Good Morning, AFC North!

Good Morning, AFC North!
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Should the Bengals Try and Sign Donte Whitner, Again?

Once again Whitner will be testing the waters in free agency. At 28 years old there is still some trade on the tires for a guy that is known for big hits. However, his coverage has come under question lately.

He is not the premiere name at the position this offseason. Guys like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Wardwill command the top spots as far as cash to sign with a new team. [Whitner is a second-tier] kind of guy that the Bengals would consider making a run at if they feel safety is a position they should attack.

After confirming he signed a deal with the Bengals two years ago, only to end up playing for San Francisco, Whitner could be an option for the Bengals. While CB is a more pressing need, Whitner would be an upgrade over Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker. However, even as a “second-tier” available safety, Whitner is still talented, and could command a large salary.





Should the Cleveland Browns make a play for Jairus Byrd and at what cost? 

Imagine Ward and Byrd in the same secondary. It would make for a dynamic tandem [that could] eliminate the Browns’ problems on third downs, [where] they ranked next to last, allowing a 44.7 conversion rate last season.

Ward is tough against the run. Byrd has 22 career interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in five seasons. the Browns could continue to utilize hard-hitting free safety Tashaun Gipson [in sub-packages]. Toss in All-Pro corner Joe Haden and you have a secondary with serious bite.

But that’s a ton of cash to commit to two positions, likely $16 million or more per season. Byrd reportedly was offered $30 million over three seasons. It also doesn’t seem financially responsible with Haden, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron eventually needing extensions.

Pettine said he views safeties as interchangeable, so any combination of Ward, Gipson and Byrd is possible. As the article points out, it isn’t wise to commit so much money to one position. The Browns should only pursue one of either Ward or Byrd to pair with Gipson, and they could afford to pay either one top dollar.





Mock Draft: Ravens take Odell Beckham, Jr. at pick No. 17

[LSU receiver] Odell Beckham Jr. helped himself by running really fast at the combine. He has a real chance to be drafted over Marqise Lee, and that’s exactly what happens here. The Ravens have taken notice [of Beckham’s rising stock].

Receivers taken ahead of Beckham in this latest mock are Sammy Watkins (fourth overall, Browns) and Mike Evans (seventh overall, Buccaneers). Receivers still on the board after this pick are Brandin Cooks (23rd overall, Chiefs) and Marqise Lee (28th overall, Jets via trade).

While the draft is still eons away in NFL terms, the Ravens should still consider taking a tackle with the seventeenth pick, as both Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher could leave in free agency. Picking a tackle outside of the top 5 or ten doesn’t necessarily get you a franchise tackle, but it may be a position of need.





Getting it right at outside linebacker is crucial for Steelers

[Historically successful at developing linebackers] the Steelers suddenly are having a hard time getting it right at, arguably, the most important position in their 3-4 defense.

The Steelers gave LaMarr Woodley a huge, multi-year deal before the 2011 season, and he hasn’t come close to living up to it. They drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round of the NFL draft last spring and, though it’s way too early to label him a bust, he had a disappointing rookie season.

Now, after misjudging the potential of Jason Worilds a year ago, they are facing the possibility of having to overpay to keep him. Now, the team has the right to match any offer he receives. If no other club gives him an offer sheet, the Steelers will have to pay him $9,754,000 next season in a one-year deal.

The Steelers have some difficult decisions to make. Releasing Ike Taylor would create $7 million in cap space immediately. Releasing Woodley before June 1st, to create immediate cap space, would cost the Steelers $14 million, $1 million more than it would cost to keep him. Renegotiating with Polamalu is another avenue to consider. I disagree that the Steelers should have franchise tagged Worilds. While it would have ensured he stays, has he proven he can produce consistently?



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