AFC North: Chris Wells

It appears former Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson is headed to the desert.

Anderson
Anderson
Multiple reports surfaced Wednesday that Anderson has agreed to terms with the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona should be a good fit for Anderson. He needs good weapons around him to thrive and receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells are all good players. Anderson also provides insurance and competition for Matt Leinart.

Anderson, a former Pro Bowler, had his best year in 2007 but wasn't able to duplicate that season with the Browns. He was often ridiculed in Cleveland and waited until his release to publicly fire back at Browns fans. Anderson later apologized.

In case you're wondering, the Browns do not play the Cardinals next season.

(Update: He received a two-year deal worth $7.25 million with $3.25 million guaranteed. The deal could max out to as much as approximately $18 million if he reaches all of his performance incentives.)

Blogger draft recap

April, 22, 2009
4/22/09
2:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

ESPN.com held its first annual Blog Network NFL draft this week. The results were posted on Wednesday, and you can find all the results here.

But fear not, AFC North fans. Your division had the best general manager in the business.

We landed the top-rated offensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, the top pass-rusher for the Cleveland Browns, one of the top receivers and a local product for the Baltimore Ravens and the best center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here is how it all broke down:

  Orakpo

Cleveland Browns

Pick No. 5: Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas

Why: After sending smoke screens in every direction possible, this is the guy we really wanted in Cleveland. We are smart enough to know that the AFC North is about defense first and having players who can pressure the quarterback. Orakpo is the best at that in this draft. Plus, he will make fellow linebacker Kamerion Wimbley a better player, so we feel like we're getting two players in this deal. We're glad Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree was taken one spot higher, because we never wanted to take him this high and the fact that he was off the board will keep the media off our backs.

  Smith

Cincinnati Bengals

Pick No. 6: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor

Why: We are still a little shocked by this one. Going in we didn't feel drafting Smith was a possibility for Cincinnati, but it shows how unpredictable draft day can be. Smith was the top player on our board for the Bengals, both because of need and talent. To land this left tackle at No. 6 was a great achievement. We thought Virginia's Eugene Monroe had a chance to fall at this spot. But NFC West GM Mike Sando must be down on Smith, because he passed him over twice with the St. Louis Rams at No. 2 and the Seattle Seahawks at No. 4. Because of Sando, Smith just told our coaching staff he's arriving in Cincinnati with a chip on his shoulder, which is what we like to hear.

  Heyward-Bey

Baltimore Ravens

Pick No. 26: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

Why: Right around pick 20, we got a little nervous. We contacted all blogger GMs saying we wanted to trade up from No. 26, and I had $20 in my pocket to do it. NFC East GM Matt Mosley laughed out loud and took Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells with the No. 21 pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. True story. But with USC linebacker Rey Maualuga off the board, the only player we really coveted at this point was Heyward-Bey. Luckily he got past teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. Their loss is Baltimore's gain.

  Mack

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick No. 32: Alex Mack, C, California

Why: Things panned out just as expected for Pittsburgh. Every top center was available with the final pick in the first round, so we took the highest one on our draft board in Mack. He will help improve our running game and should give us some options up front to move players around. Or we can simply let Mack learn the system before taking over permanently at center in 2010, when starter Justin Hartwig becomes a free agent.

Overall, we hope AFC North readers are happy with their picks. Let's see if the real NFL draft turns out just as well this weekend.

Inside the AFC North

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
1:30
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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:

  • Boldin
    Edwards
    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.
  • Harrison
    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.

Posted by ESPN.com staff

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns
  • The Browns are going to host former Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry and former Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells next week in preparation for the draft, reports The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Morning take: Super rematch

March, 31, 2009
3/31/09
7:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC North:

  • In a Super Bowl rematch, the Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason opener at Heinz Field.

Morning take: Picking up where he left off, our guess is Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes has a huge first quarter against the Cards.

Morning take: With Ocho Cinco's silence this offseason, it's unclear what this means for Cincinnati. But following last year's circus, this could be a situation to monitor.

  • The preseason slate for the Cleveland Browns includes home games against the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions.

Morning take: With a possible quarterback competition looming between Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, these will be meaningful exhibition games for Cleveland.

  • Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells is scheduled to visit the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday.

Morning take: This isn't an area of need and the chances of Wells falling to No. 26 are slim. But if Baltimore cares to trade up ...

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:

Morning take: There is nothing wrong with sticking up for your player. But No. 5 overall is too high to take a running back with a long injury history.

  • Former Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams is visiting the Cincinnati Bengals.

Morning take: In a physical division, the Bengals could use an enforcer in the back of the defense. If health is not an issue, this may not be a bad move.

Morning take: Pace would be expected to play on the right side, which makes you wonder what this would mean for current Ravens tackle Willie Anderson?

Morning take: Every team in the AFC North take note. Center is the one position all four teams could address at some point in next month's NFL draft.

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