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State of AFC North: Elam cements bust status; Steelers make moves; could Revis Island relocate to the AFC North?

The Steelers lock up two star players, one long-term and one with the franchise tag. Cleveland fans remain delusional about how their team is viewed by free agents. Matt Elam gets a ticket out of Baltimore.

NFL: Preseason-New York Jets at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have accumulated 11 draft picks, and they are set to be active during the draft with potential trades again. Could the Steelers be a landing spot for Darrelle Revis if (cough, when) he gets cut? The Steelers also locked up Antonio Brown with a four-year, $68 million contract extension. And, placed the exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell. Ravens 2013 first round draft pick and soon-to-be free agent Matt Elam was arrested on multiple drug charges over the weekend. It’s safe to say he has officially become a bust.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers place exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell

The Steelers have placed the exclusive franchise tag on running back Le'Veon Bell.

Players under the franchise tag have until July 15 to reach a long-term contract agreement with their club. If Bell is unable to agree with the Steelers on a long-term deal and signs his tender, running backs under the tag are expected to make about $12 million for the 2017 season.

The Bengals should get used to facing Bell for the long-term and beef up their run defense further this offseason.

Steeles give Antonio Brown NFL’s richest WR contract

The Steelers have awarded star wide receiver Antonio Brown with a four year, $68 million contract extension, making him the NFL's highest paid wide receiver. Brown's contract keeps him in Pittsburgh through the 2021 season, and it knocks A.J. Green off his throne as the NFL's highest paid receiver.

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has played a pivotal role in locking down Brown in Bengals vs Steelers games. It remains to be seen if Kirkpatrick will be re-signed to continue in that role for years to come. Brown scored zero touchdowns and accumulated just 97 yards in two games against the Bengals in 2016. His two games against the Bengals last season were among his worst games of the year. Hopefully, the Bengals

Could Pittsburgh bring Revis home?

Revis is almost certain to be let go by the Jets. New York would save around $9 million by letting the veteran corner loose after a rough season. And, rough offseason as he was arrested for his involvement in a street fight last week. The question then becomes where he ends up. According to Peter King three teams stick out as suitors: the Patriots, Packers and Steelers.

The Patriots don’t seem likely as they already parted ways with Revis once, and Revis doesn’t seem to be the same player as he was the first time around. But the Patriots are a strategic team. Also Revis has shown he has no qualms returning to a team he’s had bad blood with as he returned to the Jets after spending time with the Patriots and Buccaneers in between his two contracts in New York.

The Packers are interesting because they have a huge need at corner, but there are so many better, younger options on the market in this free agent class. Although recently, the Packers, like the Bengals, have steered away from making a big splash in free agency, so if Revis is willing to take a paycut (which he’s hinting toward being) he may be a potential target for Green Bay.

That leaves Pittsburgh. The Steelers have needed improved cornerback play for a while, and what better way to address the problem than by bringing a homegrown kid back to town. Revis played his college career at the University of Pittsburgh. The Steelers just re-signed Antonio Brown and used the exclusive franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, but if Revis wants to take a pay cut to chase another ring, this may be his chance.

For most of these teams it comes down to whether Revis wants another shot at the most money he can get, or if he wants to win another ring. During his career, Revis has not been shy about choosing the first option. Even when he won a ring with New England he was making an insane amount of money for a defender at the time. A poor season may affect his value slightly, as will his arrest, but a tiger doesn’t change his stripes. Expect Revis to chase that dollar sign one last time, and who could blame him? It could be his last contract in the NFL.

Although, if he signed with the Steelers it’d be nice to see this happen twice per season.

Bell avoids groin surgery

There’s some more good news for the Steelers and Bell early this offseason. Bell has avoided a serious concern about his groin injury. There was a chance Bell needed surgery, but, it looks like he’s going to avoid that. Bell would’ve likely missed some offseason time, and he would have required rehab to get back to 100%, costing him practices and strength building during the offseason.

However, Bell hasn’t scheduled a surgery and that would’ve been required at this point if it was going to happen. That is fortunate for him as he is headed into a season on the franchise tag. Bell going into next season healthy is his best chance at cashing in next offseason on a big-time deal.

Baltimore Ravens

Elam secures status as a bust

On Saturday night, Elam was arrested on drug charges in Miami. Elam was found with 126.2 grams of marijuana and three grams of oxycodone after being pulled over for driving recklessly.

Elam is set to become a free agent on March 9, but the Ravens have already made it clear he won’t be returning to Baltimore. It’s hard to imagine any other team giving him a lucrative shot either. The best he can hope for is a one year deal with incentives.

Elam was the Ravens’ first pick after winning the Super Bowl, and he hasn’t done much of anything in his NFL career. Elam’s best season was his rookie year when he recorded 77 tackles and had his only interception of his career. The next three years would be spent recovering from injuries and competing for a shot at starting.

It is safe to say that this shouldn’t tarnish the whole “in Ozzie we trust” mantra that Ravens fans live by during this time of year, but it shows that not every first round pick is perfect.

Ravens get a third round compensatory pick

The Ravens managed only one compensatory pick, but it was nearly as good of a pick as you could get, the 99th overall pick in the draft, the third best compensatory selection. (The Bengals actually had that pick back in 2015 and used it on linebacker P.J. Dawson.) Last offseason, the Ravens lost Kelechi Osemele and Courtney Upshaw while bringing in Eric Weddle, who had a career year, and Benjamin Watson, who missed the entire season due to injury.

The compensatory pick algorithm seems confusing sometimes. It is meant to reward teams that lose talented players, but the Ravens didn’t manage to bring in many free agents that made an impact. The value of a lost free agent is based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

The third round pick is obviously in reference to the Osemele loss, and clearly his salary and playing time had a big impact, but it is hard to say a team deserves a third round pick when in the same offseason it brought in another Pro Bowler. Although, as Bengals fans, it is hard to complain when Cincinnati got a compensatory pick in 2015 for a player they ended up re-signing (Michael Johnson).

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland up to 11 draft picks

The Browns spent the 2016 offseason letting a bunch of their talented players leave for other teams while only bringing in Demario Davis. This led to them receiving the maximum number of compensatory picks a team could be awarded with, four. This is also the first draft where teams are able to trade compensatory picks, so it makes it all the more interesting for Cleveland. (The Bengals also have four compensatory picks this year.)

Last year, the Browns showed they weren’t afraid to move around the draft board as the club traded out of the second spot when they weren’t sold on Carson Wentz. The Browns managed to trade back again before ending up with Corey Coleman. They made three other trades during the 2016 draft and added 14 total players. It isn’t crazy to think we see them moving around again.

If I could put my money on one thing during the draft, it’s that Cleveland won’t pick at No. 12. The club will either trade and hop Buffalo for a quarterback, or trade back and acquire more picks either in this draft or the next.

Cleveland won’t strike gold at center

Linked above is a hopelessly optimistic piece about whether or not Cleveland should attempt to bring in veteran center Nick Mangold. Mangold spent 11 seasons in New York as a Jet before becoming a cap casualty this offseason. Mangold is 33-years-old, but he probably has a couple productive years left in the tank.

The piece above is a perfect example of how Cleveland fans get into a delusional mindset about their team. Joel W. Cade talks about whether Cleveland should attempt to even sign Mangold, as if he would be so lucky to play in Cleveland.

“The main question for the Browns will be cost,” Cade writes. “Do they want to sink the type of money it will take to bring a big-name veteran like Nick Mangold to Cleveland? If the Browns can get a fair market deal for Mangold, it may be worth the investment – provided he is healthy.”

Imagine a 1-15 team bringing in a talented veteran and saying “we want you, and even though we have over 100 million in cap we don’t want to pay too much for you.”

Cleveland fans get into this mindset that just because they have all this money to spend that players are just lining up to take it. That simply isn’t true. The Browns will lure in a few guys, sure, but you are going to have to overpay just about any free agent to come to a 1-15 team. That is the cost of being a bad team.

However... maybe Mangold will come to the Bengals?