Monday, April 20, 2009
Inside the AFC North
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
There's a lot to discuss in the AFC North with the NFL draft approaching on Saturday.
Here are some notes and observations this week within the division:
- The recent declaration that the Arizona Cardinals are willing to trade receiver Anquan Boldin could impact the market for Cleveland Browns receiver Braylon Edwards. The Browns, as we hear it, are definitely open to moving Edwards this week but want a king's ransom, which includes multiple picks and possibly a player thrown in for good measure. That is a lot for a receiver coming off a down year. But with Boldin now in the mix, a team like the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles may shift their attention to Arizona if the asking price becomes more reasonable. Both Boldin and Edwards should be near the same range as far as potential compensation, most likely with a price tag of a first- and third-round pick.
- Some league insiders we've talked to in the past week are scratching their heads as to how the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off a massive, $51.175 million extension with Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison without a ton of cap space available this offseason. As of Monday, the breakdown of the deal hasn't been reported. But chances are there were some creative structuring to make it work under the cap. There's also the possibility that other Steelers were asked to restructure their deals behind closed doors to create some wiggle room.
- The Baltimore Ravens recently brought in an interesting list of prospects for visits. Players such as Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin, Ohio State running back Chris Wells and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew are all players projected to go in the top 20 picks. The Ravens own the No. 26 overall pick in the first round, which makes you wonder if they're considering moving up in the draft later this week.
- This year's NFL draft for the Cincinnati Bengals will be the most important of the coach Marvin Lewis era. The team has 11 picks, which gives them tremendous flexibility and value to move up and down the draft board as they please to grab the players they covet. Recently we put the Bengals on sleeper watch for 2009, in part, because they have a ton of draft picks and the healthy return of quarterback Carson Palmer. It is no secret that Cincinnati's scouting has been hit or miss for a long time. But few teams have a better opportunity to dramatically improve its roster this weekend than the Bengals.