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Weekend mailbag: Steeler Nation

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Dewey writes: Big time Steelers fan. Would like to know why they are never active in free agency? Hard to believe that a Marvin Harrison or Roy Williams will hurt the team. I know they have a great organization and a great team but some help would not hurt.

James Walker: Dewey, your email is similar to the dozens I get every week from Steeler Nation looking for a buzz in free agency. My only advice is to enjoy the recent Super Bowl win and let that carry you through for a while. The Steelers do things the right way. Free agency should be used to patch a few holes, not to build a team around. Otherwise, Pittsburgh's main focus is on the NFL draft. I suggest Steeler Nation to follow suit.


Dan Finnegan from Bremerton, WA writes: James, When are you guys going to update the Power Rankings? Looking forward to see my Steelers at the top of the PRs.

James Walker: The NFL Power Rankings are one of the most popular things we do here at ESPN.com. We are planning to do our next power rankings after free agency and the NFL draft, when the new rosters are mostly settled for the 2009 season. So look for it around early May.


John from Johnstown, PA writes: Hey James, pleasure reading your insight, as always, so I wanted your opinion on this. Do you believe it was a wise move of the Steelers to let McFadden walk? He only got 10mil for two years. I think 'Zona got a bargain. Thoughts, comments?

James Walker: I am trusting the Steelers coaching staff on this one. I think Arizona got a solid player in McFadden, and Pittsburgh will be able fill the void with the combination of William Gay and Deshea Townsend for a cheaper price. It should turn out to be a win-win for both organizations.


Tony from Alexandria writes: Do you think the steelers are on the verge of another dynasty?

James Walker: On the verge? Sure. Pittsburgh set itself up to cement a dynasty if it can win another championship this season, which would be the third in five seasons. But this current group of Steelers will not be considered a dynasty unless they prove they can win back-to-back titles.


Nick B. from Knoxville writes: Does the Coles signing effect the trade availability of Chad Ocho Cinco? I'd like to see Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson get some playing time and it doesn't look like that's going to happen now that they are buried on the depth chart.

James Walker: The signing of Coles gives the Bengals flexibility, Nick. It would surprise me if Cincinnati doesn't at least explore trade options for Chad Ocho Cinco to at least see what his value is this year. If it's not high enough, then keep him and move on. But Coles could serve as the top target if 2009 is deemed a rebuilding year for the Bengals.


Sam from Cleveland writes: Hey James.. So the Patriots signed former Browns CB, Leigh Bodden. What are the chances that he doesn't have some kind of absurd break out season now? I swear this is some kind of unwritten rule somewhere guaranteeing this to happen.

James Walker: Bodden has always been quietly respected in Cleveland. He obviously caught the eye of Bill Belichick in New England as well, who knows football better than anyone. The Patriots have a great system, so look for Bodden to have a good year. It could also end with a ring as well.


Reader from Baltimore writes: The Ravens need a receiver. Chances are the 2 they are looking at in the draft are Nicks and Hayward-Bey. Who would be better for the Ravens and also is there a free agent worth signing for the Ravens.

James Walker: I like both receivers, but I think Bey's outstanding combine puts him slightly ahead of Nicks. In saying that, Bey may go earlier than Baltimore's pick at No. 26, so Nicks may be its only option anyway. Bey is more of a speedy, deep threat but Baltimore could be happy with either receiver.


Here are the best comments and letters this week in the division:

John from Johnstown, PA writes: Hey James, I know I was dormant for a while. Post Super Bowl bliss and all. A spaceship could have landed in my backyard and I probably wouldn't have bothered to tell anyone. I digress, what do you think is the deal with every Pittsburgh assistant that becomes a hc going out and pillaging our free agents. Really. Capers did it in Carolina in he worst way. Mularkey to a lesser extent, and now Kenny has jumped aboard this practice. Is this a case of "Parcells guys?"

Scott from Pittsburgh, PA writes: JW - 'Running Back by committee' doesn't really work in Pittsburgh. Willie Parker was a bit upset with his diminished role last year until Tomlin had a little 'face time' with Willie and told him that's NOT how Steelers roll.......in another words, sometimes the squeaky wheel DOESN'T get the grease - sometimes it just gets taken off the wagon.........The Steelers will have to have a primary back and an identified back-up and third down 'line bomber' back. These roles will HAVE to be meted out and held to or we will have player issues......it worked last year because injuries required others to step up and fill the gap......something Moore did fantastically.........but that won't work this year ......everyone will have to know the pecking order and the time they can expect on the field and the carries they may get.........too much trouble will ensue otherwise....

Luke from Pullman, WA writes: Great articles. I know the Steelers never make a big splash in free agency and they know what their doing, but I am getting frustrated with what seems a lack of work on the O-line. How do you see them repairing this glaring weakness? We need to keep Ben off his back if we want another return. P.S. I think we are doing great in the tailback area, the rest of the Steeler Nation needs to chill about that.


Jason from Annapolis, Md. writes: Hey James, it seems to me that by signing Ray Lewis and Matt Birk that the Ravens are committed to winning a title within the next two years. With that in mind, even if we take a receiver in the first round, it may still take a few years for him to learn the pro game. Do you see the Ravens possibly going after Chad Ocho Cinco? A trade for Chad makes sense in many ways. First, he has a great relationship with Ray Lewis. Second, he will be in a contract year next season and at age 30 his next contract would probably be his last big payday so he would have to perform at a very high level to insure his millions. Third, in addition to his contract motivation, coming to B-more would give him a fresh start in the same division as his former team. His ability to stretch the field could make the Ravens offense very explosive and he could help Derrick Mason groom the Ravens future receivers. I know that Ozzie isn't big on trades; however, getting Chad would remind me of
when we got Shannon Sharpe and went to the superbowl.


The Wolf from Cleveland writes: In response to the Browns releasing Joe Jurevicius........dumb..........bad move losing a leader in the locker room......maybe Crabtree at #5 or perhaps Brian Robiskie in the 2nd round...

Steve from Akron writes: I gotta say this most recent cut by the browns WOW ! I dont care how much they think they saved there is no substitute for integrity , leadership, loyalty ,oh he can catch too ! JJ cleveland loves you ! this one hurts . I fear that randy is losing the pulse of the fans !

Nick from Sandusky, OH writes: James, could the Browns Free Agent signings be any more uninspired? Are there any Jets back-ups left for Mangini to sign? Maybe practice squad guys? Is there any chance of competing in the AFC North next season? Maybe I'm pessimistic, or maybe I'm just a Browns fan.

Scott Wallace writes: James, help me understand the Braylon Edwards hating. The guy is one year removed from a 16(!!!) touchdown season. And he's 25 years old and hyper competitive, and these are all good things. Yes the drops hurt last year and he can show some immaturity at times. But he also has donated more than $1,000,000 of his own money and a ton of his time to charity and is a good person. He just hates losing, and there has been a lot of losing in Cleveland. Trading him would be the dumbest thing Cleveland could do and I need you to help get that word out! If he does get traded, I guarantee he'll be this generation's Paul Warfield and it will haunt us forever...


Tony Knight from Cincy writes: James, I enjoy your blog...keep it comin! thoughts on TJ vs LAV...one big difference we will see is that LAV is a player that does not crave the spotlight the same way TJ does. Coles is a little more workman-like and certainly will be abetter employee when it comes to participating in the preparation aspects of the game the way the boss (lewis) asks you to. I can still hear TJ telling all of us that he just needs a day, maybe two or three for him and the offense to get on the same page.......and then watching he, chad, and palmer appear to be on different planets for three games! Of the three, Housh was most easily replaced. They got a guy with better numbers and a guy who is more coach-friendly. TK