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Thursday, March 4, 2010
AFC North mailbag

By James Walker
ESPN.com

With free agency set to start Friday, now is a good time to answer one last batch of questions.

Danny and Scott F. want to know why it's not a "no-brainer" for the Cincinnati Bengals to sign restricted free agent Brandon Marshall.

James Walker: Because you're both forgetting the other end, which is a large contract extension. The Denver Broncos were smart to put only a first-round tender on Marshall. Teams around the league, particularly those late in the first round, could view this as a fair price. But not only will the Bengals or any other team have to give up a first-round pick, but also a sizable multi-year deal. I don't think the Bengals are willing to spend top dollar for Marshall.

Wolfey from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: Why have the Cleveland Browns not released Derek Anderson yet?

Walker: Anderson's $2 million bonus isn't due until March 19. So Cleveland has approximately two weeks to decide. But everything I'm hearing is there's very little chance the Browns pay Anderson the bonus and his $7.45 million salary next season. I also wrote Wednesday on the AFC North blog Twitter that Cleveland hasn't approached Anderson to restructure. So chances are the Browns will release the quarterback soon.

Wilson from Baltimore writes: There is no doubt in my mind that the Ravens need to draft a receiving threat in the first round. My favorite for the moment is Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech, but Arrelious Benn and Golden Tate could also be there.

Walker: Thomas is a good prospect, but he recently broke his foot before the combine. So his injury will hurt his draft stock. Benn and Tate are both possibilities. But I have a feeling Baltimore will make a strong push for a receiver in free agency as well.

AJ Cazaurang from Daytona Beach, Fla., writes: I was wondering who you think the Steelers will take with they're first-round pick? I really want to see them draft Idaho guard Mike Iupati.

Walker: I agree that Iupati would be a solid pick. Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson, who is a frequent guest on this blog, also agrees. This year's draft is very deep and I think the Steelers will land a good player at No. 18. Although things can change after free agency, Pittsburgh's likely targets are offensive line, nose tackle and cornerback in no particular order. I don't think the Steelers could go wrong getting help at any of these positions.