NFC North: Manny Lawson

Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove's visit this week to the Green Bay Packers, as first reported by Jason La Canfora of, tells us the team is serious about using free agency to improve a vexing hole in its defense.

The Packers' conservative approach to the open market in recent years has been well-documented, and historically they don't bring in players for visits if they don't have significant interest. Hargrove is the second veteran free agent to visit Lambeau Field this month. The first, center Jeff Saturday, signed a two-year contract worth $7.75 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Hargrove, 28, is an aggressive pass-rusher who also plays the run well. He projects as an end in the Packers' 3-4 scheme and can also play tackle when they use their nickel. He's listed at 272 pounds but played close to 300 pounds as recently as the 2010 season, when he was with the New Orleans Saints.

For a player who has never signed with an NFC North team, we've crossed paths often with Hargrove here on the blog.

We spent some time with him prior to Super Bowl XILV, allowing him to tell his story of addiction and recovery in his own words. In 2010, Hargrove visited the Detroit Lions and earlier this month, he released an extensive statement denying that he received a bounty for an illegal hit in the Saints' victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers have also been in contact with two other pass-rushers who might project as outside linebackers: Manny Lawson and Dave Tollefson. But to my knowledge, neither player has visited Lambeau Field. I don't know if that means Hargrove is necessarily the Packers' top priority among pass-rushers, but their recent history makes every visit noteworthy. Stay tuned.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We've lumped the Green Bay Packers into TebowWatch primarily because of some positive comments made two years ago by coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson. But citing a source, Jason Wilde of reports the Packers truly have legitimate interest in acquiring Tebow and are doing their due diligence on him and the potential trade market.

As Wilde points out, Thompson tends to be methodical and might not be willing to move quickly if other teams approach the Denver Broncos to pull off a trade soon. But it apparently is not something that has been written off inside the Packers' offices.

There is no reason not to at least discuss Tebow for a backup position, considering the Packers' tenuous situation behind starter Aaron Rodgers. Matt Flynn's departure leaves former No. 3 quarterback Graham Harrell as the presumed No. 2, but it's fair to consider all options before making that promotion. A backup quarterback is expected to find a way to win games if pressed into duty, and if nothing else, Tebow has shown he can do that.

Continuing around the NFC North: