The trio that led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their first division title since 2010 also battled for AFC North Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown beat out running back Le'Veon Bell and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the award, garnering 12 points in voting by the five writers who cover AFC North teams.

Brown, who had the second-most catches in an NFL season (129), beat out Bell and Roethlisberger for the honor. Brown led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards (1,698) and was a first-team All-Pro selection.

Bell led the AFC in rushing (1,361 yards) and also led all NFL running backs with 854 receiving yards. The first-team All-Pro selection finished with 10 points after his second NFL season. Roethlisberger, who shared the NFL passing title (4,952 yards) with New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, had six points.

Players received three points for a first-place vote, two for a second-place vote and one for a third-place vote.

Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett and Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill each received a third-place vote.

Forsett did more than soften the Ravens’ blow from the loss of Ray Rice. Forsett, a journeyman, rushed for 1,266 yards, fifth-most in the NFL, and led all running backs with 5.4 yards per carry.

Hill paced all rookie running backs with 1,124 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

The second-round draft pick finished eighth among all NFL players in rushing yards and second among running backs with 5.1 yards per carry.

Dick LeBeau won't coach in Arizona

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau won’t be resurfacing in the desert despite meeting with the Arizona Cardinals last week.

Coach Bruce Arians told Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss on Monday that he could not persuade LeBeau to join his staff.

“I think just the distance with his family,” Arians said. “He expects a lot of interest. Of course, I had a lot of interest but I think the distance and he just decided what he wants to do.”

LeBeau is available after the Steelers did not renew his contract and later promoted longtime linebackers coach Keith Butler to defensive coordinator.

LeBeau lives in Cincinnati and he prefers to coach east of the Mississippi River so he doesn’t have to stray too far from home.

LeBeau, 77, made it clear that he wants to continue coaching when Mike Tomlin asked him his plans a week after the Steelers’ AFC wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

One possible landing spot for LeBeau is in Tennessee.

He and Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt coached together in Pittsburgh and are good friends. Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton coached the secondary in Pittsburgh before becoming a coordinator, first in Arizona and now in Tennessee, and is a LeBeau protégé.
CLEVELAND -- The avalanche has fallen. The last two months have been treacherous. Outward support from Browns officials has waned. And, as's in-depth look at a rocky rookie season showed, internal support is doing the same.

Yet there's still hope for Johnny Manziel.

The 22-year-old quarterback has been hit from every angle the last seven weeks, much to his own doing, but some from outsiders that waited for Instagram's favorite quarterback to fail, built from jealousy or a belief he was never an NFL quarterback.

It's important to remind in times like these that many of Manziel's traits that garnered first-round interest eight months ago are still intact. Manziel has adequate arm strength and ability to make instinctive plays, though the rushing ability looks less explosive at the highest level of football. He was learning a pro-style, language-heavy offense for the first time in his life, making at least marginal struggles inevitable in Year 1. At least a faction of the locker room believed the team's move to Manziel, despite a 7-6 record, was a surrender of sorts.

Manziel has the next seven months to spin the looming bust label into a positive gain.

Seven quarters of football was never enough to fully evaluate Manziel, even if the optimism is slim. Unless the Browns were completely fed up, it makes little sense to take this year's $1.874 million cap hit without seeing how he looks in training camp. The quarterback options on the open market (little chance for Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, a free agency-pool stocked with backups) aren't convincing enough to deprive Manziel the chance to make the necessary leap this offseason.

Let's see how he responds. Manziel has received tons of good advice about being a pro and changing his ways. Will he take it? Browns fans praised the drafting of Manziel in May, then quickly tore him down after his 80-yard, two-turnover performance in Week 15 against Cincinnati. Curious what Manziel has to say about that -- not with words, though. He's said enough, and he knows it. He knew it the day after the season, when he missed team activities and an explanation just wouldn't do. Words had become hollow.

If Manziel is going to get it, now's the time. This is it. The team owner and the new offensive coordinator have both made clear the Browns' starting quarterback might not be in their own building. The team's clear-cut theme -- we've got to find a quarterback -- suggests the Browns have searching to do. That means draft workouts and free agency phone calls, not nods to the incumbent.

Independent quarterbacks coach George Whitfield told me last month he and Manziel planned to work together at some point before Valentine's Day. Perhaps that will spark the fire Manziel needs.

Without one, Manziel's buzz remains as cold as the Aspen trip he took with Josh Gordon in January.

If Manziel wins the starting job in August, this might be an all-time Browns comeback story, not for ability, but for the trust rebuilt.
The Baltimore Ravens have had a first-time Pro Bowl player in each of the nine past seasons. It started with linebacker Bart Scott in 2006 and continued with rookie C.J. Mosley this season.

So, who will make their first Pro Bowl from the Ravens next season? Let's take a look at the top five candidates:


1. CB Jimmy Smith: He had a great chance to reach the Pro Bowl this season until he suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 8. Smith's size and speed put him among the top cornerbacks in the league. But he needs to become more of a playmaker to gain more attention. He only has three interceptions in 24 starts since 2013.

2. P Sam Koch: You can make a strong argument that Koch should've made the Pro Bowl this season. He was the only punter to rank in the top three in both gross and net punting average. His net punting average (43.3) led the NFL in 2014 and ranked fourth best in league history. It seems like Koch is just on the cusp after winning the fan voting and being a first-team alternate this past season.

3. OG Kelechi Osemele: He proved he was completely recovered from a back injury that sidelined him in 2013 and established himself as the one of the dominating run blockers in the league. Osemele is a sound pass protector, and he made one of the most critical blocks in the playoff win in Pittsburgh when he pushed James Harrison to the ground and freed up Joe Flacco to make a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. Osemele's play can get overshadowed by Marshal Yanda, who is one of the NFL's best linemen.

4. FB Kyle Juszczyk: He didn't hit the production many expected this season, but that could change in 2015. New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman likes throwing to running backs (Chicago's Matt Forte had more than 100 catches in Trestman's offense), which could boost Juszczyk's 19 receptions in 2014. He was a first-team alternate this season, and it probably won't take too much to crack the Pro Bowl at one of the NFL's thinnest positions.

5. QB Joe Flacco: It would've happened this season if Flacco didn't turn down a Pro Bowl invitation to be there for the birth of his third child. Flacco achieved career highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27) in 2014. If that progression continues under Trestman, Flacco has a good shot at getting another chance to play in the all-star event. Before you list the reasons why this won't happen, remember Andy Dalton has made two Pro Bowl teams in the past four seasons.
Sans Josh Gordon, this is the group of wide receivers on the Cleveland Browns roster today: Miles Austin, Phil Bates, Travis Benjamin, Kevin Cone, Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins, Marlon Moore and Rodney Smith.

Take away Austin, who is headed to free agency, and the seven pass-catchers left have a combined 21 years experience.

They average for their careers 35 catches, 496 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014 alone, 121 receivers had more than 35 catches and 92 had more than 496 yards. Take away Hawkins, Gabriel and Benjamin and the other four have a combined 20 catches for 318 yards.

The NFL rookie receiving class in 2014 set rookie records. Eight had at least 50 catches, three had 1,000 yards and four had eight or more touchdowns.

The Browns drafted none of them. Their two first-round picks were used on Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, both of whom enter their second season with serious question marks.

“The rookies this year -- phenomenal,” general manager Ray Farmer said two days after the season. “Great job by a lot of those guys. They were high-drafted or high selected oriented players on our board. I know I said I wouldn’t talk about our board but to that tune, they were high there as how we valued what they were capable of doing. But then again, can you piece it together? I think you most certainly can with guys that have traits that translate to the type of offense that you want to run.”

Despite the fact he said the rookie wide receivers were “phenomenal,” he had no regrets about not taking one.

“I know everyone says I’m stubborn,” he said, “or I’m going to be obstinate about this wide receiver position, but I just think that at the end of the day an offensive line(man) affects every single play of the game. A wide receiver may touch the ball 10 times if he’s having a great day so I just like the idea of ‘let’s get the guys that affect the game all the time and let’s try and get those guys and make a difference for our football team.’”

Farmer cautioned during the season against expecting too much when Gordon returned from suspension, and he was right. And there was a time before Gordon returned when the other receivers were a hard-working bunch doing things the right way -- and the Browns were winning.

“I’m a believer that this whole notion that you’ve got to have this one guy that’s the silver bullet is a myth,” he said. “I think it’s like trying to catch werewolves and vampires. They just don’t exist. I’m a big believer in it’s a team sport, and when we combine the requisite skill sets necessary to let guys have success we have that success. We saw that earlier this year that we were missing certain key components that people thought were high-value targets and assets for us, but we played team football. As a result of that, we were able to have success.”

The group the Browns had worked like mad. Hawkins, Gabriel and Benjamin may be small, but their hearts are large. Austin, too, played an important role. He was the bigger target outside, the guy who could be counted on to make the third-down catch. He led the team with 14 third-down catches in the 11 games he played. That was vital, because when Gordon returned he was not dependable and Austin’s absence to a lacerated kidney was noticed.

The Browns at present have two slot receivers (Hawkins and Gabriel) and one situational guy who can be very effective when used properly (Benjamin).

The team seems to have a glaring need for the starting type. There is time to try to bring back Austin, and free agency will provide players to peruse.

But the Browns have two first-round picks. Logic would say the receiver position has to be strongly in the discussion for one of the picks -- except Farmer doesn’t seem to buy into the conventional wisdom.'s AFC North reporters voted on five awards for the division (Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player), and one will be handed out each day throughout the week. Consider this our version of the NFL Honors show.

For Monday, it's the 2014 AFC North Coach of the Year ...

No AFC North team endured more challenges than the Baltimore Ravens, and no division team advanced further in the playoffs than them. That's a credit to the leadership of John Harbaugh, who narrowly beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin for AFC North Coach of the Year.

Harbaugh directed the Ravens to a 10-6 record and the divisional round of the playoffs despite the Ray Rice scandal, 19 players on injured reserve and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata's month-long suspension. Quarterback Joe Flacco was asked about why the Ravens can handle adversity so well and he pointed immediately to Harbaugh.

"It starts with John and his attitude that he brings to the team meeting room ... and it filters throughout the rest of us," Flacco said. "So, we are able to keep that levelheadedness and keep the same mentality no matter what's happened the previous week."

It was more than Harbaugh's guidance that helped the Ravens reach the playoffs for the sixth time in his seven seasons. It was also his aggressiveness.

In early December, Harbaugh established a a must-win mentality by going for it on fourth-and-1 in Miami. It was a gamble considering the Ravens were trailing in the third quarter and they were at their own 34-yard line. But Flacco converted it with a quarterback sneak, and the Ravens were celebrating the go-ahead touchdown seven plays later.

"It was there for us to take. That was the message that was sent to us," tight end Owen Daniels said. "They were putting it on [the offense]. Our defense is playing great, but we had to do something offensively to knock the door down."

Harbaugh is at his best when the Ravens are facing adversity, and he proved that time and time again in 2014.

As far as the balloting went, Harbaugh received three of the five first-place votes to win the award in what was a good showing for all of the AFC North coaches this season. Tomlin, who took the other two first-place votes, led the Steelers back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Marvin Lewis recorded his fourth-straight playoff season (the Cincinnati Bengals didn't make the playoffs in the 12 seasons before Lewis arrived). And, despite a rough finish, first-year coach Mike Pettine helped the Cleveland Browns to their best season since 2007.

AFC North Coach of the Year voting: John Harbaugh, 17 points; Mike Tomlin, 16; Marvin Lewis, 10; Mike Pettine, 7.

Panel of voters: Scott Brown, Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon.
Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley made Baltimore Ravens history by becoming their first rookie to reach the Pro Bowl. He also ended a surprising drought for the team.

Widely regarded as one of the best franchises in digging up the top talent in college football, the Ravens had gone five drafts without selecting a Pro Bowl player before taking Mosley with the No. 17 overall pick in 2014.

The last player drafted by the Ravens to get to the Pro Bowl before Mosley was running back Ray Rice, who was a second-round pick in 2008. There were 47 players drafted by the Ravens from their last Pro Bowl draftee (Rice) to their most recent one (Mosley).

The Ravens are one of three teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders are the others) not to have selected a Pro Bowl player in the five drafts from 2009 to 2013. It should be noted that cornerback Jimmy Smith (a first-round pick in 2011) was on his way to a Pro Bowl season this year, but he only played half the year before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

Few would've predicted such a dry spell for the Ravens. This is the franchise that drafted the likes of Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Ed Reed, Jamal Lewis and Terrell Suggs. In the Ravens' first 13 drafts, they selected 19 Pro Bowl players, which tied the New England Patriots for the most during that period.

Recent drafts haven't lived up to the Ravens' standard. There are only nine current starters from the 2009 to 2013 drafts. That included the disappointing drafts in 2010, when Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody were the top picks, and in 2013, when Matt Elam and Arthur Brown were the top selections.

The Ravens have been hurt by their own success. A perennial playoff team, the Ravens entered those five drafts (2009 to 2013) selecting No. 25 or lower in the first round. It wasn't until last year, when the Ravens were drafting in the top 20, that they landed an immediate-impact player.

The 2015 draft will present a similar challenge. The Ravens have the No. 26 overall pick after advancing to the the divisional round of the playoffs.
Those who watched Sunday night's Pro Bowl saw what the Baltimore Ravens had witnessed all season out of their star players.

Elvis Dumervil harassed quarterbacks, Justin Forsett broke a long run, C.J. Mosley delivered big tackles and Marshal Yanda opened up running lanes.

In the end, Team Irvin defeated Team Carter, 32-28, which meant Dumervil and Yanda collected the winning share of $55,000 apiece and some measure of bragging rights over their teammates. Forsett and Mosley each received $28,000 for the losing side, which was coached by John Harbaugh and the Ravens' staff.

Here are the highlights for the Ravens:
  • Dumervil collected the only two sacks of the game. He sacked Andrew Luck in the first quarter, and he sacked Andy Dalton near the end of the third quarter to force a punt. It was reminiscent of the 2014 season when Dumervil set the Ravens' single-season record with 17 sacks.
  • Mosley finished second on Team Carter with six tackles, including five solo. His biggest tackle came in the third quarter when he stopped Mark Ingram short of the goal line on a long run. “I definitely want to come back," said Mosley, who became the first Ravens' rookie to reach the Pro Bowl. "There is only one stage bigger than this, and hopefully I am not here because of that stage, but if not I definitely want to come back here.”
  • Forsett produced 84 total yards (31 rushing and 53 receiving) on eight touches. On a drive that ended the first half, he broke a 31-yard run and a 25-yard reception. “It’s a dream come true," said Forsett, who was making his first Pro Bowl appearance of his seven-year career. "It’s something I’ve wanted to accomplish throughout my whole career, and I’m blessed to be out here with these guys.”
  • Harbaugh made an impact on the game as well. His successful challenge in the third quarter turned an incompletion in the end zone into a 10-yard touchdown from Drew Brees to Greg Olsen. During the regular season, only one of Harbaugh's eight challenges were successful (12.5 percent).

The Ravens would've had a fifth Pro Bowl player, but quarterback Joe Flacco declined an invitation because his wife was due to deliver their third child (she gave birth to their third son on Tuesday). Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went in his place and flopped down the stretch for Harbaugh and Team Carter.

Dalton was 9-for-20 for 69 yards and failed to deliver on the potential winning drive. His final four passes -- which all came in the red zone -- were all incomplete. Would Flacco have done better? All we know is he couldn't have done worse.
videoAndy Dalton still hasn't won a game in January.

With 3:10 remaining in Sunday night's Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback had a chance to lead a dramatic comeback drive that would have given his team the win and an additional $27,000 in his and his teammates' pockets.

None of that would happen, though.

After generating momentum and getting his offense into the red zone, Dalton effectively ended Team Carter's (coached by Hall of Fame receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter) hopes at winning 13 plays later when he delivered a poorly-thrown pass that fell several yards away from the two pass-catchers that were in its vicinity. Rushed by four defensive linemen, including his Bengals teammate Geno Atkins, Dalton delivered the throw off his back foot while trying to avoid the rush.

The incomplete pass, thrown with 53 seconds left in the game, sealed the 32-28 win for Team Irvin (coached by Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin).

Only once on the drive did Dalton target his Bengals teammate, A.J. Green. It was one of three passing attempts Green drew from Team Carter's quarterbacks. He didn't catch a single one of them. Defended by Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes on all three plays, Green had a tough time generating enough space to make a catch. The lone target he had from Dalton landed well short of his feet as Dalton felt Grimes stepping up for an interception, and decided to throw short so the corner couldn't complete the pick-off.

Dalton completed four of his first five throws on the final drive -- all screens or other short routes to running backs Alfred Morris or Justin Forsett. After Forsett's 13-yard reception put Team Carter at Team Irvin's 19, Dalton missed on four-straight passing attempts, including the one to Green. Officially, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was credited with being targeted on Dalton's last incompletion, but the fourth-down throw was headed toward both he and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.

Dalton, voted the seventh alternate by fans in December, was added to the Pro Bowl roster last week after the Super Bowl quarterbacks were forced into missing the game, and also after Baltimore's Joe Flacco bowed out because of the birth of his child. The Bengals' signal-caller who signed a six-year contract extension in August went 9-for-20 for 69 yards Sunday. He was sacked once, had a 54.0 passer rating and averaged 3.5 yards per completion.

Like Green, Atkins didn't have any statistical contributions. The Bengals' other Pro Bowl selection, punter Kevin Huber, had one 56-yard punt that traveled to the opposing 6 before the return team tried to bring it back with a lateral. The return only went for eight yards.

Dalton still hasn't won a game in January. He entered the Pro Bowl 0-5 in regular-season and playoff games in the month. His latest January loss was his 26-10 loss at Indianapolis on Jan. 4.
A few quick thoughts on the news -- brought to you by ESPN's Adam Schefter -- that talented yet troubled receiver Josh Gordon could be suspended for the 2015 season after failing another league-administered drug test, this time for alcohol. Before this week, Gordon had twice violated the league's substance-abuse policies.

Gordon made Browns' decision to cut ties easier: The likelihood of Gordon staying on the roster seemed bleak even before this news. The only way the Browns would have kept Gordon was if they couldn't create a trade market for him. Now that market is gone, but the point is moot and the decision easy: move on, better off without him.

[+] EnlargeJosh Gordon
DavidDermer/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesJosh Gordon has failed another drug test and now will be subject to a one-year suspension, according to league sources.
That last part is weird to say about a team with a wildly talented receiver at a thin position, but the Browns' offense looked disjointed when Gordon returned from a 10-game suspension. Five of quarterback Brian Hoyer's 13 interceptions came during his first seven quarters playing with Gordon. The Browns started 6-3 with a group of overachieving receivers led by Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins. Gordon was dominant the year before with about 117 receiving yards per game, but there's no promise he'll ever return to that form.

Gordon has been arrested and charged with driving while impaired, has been suspended twice by the NFL, and has missed team meetings, which prompted the Browns to suspend him late last season. There's no way to bring that hit list back to the locker room.

The Browns don't need to act now, and unless Gordon wins a grievance, he'll still be under his rookie deal in 2016. But they must go forward knowing he's not in the plans.

Browns should outline clear plan for the outside receiver position: The Browns' current receiving corps includes two slot receivers at 5-foot-8 or shorter (Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel) and an undersized situational receiver (Travis Benjamin, 5-10).

Yep, time for Ray Farmer to get to work.

The general manager passed on receivers from a historically good 2014 receiver class and he'd do the franchise a disservice if he doesn't address the need in free agency or the draft. The list of free agents includes top-shelf playmakers who will likely stay home (Denver's Demaryius Thomas, Dallas' Dez Bryant) and plenty of other impact guys (Philly's Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore's Torrey Smith, San Francisco's Michael Crabtree). Get something done, either in the open market, in the first three rounds of the draft or both.

Was Gordon worth it? The Browns gave up a second-round draft pick for Gordon, who gave Cleveland 35 games, 161 catches, 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Was he worth it? Probably. He was worth the risk. He was the league's best receiver in 2013. It didn't work out. But the team got production from him.

Hope Gordon gets better: It's tough to see talented guys struggle off the field. It's not fun to watch it unfold. I hope he gets the right people around him, because from what I've heard, that's a big part of the problem.

Johnny Manziel's rookie season in photos

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
Johnny Manziel might have been disappointed to fall to the No. 22 pick on draft night, but that paled in comparison to the problems he would later encounter during his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns.

From being fined for an obscene gesture during a preseason game to posting a 1.0 QBR in his debut to being fined for missing a treatment on his injured hamstring, Manziel stayed in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

Here is a look back in pictures at a much-publicized, if not successful, rookie season.

Johnny ManzielElsa/Getty ImagesFalling to Cleveland with the 22nd pick didn't humble Manziel, as the former Heisman winner flashed his money sign on stage. Within 25 minutes of Manziel's selection, the Browns had sold 200 season tickets and had 300 renewed.
Johnny ManzielESPNCoach Mike Pettine wasn't amused when he learned Manziel had flipped off taunters on the Redskins' sideline during a preseason game. Manziel was fined $12,000 by the league for his momentary loss of composure.
Johnny ManzielKevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SportsManziel led an 80-yard touchdown drive, capped by his 10-yard run, on his first possession after subbing for a struggling Brian Hoyer against the Bills. It was the highlight of his rookie season.
Johnny ManzielAP Photo/David RichardManziel looked ill prepared in his first start, in Week 15 against the Bengals. He was 10-of-18 passing for 80 yards and two interceptions as Cleveland lost 30-0, its first shutout defeat in five years. Manziel's QBR was 1.0.
Johnny ManzielAP Photo/David RichardMoney signs were being flashed in Week 15, but not by Manziel. The Bengals had fun with his trademark gesture after smothering the rookie in his first start.
Johnny Manziel Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesA hamstring injury cut Manziel's season short, and being fined for not showing up for treatment on the injury the following week was one of the low points of his season.
Johnny ManzielAP Photo/Don WrightThe Browns' quarterback situation is as uncertain as ever after Manziel's performance on the field and questions about his commitment off the field. Brian Hoyer is an impending free agent whose return is in doubt.

The message from the Cleveland Browns about the team’s quarterback situation in 2015 remains consistent: Johnny Manziel is not a given.

The Browns are answering questions bluntly about Manziel by saying there is no certainty they will turn to him as their guy.

Then again, they also said before last season that they didn’t want him to play at all as a rookie. Can’t ignore that fact.

What are the Browns saying?

Coach Mike Pettine the day after the season: "It's just still very early to tell just what [Manziel's] future holds for us."

General manager Ray Farmer two days after the season: "There could be any number of stones that we overturn to try to find the right [player] to bring in here to help improve our roster."

New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Thursday: "We're not sure if our starting quarterback is in the building right now or not."

Pettine on Thursday: The quarterback possibilities "are all items that will be on the table for discussion."

Even owner Jimmy Haslam weighed in the same way, speaking to a group of reporters at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards Thursday night.

"We don't know who our quarterback's going to be next season," Haslam said.

The clear message is that the Browns, publicly at least, are not willing to commit to Manziel based on the six quarters they saw from him as the starter. They don't seem inclined to cut ties with him, but they don't seem inclined to anoint him, either.

Couple that with the reality that the team reached out to Brian Hoyer about returning -- no numbers discussed yet -- and the message delivered is that the Browns are pondering options.

And while they ponder, they are evaluating Manziel and his future.

To hear the Browns, they don't know how it will play out.

It's not exactly a comforting feeling to see a team be so open about the uncertain status of its most important position, but it is January. A lot can happen before minicamp, let alone training camp.

But there seem to be some very clear and direct signals going from the team to its second-year quarterback.
The announcement that the Baltimore Ravens will release nose tackle Terrence Cody brings up the 2010 draft, which will not be remembered fondly by a franchise known for making the right moves. Cody was among the misses by the Ravens in a draft that didn't produce many impact players.

The Ravens traded down in the first round that year when they should have found a way to trade up. Pro Bowl wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (No. 22) and Dez Bryant (No. 24) were selected just before the Ravens were on the clock at No. 25.

This was also the draft when the Ravens didn't have tight end Rob Gronkowski on their draft board because of medical concerns. Gronkowski has turned into a three-time Pro Bowl player who has scored 54 touchdowns in five seasons.

The Ravens ultimately traded out of the first round, getting picks in the second, third and fourth rounds from the Denver Broncos, who chose quarterback Tim Tebow at No. 25 overall. That allowed the Ravens to regain some picks after they sent their original third- and fourth-round picks to Arizona for wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

There is only one player who remains from that 2010 draft, and it's unknown whether tight end Dennis Pitta will play after hip surgeries two straight years.

Here is a look at the Ravens' selections in the 2010 draft:

Second round: LB Sergio Kindle. The Ravens gambled on a prospect with several red flags and lost. Kindle fractured his skull when falling down a couple flights of stairs before his first training camp, and played a total of three games in his disappointing career. All he has to show for his NFL career was one tackle and one drunken-driving arrest.

Second round: Cody. He was supposed to be the long-term replacement for Kelly Gregg, and he only managed one season as a full-time starter. Cody struggled with his weight early in his Ravens career and injuries toward the end of it. He played one game in 2014 before being released.

Third round: TE Ed Dickson. He looked like a rising prospect in 2011 when he broke out with 54 catches and five touchdowns. But a lack of confidence and unreliable hands led to 46 catches in his final two seasons with the Ravens. Dickson signed with Carolina last offseason as a free agent.

Fourth round: TE Dennis Pitta. He became one of Joe Flacco's most trusted targets in the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl season, when he set career-highs in catches (61), receiving yards (669) and touchdowns (seven). Since then, he's been limited to seven games in two seasons because of hip injuries. The Ravens expect an update on Pitta's status for 2015 in a few weeks.

Fifth round: WR David Reed. It looked like Reed was going to be an electric returner after leading the NFL in kickoff returns (29.3) as a rookie. But fumbles and injures derailed his career with the Ravens. He was traded during the summer of 2013 to the Indianapolis Colts, and he spent the 2014 training camp with the San Francisco 49ers before being released prior to the start of the regular season.

Fifth round: DT Arthur Jones. This is one of the Ravens' late-round success stories. Injuries in college caused Jones to fall in the draft, and the Ravens landed a two-year starter. He was arguably the Ravens' best defensive lineman in 2013, which priced him out of the Ravens' range. Jones signed a five-year, $32 million contract ($16 million guaranteed) with the Colts last offseason.

Sixth round: OT Ramon Harewood. He spent his first two seasons on injured reserve before starting five games at guard in 2012. A year later, Harewood was cut by the Ravens after struggling with knee problems in training camp. He's had several tryouts but he hasn't been on an NFL roster since getting cut by the Denver Broncos in June 2014.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel criticized the New England Patriots' approach on Friday and did not just reserve his scorn for the AFC champions.

Keisel also took aim at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of the controversy that has raised new questions about the lengths to which the Patriots will go to win.

"It's a damn shame what's going on right now in the league," Keisel said on WDVE Radio in Pittsburgh. "To me the one place you look is Goodell."

Goodell and the league have to sort through reports that most of the footballs supplied by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last Sunday were not inflated to NFL standards. The Patriots thumped the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in Foxborough, Massachusetts, but the shine from that victory quickly faded when New England came under scrutiny for what has been dubbed "Deflate-gate."

Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady each denied they had anything to do with what happened last Sunday at Gillette Stadium, and that the air pressure level in footballs would not have mushroomed into a national story if it was an isolated incident.

But in 2007, the Patriots were fined heavily and stripped of a first-round draft pick after Goodell ruled the team had illegally videotaped opponents.

"They are looking to win at all costs," Keisel said of the Patriots. "That's why they've been to the Super Bowl six times. There are rules and you're supposed to follow the rules, but sometimes the rules don't get followed and it's a shame."

Steelers president Art Rooney II said earlier this week that taking air out of footballs would not rise to the level of a major rules breach.

When asked if the NFL has to take a hard line if the Patriots tried to gain an advantage because of past transgressions, he said, "I think the league will have to impose some discipline if they determine what's being reported as fact. I have no idea what is reality and what is not at this point. But if it happened, it's a violation of the rules, and I'm sure the league will impose some kind of discipline."