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Black and Blue all over: Winfield near deal

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
As far as I'm concerned, summer is over. It was a nice run. Vacation was great. Birds were singing. The sun was shining. People were laughing. Now, it's time to get back to business. It's really not that hard to come back from vacation when your job is to write about football.

As it turns out, I arrived just in time for what appears to be a successful conclusion to the negotiations between Minnesota and cornerback Antoine Winfield. I've preached patience as these talks have stopped and started during the offseason, and it appears that an agreement is imminent.

Agent Ashanti Webb was scheduled to arrive Wednesday night in the Twin Cities. That doesn't mean the deal is done, but it's rare for an agent to travel if a deal isn't within reach. It seems inevitable the Vikings will have an announcement before most players report to training camp July 29, and it could come as early as today. The contract will allow Winfield to finish his career with the organization and eliminates any discontent as camp approaches.

Here is coverage from the Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the situation. Now let's take a quick look around the NFC North:

  • A judge will decide by Aug. 7 whether Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams can continue their lawsuit against the NFL in Minnesota state court. The league believes its steroid testing policy should be subject only to federal laws. Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press explains Wednesday's legal action.

  • Detroit's trade of receiver Ronald Curry means Dennis Northcutt is the top candidate to be the Lions' No. 3 receiver, notes John Niyo of the Detroit News.

  • Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has been active on the trade market this offseason, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press. He has acquired cornerback Anthony Henry, linebacker Julian Peterson, defensive end Orien Harris and Northcutt.

  • Green Bay's agreement with rookie fullback Quinn Johnson leaves them with their two first-round choices as their only unsigned draft picks. I'll update our award-winning draft choice chart later Thursday.

  • The NFC North blog makes an appearance in a David Haugh column in the Chicago Tribune. Haugh is among the roughly eight million people who disagreed with our quarterback rankings last week.

  • Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago breaks down the Bears' safety position.