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Monday, January 18, 2010
AFC North mailbag

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Now that the season is over for every AFC North team, let's see what's questions are in our division mailbag.

Andy Prough from Kyle, Texas, believes 2010 could "end up being more of the same mediocre division play" in the AFC North.

James Walker: Thanks for the comment, Andy. I was thinking about this yesterday, because I automatically assumed last year the division was so much stronger. But when I added up the regular-season wins, the AFC North had 31 victories in 2008 and 33 in 2009. This year there were three decent teams with winning records that didn't make much noise in the playoffs. Last year, there were two awful teams to pair with two elite teams that advanced to the conference title game and one that eventually won a Super Bowl. Personally, I feel the division is better when it has success in the playoffs. But it’s really a matter of perspective.


Andrew from Baltimore, Md., writes: I think Ed Reed retires this offseason. Any thoughts?

Walker: I believe Reed when he says it’s "50-50." This isn't lip service, and Reed is not the type to talk for the sake of talking. I think retirement is a very real possibility in his mind. He's dealt with this neck condition for a couple of seasons now, and it’s probably crossed his mind before, but never to this current degree.


Jeff from Springfield, Ohio, wants to know if Stanford running back Toby Gerhart could be a possibility for the Cleveland Browns at No. 7 overall.

Walker: This spot it too high for Gerhart, Jeff. I don’t want to get into draft position too much, because something in January could be completely different after next month’s combine and individual workouts. But right now Gerhart is definitely not considered at top-seven pick.


Casey B. from Cincinnati, Ohio, writes: What are the chances the Cincinnati Bengals take a chance on Brandon Marshall?

Walker: We get this question a lot from both Ravens fans and Bengals fans. But the answer is the same. Marshall will be a restricted free agent next season and will cost a lot of money and draft picks. So I would be shocked if he lands in the AFC North next season. The Bengals aren't a team that spends a lot of money in free agency, and the Ravens don't give away high draft picks. We haven't even mentioned Marshall's baggage. So let's rule him out for now.