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Friday, February 22, 2013
Wake-up: Birk announcing his retirement?

By Jamison Hensley

An anonymous source told me that Steelers fans weren't happy with my Thursday column on the fractured locker room. The person who should really be unhappy is LaMarr Woodley. While it seems like every Steelers player is upset at an anonymous source, no one has stepped up to defend Woodley. So take that for what it's worth. Now, here is your wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Center Matt Birk plans on making an announcement at a community event Friday, according to a late-night press release by the Ravens. There has been speculation that Birk would retire after winning his first Super Bowl in his 15th NFL season. The Ravens would gain $2 million in cap room with the six-time Pro Bowl player no longer on the roster. Gino Gradkowski, a fourth-round pick in 2012, was selected to be the eventual replacement for Birk.

BENGALS: The report that the Bengals won't try to re-sign linebacker Rey Maualuga is inaccurate, a source told Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. According to Hobson, the Bengals are prepared to move Vontaze Burfict from outside to middle linebacker but they "could be open" to putting Maualuga on the strong side, where he played his first two seasons in Cincinnati. Hobson also reported that the buzz around the Bengals is they'll try to sign both defensive end Michael Johnson and right tackle Andre Smith to long-term deals before free agency begins Mach 12.

STEELERS: General manager Kevin Colbert disagreed with the assertion that the Steelers are a team in transition. He feels that label implies the Steelers don't think they can win the Super Bowl. "I don't view our team as old," Colbert said, via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Sure, we have some old players, but they are significant players. We have a lot of young guys who I think are ready to take the next step if it is their turn. We'll find out where they all are after free agency, after the draft."

BROWNS: Eagles coach Chip Kelly disputed an NFL.com report that said he was close to signing with the Browns during their coaching search last month, calling it "erroneous." Kelly said his decision was always between staying at Oregon or going to Philadelphia. "I just thought for me, the Eagles was the best opportunity," Kelly said, via The Plain Dealer. "If I was going to go anywhere, it was going to be Philadelphia. It wasn't an elimination of anything. I just thought Philly was the best fit. I just fit in better." If you're keeping score at home, Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner recently said it was the Browns who walked away from Kelly and not the other way around. Now, Kelly is saying that he never even considered the Browns.