AFC North: Daunte Culpepper
Roethlisberger is scheduled to receive $11.6 million this year ($9 million in a bonus as part of a restructured contract), which will give him $76.5 million from an eight-year, $102 million deal that he signed in March 2008. The most any NFL player had received from a $100 million contract was $69 million (Donovan McNabb).
This will likely be all that Roethlisberger will get from his current deal. Roethlisberger is in line for an extension after this season because his salary-cap number will be around $18 million and restructuring his contract this time won't free up much cap room. Plus, an extension would probably guarantee the 31-year-old Roethlisberger finishing his career with the Steelers.
Of the eight completed $100 million contracts in the NFL, only McNabb and Brett Favre earned over 50 percent of the maximum value of the contract. Daunte Culpepper only received $19 million from his $102 million deal signed in 2003 and is now facing foreclosure on his South Florida home.
Of the eight active $100 million contracts, Drew Brees is second behind Roethlisberger, receiving $40 million.
- If I’m the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first free agent I’m calling this week is quarterback Jeff Garcia. With the status of Ben Roethlisberger (head) up in the air this week and backup Charlie Batch out for the rest of the regular season, the Steelers need a veteran replacement. Although chances are slim that someone can come in and start right away against the Baltimore Ravens, if anyone has a chance, it’s Garcia. It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh handles this if Roethlisberger isn't healthy enough to return. Would the Steelers really go with Dennis Dixon in a crucial game?
- If Pittsburgh isn’t convinced that drastic changes need to be made ASAP on special teams, I’m not sure they ever will be this season. Pittsburgh has allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns and two in the past two weeks. These are huge blows in a game. Kansas City Chiefs tailback Jamaal Charles took the opening kickoff to the house in their overtime win over Pittsburgh Sunday, and that play gave Kansas City all the confidence it needed to hang in there and eventually pull off the upset. The Steelers have a wealth of talent, and it's time to take some of those backups and replace them with better players.
- We are getting a lot of e-mails in our AFC North inbox from Cleveland Browns fans regarding the frantic finish in a loss to the Detroit Lions. But the referees got this one right. Cleveland defensive back Hank Poteat clearly committed pass interference on the Hail Mary. Yes, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford hurt his shoulder with no timeouts, but above all else a game cannot end on a penalty. Another huge mistake was Browns head coach Eric Mangini calling a timeout for an explanation, which allowed Stafford to return and throw the game-winning touchdown. Who knows if an ice cold Daunte Culpepper could have come in and successfully executed that play in the clutch?
- Here is a question for the Cincinnati Bengals: Why is Andre Caldwell returning kickoffs? It's been clear all season that Caldwell is not very good in that role. He dances too much and doesn't hit the hole or run a straight line. Caldwell burned the Bengals again on a kick return with a late fumble that set up the Oakland Raiders' game-winning field goal Sunday. Rookie tailback Bernard Scott was coming into his own in that role following a big touchdown return against the Steelers, and Scott or someone else should have been the player returning the final kick. Caldwell is a solid receiver but it's time to give that kickoff return experiment a rest.
- The Bengals also could not rush the passer against Oakland. Journeyman quarterback Bruce Gradkowski threw 31 times and Cincinnati had zero sacks. The Bengals also continued their season-long trend of not defending the tight ends. Oakland tight end Zach Miller led the Raiders with five catches for 65 yards. When you can't pressure the quarterback and constantly leave the middle of the field open that usually results in a loss.
- The replay of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco’s final interception in a loss the Indianapolis Colts looks like he just decided to throw into triple coverage. But Flacco said he was fooled and never saw Indianapolis linebacker Gary Brackett drop on the backside. Brackett made a heady play by briefly engaging with an offensive lineman and then dropping into the spot where Ravens tailback Ray Rice was heading. According to Brackett, Baltimore ran the play earlier and he recognized the route. Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron also said afterwards that he was fooled by Bracket's decision not to rush the quarterback.
- Let me finish by saying this was the worst weekend of football that I can recall in nearly two seasons covering the division. Three AFC North teams lost to awful opponents in sloppy fashion, and the one possible upset in the division was foiled by poor play in the red zone. I know it's just one Sunday, but group performances like this lead me to believe the AFC North is not as good as I once thought heading down the stretch of the regular season.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
BEREA, Ohio -- Can you throw a football 50 yards or more?
Then the Cleveland Browns may want to give you a call.
Can you take a hit or read an NFL defense?
Then the Browns are definitely interested.
After losing its second quarterback in two weeks, Cleveland is looking to sign a "veteran" quarterback, coach Romeo Crennel said during his Monday news conference.
|Watch highlights from the Colts' 10-6 win over the Browns.|
The Browns have just one healthy signal caller on the active roster after losing Derek Anderson to a MCL injury in Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Just a week prior, Brady Quinn shut it down for the year with a broken finger.
"It's going to be a great challenge for us, and one that I'm looking forward to," Dorsey said of his first start of the season.
Crennel added that the veteran Cleveland is seeking will not be brought in to compete for the starting job, ala Daunte Culpepper and the Detroit Lions. He will just be a backup. The Browns also have options with Richard Bartel on the practice squad and Joshua Cribbs, a former college quarterback who is hoping for a chance to throw the ball.
"Our situation hasn't been addressed yet, because we just came off the [injury], but I'm sure it will be addressed in practice today," Cribbs said.
In other Browns news Monday, starting tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. will have an MRI on his sprained ankle and will learn his status for the next game soon. Quinn also has not made a decision on whether to have surgery on his broken right index finger.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Although it doesn't seem significant on the surface, those that follow the Steelers closely know how much of a blow backup quarterback Charlie Batch's injury is to the team.
Batch broke his right collarbone while scrambling in Pittsburgh's 16-10 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The timeline for this type of injury typically ranges from 4-6 weeks.
The statistics won't tell the full story of Batch's loss. Batch has been the brains and calming influence behind starter Ben Roethlisberger's development the past four seasons and most recently rookie Dennis Dixon.
"I was like a sponge soaking everything in from (Batch) and Ben, but mostly (Batch)," Dixon said last night. "I'm going to continue doing that, too."
But the tutoring will come while Batch is not in uniform.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Saturday night that Pittsburgh will search for a veteran quarterback. A couple possible replacements that are still on the market include free-agent signal callers Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich.
"It is an unfortunate incident, but as you guys know our approach is that this is part of football," Tomlin said. "We will regroup and make the necessary adjustments."