AFC North: Brian St. Pierre

Quarterback Landry Jones has only completed a rookie minicamp and he's already being asked whether he's going to replace Ben Roethlisberger.

"I have no idea," Jones said, via the Associated Press. "You might want to talk to the coaches or Mr. Rooney on that one, what they want to do."

The more appropriate question is whether the Steelers are going to be able to develop Jones. He was a highly decorated quarterback at Oklahoma, but the Steelers' track record at grooming young quarterbacks isn't as impressive.

Since Kevin Colbert joined the Steelers in 2000 as director of football operations (assumed title of general manager in 2010), Pittsburgh has drafted six quarterbacks, including Jones last month. Roethlisberger, a first-round pick in 2004, has won two Super Bowls. Four others, all drafted in the fifth round, never established themselves as a long-term backup. This has allowed Charlie Batch to remain with the team for so long.
  • Tee Martin, a 2000 fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, is notable for the fact that he's one of six quarterbacks drafted before Tom Brady that year. He lasted two seasons with the Steelers and never threw a pass in the regular season.
  • Brian St. Pierre, a 2003 fifth-round pick out of Boston College, was cut more times by the Steelers (three total) than games played for them (one).
  • Omar Jacobs, a 2006 fifth-round pick out of Bowling Green, never made the active roster. He currently plays for the Wichita Falls Nighthawks of the Professional American Football League.
  • Dennis Dixon, a 2008 fifth-round pick out of Oregon, had the most staying power of these quarterbacks but he was primarily the No. 3 quarterback during his four seasons in Pittsburgh. Dixon did make three starts, winning two. He has since reunited with college coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia.

The Steelers are trying again with Jones, who was drafted in the fourth round. Pittsburgh will likely use him as a third quarterback this year behind Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski, who signed a three-year deal this offseason to be the primary backup. Based on their history, the Steelers would be pleased if Jones eventually becomes the No. 2 quarterback.
By Tuesday, teams will have to be under the salary cap, restricted free agents will get their tenders and unrestricted free agents will be able to sign with anyone. As we wait for the mayhem to start, here's your wake-up call ...

RAVENS: Running back Bernard Pierce, perhaps the best of last year's rookie class for the Ravens, told The Baltimore Sun that he has recovered from a series of injuries, which included a bone bruise in his knee. Pierce didn't have to undergo any surgical procedures, so he can focus on getting physically ready for next season. "I'm looking for the same outcome, just a little better," Pierce said. "I feel like I did good for my first year. Next year, I'm going to try to do a lot better. The stats will speak for themselves at the end of the day." Pierce gained 202 yards in the playoffs after running for 532 yards in the regular season.

BENGALS: The Bengals signed running back Cedric Peerman, a special-teams standout who could have become a free agent next week, to a two-year deal. He had two long runs off fake punts last season. He also carried 34 times for 178 yards. The team also tendered contracts to safety Jeromy Miles (a $1.3 million first-right-of-refusal offer for a restricted free agent) and to two exclusive-rights free agents, receiver Andrew Hawkins and linebacker Vincent Rey. All four of these guys have made significant contributions to us reaching the playoffs each of the last two years," coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement, via the team's official website. “They are players we want to retain, and this (tender process) is a step in that direction.”

STEELERS: Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn't see the Steelers drafting a quarterback any higher than the fifth round. As Dulac points out, that's been the time that the Steelers have decided to look for a developmental quarterback, taking Dennis Dixon (2008), Brian St. Pierre (2003) and Tee Martin (2000) in the fifth round. The Steelers went with veterans Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich as Ben Roethlisberger's backups last season. This could be the year when Pittsburgh goes with a younger quarterback at that spot, or at least at No. 3.

BROWNS: The Plain Dealer speculated that the Browns could go after free agent Louis Vasquez to take over at left guard for Jason Pinkston, who missed the final 10 games last season after having a blood clot in his lung. The paper reported that the Browns are uncertain whether Pinkston will return. Vasquez, a massive lineman at 6-feet-4, 330 pounds, started for new offensive coordinator Norv Turner in San Diego for the past four seasons. He turns 26 next month and is entering the prime of his career.



Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22