NFC North: Richmond McGee

We're only a few hours into the NFL's post-lockout world, but we're already getting answers to some key personnel questions we spent the offseason discussing.

Maynard
Maynard
Here is one of the first. ESPNChicago.com cousin Jeff Dickerson has confirmed the Chicago Bears won't re-sign free agent Brad Maynard, their punter for the past 10 seasons. The team informed Maynard of the decision late Monday afternoon in a story first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

This move isn't entirely unexpected, but it's still a bit jarring to see a core member of a special teams juggernaut cast aside. Maynard is 37 and his performance dipped a bit in 2010, but age is relative when it comes to punters and place-kickers in the NFL. A reliable specialist is one of the most underrated comforts in football.

A snippet from our original discussion in March:
It's true that Maynard's 35.2-yard net average ranked 30th among NFL punters last season, but he did drop 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. Veteran savvy and experience are as valuable to kicking specialists as any position on the game, and Maynard's career total of 407 punts downed inside the 20 are the second-most in the NFL over the past 35 seasons.

Still, the Bears have made the decision to move on and assuredly have a priority list for replacements. They have longtime camp leg Richmond McGee on their roster, and ESPNChicago.com offers three veteran possibilities: Sam Koch, Adam Podlesh and Steve Weatherford. Negotiations can begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. Stay tuned.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Many of you have asked if Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris, who was released midway through last season, would receive a Super Bowl ring. The answer, according to president/CEO Mark Murphy, is yes.

During a Tailgate Tour on Thursday, a fan asked Murphy directly. (Citizen journalism!) According to Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Murphy said yes. He also added that the team has tentatively scheduled a June 16 ceremony to give out rings. That could change, obviously, based on the lockout.

Harris suffered a severe knee injury in November 2009 and opened the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list. He practiced with the Packers for three weeks before the team decided to release him Nov. 8 rather than add him to the active roster. He eventually signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he played three games before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the season.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn about rumors he could be traded, via the Press-Gazette: "I don't know. I really haven't been paying too much attention to it. The whole labor issues, just kind of been focusing on that. Who knows what the deal is. I love being a Packer and I'll be here as long as they want me. It's all kind of speculation right now, of what people want to write or whatever they want to say. You can't say that anybody wants me or doesn't want me. We'll see what happens. I just like where I am right now."
  • An active campaign is underway to keep the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis despite their recent site agreement with Ramsey County, according to the Star Tribune.
  • Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com examines the value of new Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.
  • Health care is a big part of the lockout, Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril told Adam Biggers of Mlive.com.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will speak with Lions season-ticket holders on Thursday via conference call, according to the Detroit Free Press.
  • Chicago Bears backup quarterback Caleb Hanie said that Bears players have held no quarterback-receiver team workouts, via ESPN 1000.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune speaks with punter Richmond McGee, who signed a futures contract with the team and is a candidate to replace veteran Brad Maynard.

Bears sign emergency punter

December, 28, 2009
12/28/09
1:31
PM ET
CHICAGO -- With punter Brad Maynard nursing a sore groin, the Bears signed punter Richmond McGee on Monday after an emergency tryout session. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has the story.

McGee spent time with the Bears in training camp this summer, but it’s not a lock that he will punt Monday night against Minnesota. The Bears plan to put Maynard through a series of tests during pregame warmups and will use him if they can.

The deadline for signing a replacement is 4 p.m. ET, so with an 8:30 p.m. kickoff, they needed to make a move before Maynard’s workout. They'll need to create a roster spot for McGee regardless. According to the team's Twitter feed, the Bears will place defensive end Adewale Ogunleye on injured reserve.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Many of you have asked about the future of former Chicago safety Mike Brown, who the team decided against re-signing this offseason. Brown has begun making free-agent visits, most recently Monday at Cleveland.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports Brown toured the Browns' practice facility. The team's interest is unknown, but it's likely Cleveland would be looking for veteran depth behind starters Abram Elam and Brodney Pool.

Brown has also visited Kansas City. He is 31 and has a well-documented past of injuries. But Brown did manage to start 15 games last season and might not be done with his career.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • The Bears had two punters in for workouts Tuesday, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Derrick Frost and Richmond McGee both kicked for team officials.
  • Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris on the troublesome left knee that has forced him to sit out much of the team's organized team activities: "That's how injuries go: one minute up, next down. You just hope the up comes faster than the down." Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune has the story.
  • Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune reports Minnesota was believed to be in contract negotiations with the agent for quarterback Brett Favre this week. I think that is a likely explanation for why the Vikings have temporarily suspended their pursuit of Favre.
  • Agent Bus Cook declined comment to Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Green Bay tailback Ryan Grant is focusing on explosiveness this offseason, writes Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • Detroit coach Jim Schwartz will serve as the honorary starter for the Lifelock 400 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Here's the press release.
  • Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes there are consistency problems with right tackle Gosder Cherilus.

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