Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review is suggesting that the Pittsburgh Steelers could place the franchise tag on restricted free agent Mike Wallace, who is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and his first Pro Bowl.
If the Steelers place a first-round RFA tender on Wallace, they would offer him a one-year, $2.7 million contract that allows them to match any offer made to Wallace by another team or get a first-round pick as compensation if they let him sign elsewhere. If Pittsburgh uses the franchise tag on him, the Steelers would offer him a one-year contract worth roughly $9.6 million that would give the team exclusive negotiating rights with him.
General manager Kevin Colbert told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team hasn't ruled out putting the tag on Wallace.
"Certainly Mike has done a lot to establish himself as a Pro Bowl receiver," Colbert said, "and we want to try to keep Mike here for the long run."
Hensley's slant: Keeping Wallace is the top offseason priority for the Steelers. While the franchise tag prevents other teams from taking Wallace, it's a steep price for such protection -- a difference of nearly $7 million. With the Steelers' current salary-cap situation, this is a luxury that the team probably can't afford.
BENGALS: New defensive backs coach Mark Carrier wants to bring an aggressive style to the Bengals' secondary. As a safety in the NFL, he had 32 interceptions while playing for the Bears (1990-1996), Detroit Lions (1997-1999) and the Washington Redskins (2000). "The way the game is played, you just can't sit back anymore; you have to force the action," Carrier told the team's website. "If you don't, the way the quarterbacks and the rules are, it's just too tough. You have to make things happen and you still have to be disciplined. I'm not saying take chances. But you can't go out there not trying to get beat. You have to go out there and make plays." Hensley's slant: Carrier's biggest challenge is getting the Bengals to generate more turnovers. The Bengals' 10 interceptions last season were the fewest in coach Marvin Lewis' nine seasons in Cincinnati. It will certainly help if cornerback Leon Hall can play a full season.
BROWNS: Former Bengals defensive back Solomon Wilcots told the Canton Repository that the Browns "can do better" than Colt McCoy as their quarterback and should go after Baylor's Robert Griffin III in the first round. “RG3 is in their wheelhouse," Wilcots said. "We need to find out more about him, but he seems to be all that they would want in that West Coast system. Really good arm. Smart kid. Athletic." Hensley's slant: I agree that the Browns have to upgrade from McCoy. Just don't see him leading Cleveland to the playoffs. If the Browns are sure RG3 is their franchise quarterback, they have to be prepared to move up from No. 4 to get him.
RAVENS: For the first time in his career, offensive tackle Michael Oher is preparing to line up at the same position in consecutive seasons. With Bryant McKinnie expected to return at left tackle, Oher will line up on the right side. “It’s not easy to do at all. It takes time to get used to,” Oher told a Baltimore radio station about the constant switching. “So this offseason I can work at it a little bit more. If I can play one position, that would be great. It helps you out.” Hensley's slant: Oher, who led the Ravens with 10 penalties (including five holding ones), hasn't lived up to the expectations of being the 23rd overall pick of the 2009 draft. Part of the problem has been flipping from right to left tackle and back again. He can be an average left tackle, but he can be a very productive right tackle. The Ravens should keep him on the right side for next season and the future.