- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
When it comes to contract talks with the Pittsburgh Steelers, all the talk focuses on wide receiver Mike Wallace. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook suggests another priority -- coach Mike Tomlin.
He is signed through this season with a team option for the 2013 season, according to the Steelers' official website.
"It seems likely there will be an announcement -- quietly, of course, with no fanfare -- of an extension for Tomlin before camp," Cook wrote. "But if it doesn't happen before the start of the season in September, it will be reason for great concern. Bill Cowher led the Steelers to a win in Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season but didn't get an extension that offseason when he had two years left on his contract. After coaching the team in '06, he was gone. What a shame it would be if Tomlin left."
Hensley's slant: Tomlin deserves an extension and should continue to rank among the highest-paid coaches in sports. He's currently eighth with an annual salary of $5.8 million. He is only one of seven coaches in league history to win a Super Bowl in his first two seasons as an NFL head coach and became only the sixth to win at least nine games in each of his first five seasons since the 1970 merger. (George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher, Chuck Knox and Mike Sherman were the others.)
BENGALS: Wide receiver Armon Binns became the first member of his family to graduate from college when he received his degree in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati last week, according to the Dayton Daily News. Now, he is looking to take the next step with the Bengals, going from a practice squad player in 2011 to a starter this season. “He was a star on the scout team,” Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said. “He was always making a big catch, big play. He kept improving, and by the end of the year he was on the roster. It just shows that when you put in the hard work, good things will happen to you.” Hensley's slant: Binns is considered one of the favorites to win the No. 2 receiver spot opposite A.J. Green. He will have to beat out Brandon Tate and rookie third-round pick Mohamed Sanu. This competition is close heading into training camp and will be decided in the preseason.
BROWNS: Last week, Browns president Mike Holmgren said he would welcome back Jim Brown "with open arms," and the Hall of Fame running back said that showed "showed a lot of class." But the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Bud Shaw believes Holmgren and Brown still have work to do to resolve their feud. "That's a first step, I guess, but a small, shaky first step," Shaw wrote. "It's like putting yourself out there on eHarmony. That's the easy part. As far as chances of a budding relationship go, Albert Belle and the Indians might be the better bet (and I can't believe I'm saying that)." Hensley's slant: Holmgren is in a tough spot. He obviously thought there were too many voices in the organization when he demoted Brown. But he can't have a franchise legend publicly criticizing the organization on a regular basis. I'm just not sure if there is a middle ground that would satisfy Brown.
RAVENS: Defensive end Art Jones knows about toughness from his family. Just look at his brothers. Jon "Bones" Jones is the UFC light-heavyweight champion, and Chandler, a defensive end, was a first-round pick of the New England Patriots nearly two months ago. Art Jones is looking to take the starting spot of Cory Redding, who went to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. "He showed endless pursuit running down ball carriers to the opposite side of the field," The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston wrote. "Now, if he gets better at pass rushing, he could become a complete player. Until then, he is one of several young players with great potential who need to step up this season." Hensley's slant: I see the Ravens using the combination of Jones and Pernell McPhee to replace Redding. Jones has a 33-pound weight advantage and is stronger in stopping the run, and McPhee is better at pressuring the quarterback.