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AFC North weekend mailbag

3/4/2012

Let's try to open some mail before another AFC North player gets the franchise tag or gets cut ...

Lance from Akron, Ohio, writes: Do the Browns get draft pick compensation if Peyton Hillis leaves?

Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: What it boils down to is this: Teams receive compensatory picks if the number of their unrestricted free agents who sign elsewhere (players whose contract expires and not the ones who are released) is more than the number of unrestricted free agents they sign from other teams. For example, if Hillis and five other Browns free agents sign with other teams and the Browns only sign four free agents, they will receive compensatory picks. The level of the picks assigned -- a third-rounder or a seventh-round one -- are based on the contracts signed by their former players sign and how they play in the 2012 season.


Cameron from Allen, Texas, writes: Would the Browns be at all interested in wide receiver Lee Evans? I know that he was a huge disappointment in Baltimore, but wasn't he supposed to be quite good when they signed him? Did he just have a bad (and injury-riddled) year that he can get over, or is he really just not that great?

Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: I believe Evans is done. His body is starting to break down, and his confidence is shot. Evans was one of the most durable wide receivers in the game, playing in the first 109 games of his career. But he has now missed 10 of his past 19 regular-season games because of injuries. His numbers have declined for the past four seasons, dropping from 63 catches in 2008 to four in 2011. The Browns definitely need a deep threat, but they need a deep threat who will get out on the field. Evans is a huge question mark.


Ryan from Elkton, Md., writes: With all the cuts the Steelers have done this week, who do you think the Ravens may try to sign to add depth or upgrade if anyone? I was thinking guard Chris Kemoeatu if we are not able to re-sign Ben Grubbs.

Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: Kemoeatu wouldn't be a bad addition as long as you're not counting on him to be a starter. The Ravens can't bank on Kemoeatu replacing Grubbs when the Steelers benched him in favor for Doug Legursky. Some team is going to sign Kemoeatu for depth initially and possibly give him another shot to start down the line. He was the Steelers' highest-paid offensive lineman, so he has talent. His biggest problem was being a penalty magnet, which continually held back the offense. Kemoeatu has to became a more disciplined player before he could be considered a candidate to start again.


Megslin from Albany, N.Y., writes: I normally love your writing, and was all ready to agree with everything you said about the Steelers linebacker James Farrior cut being the last. But then you commented that "his play had declined so much he was sharing playing time with Larry Foote." Not exactly. He still ranked as the fourth highest tackler on the team, even while playing less downs. True, with his age, he did have to get spelled with another player on some downs (like Casey Hampton typically does). However, that doesn't mean his play is so awful he needed to come off the field. I realize that's not how you intended to mean it, but as a big Farrior fan who is sad to see the defensive leader, heart of the team, and yes, Steeler starter go, I had to disagree with how you worded it.

Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: You can never question Farrior's leadership but you can question his play. It was really noticeable in passing situations. He couldn't cover anyone downfield. That's why he had to be taken off the field. But it was his age (37) that proved to be the biggest factor in why the Steelers chose to cut him over backup Larry Foote (31).


Kory from Hillsborough, Calif., writes: It seems like for the most part historically, kickers who have gotten the franchise tag have gone on to stink it up the following season. I attest that to the fact that kickers need 100 percent of their head into kicking but that they're thinking about their contract situation or about how unpleased they are without a long term commitment by the team. Every year, the kicker's success seems to always come down to the mindset they have out on the field. Should Bengals fans be concerned about Mike Nugent getting tagged? We're all thinking about the Shayne Graham situation that went downhill quickly.

Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: It's only natural for Bengals fans to think of how the franchise tag failed to work with Shayne Graham after Cincinnati placed it on Nugent on Friday. I agree with your assessment that the year-to-year nature of the tag can affect the mindset of a kicker, whose play relies heavily on their focus. But I think Nugent will handle the tag just as well as the Browns' Phil Dawson did last year. Dawson converted 24-of-29 field goal attempts, and two of those misses were the result of bad snaps. He also hit seven field goals of 50 yards or longer, and no one in the NFL had more from that distance in 2011. The tag didn't affect Dawson's play.