NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers

No NFC North teams used their franchise or transition tags yesterday, meaning players who looked like candidates, such as Packers cornerback Sam Shields and Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, appear likely to hit the open market next week. While we wait to see if those players work out anything with their respective teams, let’s check out the latest on the Bears, Lions, and Packers….

  • Defensive lineman Corey Wootton is still rehabbing from hip surgery, but he expects to be fully healthy by July, as he tells Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. Although Wootton says he’d love to return to the Bears, the 26-year-old expects to “test the market and see what’s out there” in free agency. Assuming teams are confident in his full recovery, Wootton should receive plenty of interest beginning next week.
  • While he thinks the Bears could consider free agent safeties T.J. Ward and Jairus Byrd if the price is right, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times hears from a source that the club has not expressed any interest in Louis Delmas.
  • $370K of Roberto Garza‘s potential $1.5MM salary for 2014 is tied to weekly roster bonuses, so the Bears have a little built-in injury protection on their center, says Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Because first-round picks don’t cost as much as they did under the old CBA, GM Martin Mayhew and the Lions are comfortable taking the best player available at No. 10 rather than feeling pressure to take someone at a key position, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press details.
  • In a separate piece for the Free Press, Birkett looks at a few Detroit free agents, writing that the Lions continue to work on a new deal for Pettigrew, but are comfortable letting him test the market next week if no agreement has been reached.
  • The Texans are talking to tight end Garrett Graham about a new contract, but if the team lets him reach the open market, the Packers will have interest, according to Ian Rapoport of, who says Green Bay has liked Graham since he came out of Wisconsin in 2010 (Twitter links).
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