract.
Comparing Rodgers and Smith is an extreme case, but it illustrates the disparity in the NFL current rules for determining rookie pay scale.