AFC Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers



  • Per the Athletic’s Mike Sando, while NFL evaluators don’t think Browns QB Baker Mayfield has been set up for success with four head coaches in three seasons, one said Mayfield shoulders some of the blame for regressing: “Look at last year how many opportunities he had to make a play on third down and did not do it. You can’t blame it all on coaching. And he’s not a leader. He doesn’t say the right things. To me, a lot of that position is, can you lead? And he hasn’t proven so far that he can lead.”
  • Others think new HC Kevin Stefanski will be good for Mayfield, with an executive who studied Mayfield closely in 2018 saying the young passer needs structure: “He needed to be in a small town, similar to Norman, and keep a thumb on him. If they do that up there, he can be a two. If they don’t, he is going to be a three that is going to frustrate you and then his mouth gets him in trouble sometimes.”


  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec writes that while the Ravens aren’t in as dire straits as some with the projected drop in the 2021 cap, they do face some hard decisions with potentially only around $30 million in cap space. 
  • With LT Ronnie Stanley entering the final year of his deal, Zrebiec thinks the Ravens are more likely to franchise tag him than work out an extension, which could mean EDGE Matt Judon hits the open market. 
  • The drop in the cap could also throw a wrench in extension talks with players like CB Marlon Humphrey, TE Mark Andrews and OT Orlando Brown, all who will be entering the last year of their deal in 2021. Zrebiec points out Baltimore likes to lock up key players early. 
  • He also adds it could delay the timeline for an extension for QB Lamar Jackson, who would become eligible for a new deal next offseason even with two more years left on his contract. 
  • Zrebiec notes high-paid Ravens veterans like S Earl Thomas, RB Mark Ingram, DT Brandon Williams and CB Tavon Young could be candidates to be released to save cap room, though not without incurring significant dead money hits. 
  • If the Ravens need to add a free agent tight end, Zrebiec highlights veteran Delanie Walker as a strong fit based on his past experience with OC Greg Roman.
  • ESPN’s Jamison Hensley points out free-agent TE Charles Clay also has experience playing for Roman. 
  • Ravens UDFA TE Jacob Breeland, who was highlighted as a player who could make the roster by HC John Harbaugh, is not expected to play this year as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered his final year in college. (Zrebiec)


  • According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, Steelers RB James Conner does not plan to opt out of the 2020 season. 
  • Conner overcame cancer while he was still in college but has been free of the disease for the past four years. 
  • Per the Athletic’s Mike Sando, some NFL evaluators thought Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was “partially done” while others anticipated the veteran having a lot of success to start the season given the practice restrictions. 
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