The NFL owners meetings, which will be attended by every coach, general manager and (not surprisingly) owner, begin in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday. While I won't be there this year, I will keep track of the happenings and provide my thoughts on any major development.
As always, we begin our day in the division with a much-needed Monday wake-up call:
BENGALS: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is "jacked" about what the team has done so far in free agency.
While the Bengals lost defensive linemen Frostee Rucker (Browns) and Jonathan Fanene (Patriots), they signed running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, guard Travelle Wharton and cornerback Jason Allen along with re-signing safety Reggie Nelson and Adam Jones.
"We basically were able to go out and sign pretty much the guys we hoped to sign,” Lewis told Cincinnati reporters (via the Cincinnati Enquirer) upon arriving at the owners meetings.
He is especially excited about the signing of Green-Ellis. The Bengals added Green-Ellis over Michael Bush, who had been considered by league observers as the favorite to land in Cincinnati.
“A month ago if you told me we were going to sign BenJarvus I would have taken it. After meeting him you feel even better,” Lewis said. “His versatility. His ability to catch. To protect. … He does it all. He can be a three-down player if he needs to be.”
Hensley's slant: I wouldn't necessarily be "jacked" about the Bengals' signings. They signed Wharton, not Ben Grubbs. They added Derrick Harvey, not Mario Williams. Still, you have to be pleased with what Cincinnati has done so far. While they didn't make a splash, the Bengals upgraded themselves at running back and left guard and kept their free-agent priority in Nelson.
BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto sees the Browns drafting Brandon Weeden or someone else lower in the draft but believes Colt McCoy is the starter. He doesn't think Seneca Wallace has any chance in a quarterback competition. "He has a 6-15 record as a starter, 1-6 with the Browns. His stats were even worse than McCoy's last year," Pluto wrote. "It makes no sense to start Wallace. In fact, the Browns should ask themselves if he is the right guy as a backup, because he has been unhappy in that role -- and it seems he wasn't exactly a lot of help to McCoy." Hensley's slant: I'm not saying Wallace will win the competition, but you can't dismiss him completely either. He has more experience than McCoy and has never had a shot at winning the job in Cleveland. That being said, I still think McCoy is the season-opening starter for the Browns.
RAVENS: It's unlikely that the Ravens will do any heavy spending in free agency during the owners meetings, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times. The Ravens were roughly $5 million under the salary cap before signing inside linebacker Jameel McClain, outside linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, special-teams ace Corey Graham and backup safety Sean Considine. Still, Baltimore hasn't ruled out potential additions. "Further moves are possible," coach John Harbaugh said. "There are some areas, still, that we would like to continue to shore up before the draft, but I don't think we'll say, ‘Hey, we've got to do this, we've got to do that.' You can't make a move unless the player is available and you can actually sign the guy." Hensley's slant: The Ravens should now turn their focus to new contracts for quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice. That would free up much-needed cap space for Baltimore to make some of those additional moves. But I don't see Flacco or Rice signing new deals anytime before the draft.
STEELERS: Max Starks isn't expected to talk to the Steelers before making more progress with his surgically repaired knee, the free-agent left tackle told Fox Sports. He tore his ACL in the playoff loss at Denver. Starks, 30, said it's his "intent" to re-sign with the Steelers. "I have the opportunity to go back there, but I know the reality is I’m not going to get a legitimate look until June for my knee when I can actually run off the ACL injury," Starks said. "That will really determine what team I go to.” Hensley's slant: The Steelers will have a better understanding where they are at left tackle in June. By that time, the draft will be long over and the Steelers should have seen Marcus Gilbert at left tackle at offseason minicamps. Starks is a good fallback for a team that is planning to start Willie Colon, who has essentially missed the past two seasons because of injuries, at right tackle.