AFC Notes: Raiders, Ravens, Steelers

     

Raiders

Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olsen explained that C Rodney Hudson is a” very valuable” part of their offense and is someone they feel fortunate to have. 

“I don’t know about the underrated part. I know that when I have a chance to visit with our opponents coaching staffs before or after a game, he’s always one of the first players that’s mentioned,” Olson said on the Raiders’ “Upon Further Review” podcast, via Pro Football Talk. “And you look at the respect that he gets from the players throughout the league as well and the number of Pro Bowls that he’s been voted to. So it’s a shame that some people underrate him or don’t value him the way the league does, the way the players do, and the way the coaches do in this league because he’s obviously a force for us up front. He’s like a quarterback of the offensive line, he gets everything set, makes all the calls. So he’s a very valuable piece of our offense and we’re really just fortunate to have him.

Ravens

Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic takes a look at the Ravens’ impending free-agents and makes his predictions regarding who he expects to be re-signed or depart this offseason. 

  • Some of the notable players he could see returning include OLB Tyus Bowser, RB Gus Edwards, OLB Pernell McPhee, and DT Derek Wolfe among others. 
  • As for some players who could be playing elsewhere, Zrebiec lists: WR Dez Bryant, DT Justin Ellis, OL D.J. Fluker, OLB Matthew Judon, OLB Yannick Ngakoue, C Matt Skura, and WR Willie Snead among others. 
  • Regarding Judon, Zrebiec believes the Ravens are likely reluctant to pay the outside linebacker as a premier edge rusher and won’t have the cap space to handle his $20 million franchise tag price. 
  • As for Ngakoue, whom the Ravens acquired from the Vikings in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and conditional 2022 fifth-round pick, Zrebiec writes that his limited role in the playoffs is an indication that he’s bound to depart. 

Steelers

Steelers’ owner Art Rooney reiterated his confidence in Ben Roethlisberger but feels they require “a lot of pieces” to add around him. 

“We think Ben played at a high level last year,” said Rooney, via Bob Labriola of the team’s official site. “We won our division and set a franchise record for most consecutive wins to open a season, so there was a lot of good stuff. Ben was as disappointed as anybody the way it ended. That last game is just hard to swallow, and I think in part Ben wants to come back and leave on a high note. We’re still confident he has the ability to do that. His arm, I would say, is as strong or almost as strong as ever, so I think he’s certainly capable of getting the job done. Part of the concern is putting a (competitive) team around him, and we had a good discussion about that. We know there are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle that still have to fall into place this season, and we’re hard at work trying to make that happen.”

Rooney mentioned that their deadline for a new deal would be the start of the new league year on March 17. 

“Hopefully we’ll work something out before that, but certainly if you want to say there’s a hard deadline, March 17 would be it,” said Rooney. 

As for scouting prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft, Rooney said that this year is proving more challenging without an NFL Combine and only having a limited number of Pro Days to attend. 

It’s not like last year in the sense that we had the Combine last year,” said Rooney about 2020. “That really is a key piece of the puzzle in terms of putting the evaluations together, and then we had some Pro Days. I’m a little more concerned about this year than I was about last year. Last year everybody was talking about the draft itself and doing that virtually, which was a challenge, but really the important part of the draft is the preparation. This year is going to be a much bigger challenge in getting the information you’d like to have, being without a Combine, being with a limited number of Pro Days and not even sure all of the schools are going to have Pro Days, plus dealing with players who opted out of the 2020 (college) season. There are many more challenges in preparing for this daft than there were last year.”

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