Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Tony Pashos is "really upset" about being released by the Cleveland Browns because the team failed to support him after he played injured last season, the agent for the right tackle told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Pashos failed his exit physical, and the Browns are expected to announce his release today. He played with a ruptured tendon in his left foot and had surgery last Tuesday.
The Browns will save $2 million in salary-cap room by cutting Pashos, who was scheduled to make $3.35 million in 2012. He will receive $1 million in an injury settlement, but his value in free agency is hurt by the fact that he needs nine to 10 months of rehab.
"Because the team lacked depth on the offensive line, especially at right tackle, Tony wanted to help the team," agent Rick Smith told the Plain Dealer. "But in order to be able to do that, he had to be given an enormous amount of pain pills and shots. It was an enormous amount, to the point where at Christmas, he went into the hospital with three ulcers from the pain medication. You can see that he missed the final regular season game, because he was in the hospital with the ulcers."
Hensley's slant: There's no loyalty among players (the bounty program proves that), so Pashos shouldn't expect any loyalty from the Browns. It's a tough story, but it's the business side of the NFL. The Browns need a better right tackle than Pashos. In 12 games, Pashos allowed nine sacks and committed six penalties.
BENGALS: Three of the Bengals' top free agents -- safety Reggie Nelson and defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene -- will test the market, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We will continue to have discussions with the Bengals but we will explore all options," Nelson’s agent, Hadley Engelhard, said. The Bengals also announced the signing of fullback Chris Pressley to a two-year extension. Hensley's slant: Nelson will be the toughest one for the Bengals to keep because he is the second-best safety available in free agency. But there shouldn't be any excuses if the Bengals really want to hold onto him. Cincinnati has the most salary-cap room of any team in the NFL.
RAVENS: The team extended contract offers to their three top restricted free agents, giving a first-round tender to cornerback Lardarius Webb and second-round ones to cornerback Cary Williams and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, according to the Baltimore Sun. "I'm very blessed to get a first-round tender!" Webb said on his Twitter page. "I guess everything is up in the air now!" Hensley's slant: By giving such a high tender to Ellerbe, it says to me that the Ravens don't expect to keep unrestricted free agent Jameel McClain. The second-round tender virtually guarantees that Ellerbe will return and will be given a shot at starting next to Ray Lewis. Ellerbe, though, has been one of the biggest underachievers on the team.
STEELERS: As expected, the Steelers put a first-round tender on wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The Steelers' other restricted free agents received the low tender, including starting guards Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster. Because they were undrafted, the Steelers wouldn't receive any compensation if they allowed Legursky or Foster to sign elsewhere. Hensley's slant: The Steelers don't have much depth at guard after Chris Kemoeatu was cut and Trai Essex heads to free agency. But I don't see it as a risk to give low tenders to Legursky and Foster. The Steelers can still match any offer.