AFC Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Browns

  • The Athletic’s Zac Jackson writes that, in addition to QB Baker Mayfield, Browns RB Nick Chubb and G Wyatt Teller are eligible for extensions for the first time this offseason and he would expect Cleveland to explore getting deals done for them. 
  • Jackson says that unlike last offseason, Browns WR Rashard Higgins would draw legitimate interest if he were to hit the open market, but he expects Cleveland to re-sign him before that. 
  • Jackson notes $12.8 million of Browns WR Odell Beckham‘s $15.8 million salary becomes guaranteed on the third day of the league year, so it’s hard to see Cleveland having much of a trade market for him. 
  • As things stand now, Jackson envisions the Browns keeping TE David Njoku as he plays out his fifth-year option in 2021. 
  • Jackson also expects the Browns to try and bring back versatile backup OL Kendall Lamm in 2021. 

Ravens

Ravens’ GM Eric DeCosta usually keeps his decisions to himself, but it seems there is no doubt that the organization is focused on signing QB Lamar Jackson to a long term deal.

“We’ve got a great relationship. He’s got a great relationship with this organization,” DeCosta said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “He’s a very easy person to talk to and certainly deserves a contract. He has played phenomenal football over the last couple of years and our intention and my intention is to keep him in Baltimore for many, many years.”

With the hope of keeping Jackson in Baltimore for years to come, DeCosta’s other focus seems to be on the offensive line.

“One of the things that we have to do is get better upfront with pass protection,” DeCosta said. “I think losing Ronnie Stanley was definitely a tough deal for the offensive line to handle. I think Orlando did a great job and I think the offensive line in general really battled versus some adversity this year. But pass protection is going to be a factor.”

Despite several big-name free agents being available at receiver such as Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeCosta downplayed the team’s need for a true number one receiver in free agency.

“There’s a lot of things that we can do,” DeCosta said. “It’s not all about getting the quote No. 1 receiver that everybody likes to talk about. We would certainly look at that. We would try to upgrade every single position on this football team this offseason if we can, based on the parameters of what we have to work with draft pick wise, money-wise, and all of the other challenges associated with building a football team.”

DeCosta says that the team is not in a bad position when it comes to the salary cap but knows they will not be able to retain everyone they want to, as keeping their current players seems to be the emphasis.

“I learned this from (former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome). You can’t sign everybody,” DeCosta said. “That’s a challenge, but we will try and keep as many young players as we can. We believe in being a strong offensive line. We want to have the best offensive line we can and Orlando had a great year this year. We are a tight end-centric offense and Mark Andrews, in my opinion, is one of the better tight ends in the entire NFL. He’s a Pro Bowl tight end, in my opinion, so we’d be foolish to not want to try and keep him. Those discussions will start up at some point and hopefully, we can make progress and get some deals done.”

Zrebiec notes that pass-rushers like Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are set to hit the free-agent market, and may not see large deals from Baltimore due to their prioritizing of defensive backs over edge rushers.

Steelers

  • Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wonders if the Steelers will try and land Pep Hamilton or Hue Jackson as a QB coach after hiring Matt Canada as their offensive coordinator.
  • Breer adds that the job could be more attractive than it seems as the coach would get to work with players like Ben Roethlisberger and Dwayne Haskins.
  • The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette, Mark Kaboly and Sean Gentille write it appears the clear impetus for promoting Canada was to keep the same system for Roethlisberger next year. 
  • While Roethlisberger won’t have to learn any new terminology, the trio think Canada’s approach will change to include more motion and play-action, in part to try and get the ground game going, than Pittsburgh used this past season. 
  • Haskins’ contract with the Steelers is for the minimum $850,000 salary and includes zero guarantees. (Field Yates)
  • The Steelers announced they have hired former Chargers TE coach Alfredo Roberts to the same position on their team. (Twitter)
  • Roberts has been primarily a tight end coach since 2003, also working with the Jaguars, Browns, Buccaneers and Colts. 
  • The Steelers are interested in former Giants and Broncos QB coach Mike Sullivan for their open QB coach vacancy. (Gerry Dulac)
  • Steelers OLB T.J. Watt refuted a claim from a Pittsburgh radio host that he skipped his exit interview because he was upset about something: “Would love to hear who Mark’s sources are. They certainly can’t be myself, Coach T, Kevin Colbert or Coach Butler. All of whom I met with during exit interviews, prior to packing my own things after a hard fought season trying to give everything I have for the city of Pittsburgh.” (Twitter)
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