- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the 2010 offseason officially underway, let's see what is in the AFC North mailbag this week.
James Walker: I don't know about that, Joe. I have a strange feeling that T.O. might work in Cincinnati, especially if the team is winning and both receivers are productive. I'm still on the fence with this possibility. But that's why owner Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis are paid big bucks to determine if this could work for their team.
Justin from Syracuse, N.Y., is curious if receiver Jerome Simpson could make an impact for the Bengals next year.
Walker: Justin, I never liked the Simpson pick and my thoughts were confirmed the previous two seasons. Maybe the light will come on in Simpson's third year, but the Bengals aren't counting on it. This week's signing of Matt Jones, who was out of football in 2009, shows the organization isn't confident Simpson will step up and fill a role next year.
Edward Robinson from New Jersey wants to know if the Pittsburgh Steelers will draft a running back in the first round.
Walker: The Steelers took running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round two years ago, Edward. So they will use the pick to fill other needs. Pittsburgh can find a second- or third-string running back later in the draft or in free agency.
Lance from Wichita, Kan., writes: Will Pittsburgh consider a taller, possession-type of receiver in free agency?
Walker: Don't get that conversation started again, Lance. You're going to cause another controversy in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a great group of receivers in Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace. Another receiver is the least of their worries. Running the football more effectively near the goal line is a better solution for their red zone problems.
Jason from Austin, Texas, wants to know if Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is "planning to oust" coach Eric Mangini after one year.
Walker: "Planning" is not a good word to describe the situation, Jason. I would say Holmgren is "prepared" to make a move if things go haywire in 2010. Holmgren is hopeful things will work out and he doesn't want his first year with the Browns to be a disaster. If that's the case, Holmgren will not hesitate to make a coaching move next year or even consider a return to the sidelines. He raised some antennas when he hired two of his former assistants for front-office roles.
Zach from Toledo, Ohio, wants to know if there is any progress being made with the contract negotiations between Josh Cribbs and the Browns.
Walker: I checked around on this recently and was told everything is status quo. Conversations are going well, which is a good sign, but this won't be an easy negotiation. It's going to take some time to reach a middle ground, but it looks like cooler heads are prevailing.
Dustin from Pittsburgh writes: What do you think the odds are that Derrick Mason retires this offseason?
Walker: Mason said he's "60-40," but I don't think he clarified the side he was favoring. I think as long as the Ravens make the right pitch, there is a solid chance Mason returns. He's still a good receiver and has good chemistry with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.
Ryan Campbell from Cincinnati writes: I have to say after reading your top 40 players in the AFC North, I am surprised. Are you telling me that not one Bengal is in the top 10 of the division? Do I need to remind you the Bengals swept this division 6-0 this year?
Walker: It's further proof football is a team sport, Ryan.
Rick from Wake Forest, N.C., wants to know why former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson is not considered for the Hall of Fame.
Walker: I do not have a Hall of Fame vote, so I cannot speak on why Anderson is not considered. But not everyone can make it to Canton. Anderson was a very good quarterback but not a Hall of Fame quarterback, in my opinion. A Super Bowl title or two would have helped his case, although he came close.