Chris Wesseling

Offseason Low Down

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Team Notes: AFC East, North

Friday, March 25, 2011




AFC North

Bengals: Carson Palmer has every intention of following through with his retirement threat if the Bengals don't grant his trade wish. Standoffs are owner Mike Brown's version of the Super Bowl. The next time he gives into a player's demands will be the first time. Palmer will be back in tiger stripes or watching from his couch in September. … The Bengals are expected to target a first- or second-round QB as Palmer's replacement while also looking into veteran stopgaps such as Donovan McNabb. … Cedric Benson is considered the team's second priority in free agency behind CB Johnathan Joseph. Benson has his sights set on a mega-contract, overrating his own stock coming off a 3.5 yards per carry average last season. … Chad Ochocinco is a prime candidate to be moved (perhaps to New England), which would push late-season sensation Jerome Simpson up to No. 1 on the depth chart. The Bengals have also been connected to top prospects A.J. Green and Julio Jones at the No. 4 spot in the draft. … Rey Maualuga is expected to move to middle linebacker if Dhani Jones leaves via free agency.

Browns: Cleveland can't be ruled out as a darkhorse candidate in the Kevin Kolb derby considering GM Tom Heckert drafted him four years ago and Pat Shurmur tutored him for two years. The Browns remain high on Colt McCoy, though, and he's still the heavy favorite to pilot Shurmur's West Coast offense this year. … Seneca Wallace was a re-signed to a three-year deal at a top backup's rate; Jake Delhomme still seems likely to be released. … Shurmur and Mike Holmgren have both been trumpeting a tandem backfield with a healthy Montario Hardesty joining Peyton Hillis. As long as Hardesty's knee remains up to the task, Hillis owners can expect a more inconsistent workload in 2011. It's not a bad idea to shop him around in Dynasty and keeper leagues. … Despite his utter lack of play-making ability, Brian Robiskie has drawn praise from Shurmur as a great fit for the West Coast scheme. Chalk that one up to wishful thinking and expect the Browns to address the position in the draft and perhaps free agency as well. … Chansi Stuckey was non-tendered, making him a free agent. … Re-signed to a one-year contract, D'Qwell Jackson is expected to shift to the weak side with Chris Gocong at middle linebacker.

Ravens: The coaching staff plans to put more responsibility on Joe Flacco's shoulders this year as he becomes the face of the offense. Emerging as a team leader and a true franchise QB, Flacco is expected to receive a long-term extension next offseason. … Backup Marc Bulger will fly the coop as a free agent. … The Ravens have every intention of releasing Willis McGahee rather than paying his $6 million salary. Ray Rice's backup could end up being coaching-staff favorite Jalen Parmele or free agent fullback Le'Ron McClain -- if the latter is brought back with more ball-toting responsibilities. … Derrick Mason plans to return for a 15th season, but the Ravens are fully expected to aggressively pursue a downfield play-maker early in the draft. Maryland burner Torrey Smith has been strongly linked to Baltimore in mock drafts. … Free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth are not expected back. … S Tom Zbikowski is serious about ramping up his boxing career after knocking out his last opponent two minutes into the bout. … Future Hall of Famer Ed Reed now claims he has four or five years of football left in his body.

Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger ended up avoiding surgery on his cracked right foot. … Coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that Rashard Mendenhall will continue to receive one of the heaviest workloads in the NFL. Mendy could pick up snaps on third downs as well if free agent Mewelde Moore isn't brought back. … Hines Ward of Dancing with the Stars fame underwent a knee scope after the Super Bowl. He'll add thumb surgery after his dancing career fizzles out. … Emmanuel Sanders, who essentially played starter's snaps from Week 10 on, underwent surgery to repair a minor fracture in his foot. The injury won't be a factor next season. … Troy Polamalu played through a "slight tear" in his Achilles' tendon from December through the Super Bowl, explaining his loss of explosion. He's expected to recover without surgery. … … OLB James Harrison is expected to be back to 100 percent by summer time after undergoing back surgery. … Free agent CB Ike Taylor is considered likely to re-sign with Pittsburgh.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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