The AFC North has had a fairly busy week. The rumor mill is stirring up in Baltimore regarding one of their top defensive linemen. Cleveland visited with a potential draft target at the quarterback position. Pittsburgh added some real versatility to their defensive line by signing a disappointing former first-round pick from another team.
The Ravens have already had a busy offseason by upgrading their defense and making Tony Jefferson one of the top paid safeties, and also re-signing Brandon Williams to a lucrative deal. Now the Ravens may be looking to unload a talented player with a big contract.
Timmy Jernigan is in the final year of his contract, and he has performed fairly well over the last couple of seasons. He has nine sacks over the past two seasons while only missing one game in that span. Jernigan is a very consistent player for the Ravens, but he could be in store for a contract the Ravens simply won’t be able to afford.
The Ravens may be looking to get something in return for Jernigan now rather than wait for a compensatory pick. Still, if everything falls through and the Ravens don’t find a deal worth they feel he is worthwhile, they should be content to hold onto him for another season.
Kamar Aiken recently signed a one-year deal with the Colts, and he really opened up about his time with Ravens afterward.
"I don't feel like I had the opportunities," Aiken told reporters according to ESPN after signing a one-year deal with the Colts. "I had opportunities when injuries came up and things like that, but it wasn't a true opportunity to say let's help me build off what I did or to get me involved a lot in the offense. It was more, 'We're going to put him in a special-teams role and we'll see where he fits in in the offense.' That's how I felt when I was there."
Aiken started 14 games for the Ravens in 2015 after the team lost Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith Sr. for the season. He managed a nice season reeling in 75 catches for 944 yards and five touchdowns. However, last season the team brought in free agent receiver, Mike Wallace to join Smith and Perriman. That left Aiken as the odd man out.
At 27-years-old and after a great season in 2015 where he stepped up for the Ravens, it is totally understandable why Aiken would be frustrated by being buried on the depth chart. Here’s to hoping Aiken shows the Ravens they made a mistake by succeeding with the Colts.
Josh Gordon expects to hear about his reinstatement soon, but the Browns aren’t waiting around for Gordon. They have stated Gordon will be released or traded if he is reinstated into the NFL.
Gordon was once on his way to being one of the best receivers in the league. In fact during the 2013 season he led the league in receiving yards (remember that one for trivia in a few years) only playing in 14 games after being suspended for the first two games. Many people saw this as the start of something, but it quickly turned into the height of what he would accomplish as a Brown.
The next offseason he was suspended for breaking the substance abuse policy with a diluted sample, and his suspension was reduced from a whole season to 10 games, but the team sat him out during the last game for disciplinary reasons. Gordon missed all of the 2016 season after checking into a rehab facility and foregoing attempting to get reinstated.
The talent was always there, but his commitment to the game and trouble staying off drugs have cost him opportunities and money. Gordon will only be 26 by the time the season starts, so there will surely be a team willing to buy low on such a talented receiver.
Every week we talk about a new quarterback for Cleveland, but I like the scenario this one represents. Patrick Mahomes was recently worked out by the Cleveland Browns, and he could end up being a second day or late first round pick.
Mahomes played for Texas Tech and had a prolific passing career there. In 2016 he threw for more than 5,000 yards while completing more than 65% of his passes. He threw 41 touchdowns and improved his interceptions from 15 in 2015 to 10 in 2016. He also has the ability to extend plays with his legs.
The major knock on him is he tries to do too much, and sometimes he struggles with anticipation. Those are very fixable things, with NFL coaching, and with a guy like Hue Jackson in charge, he could easily become the player he is expected to be.
Right now, the draft-eligible quarterbacks are in weird positions. There is no clear cut top quarterback, and a lot of it is preference. There is a chance Cleveland could select Mahomes with their first pick in the second round, move back into the late first round, or they could even use the 12th pick on him. This kid could easily fit into what Jackson has planned for the Browns.
Finally someone in the Steelers organization acknowledged they need to start planning for the inevitable life after Ben Roethlisberger.
“I think we’ve been in that mindset for the last several years, that’s what this business tells us to be in,” Mike Tomlin told NFL Network. “We better start sharpening our sword in terms of evaluation of quarterbacks and what’s available to us or potentially available to us, that’s just due diligence. So yes, we have.”
This is something the Steelers need to start doing, and it doesn’t appear that they’ve been doing it for years, like Tomlin claims. At 35-years-old and with all the hits Roethlisberger has taken, he shouldn’t be relied upon to play for the long-term future.
The Steelers scheduled a visit with quarterback Davis Webb prior to the draft. It shouldn’t come as a shock when the Steelers inevitably spend one of their first few picks trying to find their quarterback of the future.
Tyson Alualu is a former 10th overall draft pick by the Jaguars. While he never lived up to the expectations that came with being that high of a pick, he was a very solid producer for Jacksonville. He also provides the versatility to play any of the positions along the Steelers defensive line.
Versatility is what makes this signing so important to the Steelers. The more you can do, the more valuable you can offer for a team, and for a team like Pittsburgh that loves rotating their defenders in the trenches, Alualu is invaluable. He allows them to give Stephon Tuitt a breather, and when Tuitt comes back in, Alualu can slide over and give Cameron Heyward a break while staying in the flow of the game. It isn’t a groundbreaking deal, but for what the Steelers have to work with, it is a fairly nice signing at this point in the offseason.