NFC North: Neil Conrich

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

INDIANAPOLIS -- There isn't much precedent for how Green Bay should deal with the lingering issue of right tackle Mark Tauscher, who is rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee as he approaches free agency next week.

NFL teams don't often take financial risks with injured players, and Tauscher's value would seem to increase as he recovers over the course of the spring. That's the scenario general manager Ted Thompson laid out during a meeting with reporters Friday -- waiting until Tauscher is cleared medically before making him a significant offer -- but agent Neil Cornrich told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he expected Tauscher to be signed elsewhere before then.

Cornrich said: "From a medical standpoint, it's not really a big issue anymore" and added:

"Do they have someone better to play the position? Were they better than him? Would there be reason to think they'd be better than him this season?"

This could all be considered classic agent posturing on the part of Cornrich, who naturally wants to increase the pressure on Green Bay to make an offer now rather than later. It's always possible that Cornrich could find a team with a high risk tolerance that's willing to take Tauscher on earlier this spring.

But I doubt that scenario will impact Thompson's thinking. If he wants Tauscher back, it'll be on his terms.

Continuing around the NFC North on a fine Saturday morning here:

  • The Packers likely will initiate contract extension talks with the agent for receiver Greg Jennings, who has one year left on his current contract. Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette examines the situation.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times reports the Bears have had contact with the agent for impending free agent offensive lineman John St. Clair.
  • Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune breaks down the receiver pool at the combine. Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree said he has spoken with several members of the Bears' staff. But it's pretty unlikely he'll be available at the Bears' No. 18 overall pick.
  • Minnesota center Matt Birk, a pending free agent, said he wants to return to the Vikings, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. His agent spoke with team officials Friday.
  • The Vikings are urging tailback Adrian Peterson to scale back his off-the-field commitments this offseason. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has details.
  • Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said he plans to initiate contract discussions with multiple players in early April and wants to have a contract agreement in place with the No. 1 overall pick well before the draft. John Niyo of the Detroit News reports.
  • Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com wonders if left tackle Jeff Backus really is willing to move to left guard, as Mayhew has indicated.
  • David Birkett of the Oakland Press considers Daunte Culpepper the "heavy favorite" to enter training camp as the Lions' starting quarterback.
  • USC quarterback Mark Sanchez had lunch with Lions officials Thursday afternoon, reports Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD