AFC North: J.P. Foschi

AFC North: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
Baltimore Ravens

Potential unrestricted free agents: DL Justin Bannan, DL Dwan Edwards, CB Corey Ivy, WR Derrick Mason, TE L.J. Smith, WR David Tyree, CB Frank Walker, WR Kelley Washington

Potential restricted free agents: OT Jared Gaither, K Billy Cundiff, S Dawan Landry, CB Fabian Washington, P Sam Koch, OG Chris Chester, QB John Beck, QB Troy Smith, OT Tony Moll, FB Le'Ron McClain, LB Prescott Burgess, WR Mark Clayton, WR Demetrius Williams

Franchise tag: None

What to expect: The Ravens have a ton of quality free agents. It will be interesting because Baltimore is the only division team which has to abide by the "Final Eight Plan" for making the divisional playoffs. This will restrict Baltimore from making a lot of moves. Therefore, expect the team to keep most of its key restricted free agents while trying to explore the trade market. On the unrestricted side, the Ravens are negotiating with receiver Derrick Mason and are expected to keep him. But two players who could get some interest in the open market are defensive linemen Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan. Baltimore likes both players but could lose at least one.

Cincinnati Bengals

Potential unrestricted free agents: K Shayne Graham, FB Jeremi Johnson, RB Larry Johnson, DT Tank Johnson, TE Reggie Kelly, OG Bobbie Williams, S Roy Williams, TE J.P. Foschi

Potential restricted free agents: LB Brandon Johnson, LB Rashad Jeanty, OL Evan Mathis, C Kyle Cook, DE Frostee Rucker, CB David Jones, LB Abdul Hodge, QB Jordan Palmer, TE Daniel Coats, DT Shaun Smith

Franchise tag: None

What to expect: The Bengals have yet to announce their tenders, so this list could change by Thursday evening. But traditionally they are not big spenders in free agency and will stay true to that even with an uncapped year. Cincinnati could make one or two decent outside signings that may help the team. Finding a receiver would be the most likely target. The most interesting in-house name is offensive guard Bobbie Williams, who likely will test the market. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer also would like to keep veteran Roy Williams and Tank Johnson. But the team hasn't made a major push for either player before they're let loose Friday.

Cleveland Browns

Potential unrestricted free agents: WR Mike Furrey, TE Michael Gaines, OG Rex Hadnot, CB Hank Poteat, OL Ryan Tucker, OG Billy Yates

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jerome Harrison, LB D'Qwell Jackson, FB Lawrence Vickers, S Brodney Pool, S Abram Elam, DE Matt Roth

Franchise tag: None

What to expect: Cleveland has the money to spend and the biggest talent deficit. So look for the Browns to attempt to make up ground in free agency. Major names like defensive end Julius Peppers and tailback Thomas Jones have been mentioned as possibilities for Cleveland, but that remains to be seen. Internally, the Browns should be interested in keeping Harrison and Vickers in their backfield. Jackson also has value. None of their unrestricted players are priorities for the team and will be allowed to hit free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Potential unrestricted free agents: QB Charlie Batch, LB Rocky Boiman, S Tyrone Carter, S Ryan Clark, DE Nick Eason, WR Joey Galloway, DE Travis Kirschke, RB Willie Parker, CB Deshea Townsend , FB Carey Davis, OG Darnell Stapleton

Potential restricted free agents: OT Willie Colon, CB William Gay, P Daniel Sepulveda, TE Matt Spaeth

Franchise tag: K Jeff Reed

What to expect: The Steelers are pretty predictable. Pittsburgh intends to keep all of its restricted free agents, get a long-term deal complete with Reed, who has the franchise tag, and let nearly all of their unrestricted free agents test the market. The exception is Clark, who the Steelers targeted as a priority but has yet to reach a long-term extension before Friday's deadline. Negotiations have been ongoing and should go to the final hour to decide whether both sides can come to an agreement or allow Clark to test the market.

AFC North evening links

February, 25, 2010
It was a busy first day at the NFL combine. But here were several additional story lines that went under the radar:

Morning take: Cribbs vs. Hester

October, 29, 2009
Posted by’s James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North:
  • Two of the NFL's best return specialists will meet Sunday when Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears faces off against Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns.
Morning take: With the way both teams performed last week, special teams may be the most exciting part of this matchup.
  • Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth believes the defense will improve Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Morning take: With two weeks to correct some issues, I agree with Foxworth. Expect to see a solid defensive performance from Baltimore in a big game.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who has sickle-cell, has a tough decision to make when the team travels to play Denver in high altitude on Nov. 9.
Morning take: The last time Clark played in Denver he had serious complications and health issues. Football is just a game. Perhaps he should pass.
  • Cincinnati Bengals tight end J.P. Foschi has moved ahead of Daniel Coats for the starting role.
Morning take: I’m not surprised by this move. Coats couldn’t catch the football, and in Cincinnati’s offense that’s not going to fly for very long.

Bengals-Bears halftime observations

October, 25, 2009
Posted by’s James Walker

CINCINNATI—The Bengals lead the Chicago Bears, 31-3, at intermission in a rout at Paul Brown Stadium.

Here are some halftime observations:
  • This is the best half of football that I’ve seen from the Bengals all season. Cincinnati scored points on all five possessions and held the Bears to just three points in the first two quarters. It was a complete performance on both sides of the football for the Bengals.
  • Bengals tailback Cedric Benson looks extremely motivated against his former team. He already has 98 yards on 20 carries. He should be a happy camper after the game if/when Cincinnati holds on to the win.
  • Chicago’s secondary isn’t covering anybody. Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco has eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Tight end J.P. Foschi and receivers Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry also have touchdown catches from the arm of quarterback Carson Palmer, who has 183 yards early and completed 15-of-17 passes.
  • Cincinnati’s pass rush looks better than expected. The team lost starting defensive end and sack leader Antwan Odom (Achilles) this week. But role players like Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene are filling in well and getting some hits on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who threw for 136 yards and an interception.

Bengals tried to make a move

October, 22, 2009
Posted by’s James Walker

There was a mystery team connected to the Dallas Cowboys before Tuesday’s trade deadline, and according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, that team was the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters a team put forth a "significant" offer for one of his players this week that Jones turned down. Mortensen reports the player was Cowboys backup tight end Martellus Bennett and the team was the first-place Bengals (4-2).

It makes sense. Cincinnati has been banged up at tight end as Reggie Kelly (Achilles) and Ben Utecht (concussion) both went down early with season-ending injuries. Daniel Coats, a tight end/fullback hybrid, has struggled catching the ball. The Bengals also have a pair of young, developing tight ends on their roster in J.P. Foschi and Chase Coffman.

Cincinnati rarely makes many splashes in the trade market. But at least the reported attempt this week shows the Bengals are trying to win now and hold onto the AFC North division lead.

Posted by’s James Walker

Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North:
  • Backup tailback Mewelde Moore continues to be a good utility player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Morning take: For someone who gets limited playing time, Moore seems to make a lot of big plays. In the recent win over the San Diego Chargers, Moore threw a touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller in the back of the end zone.
  • Baltimore Ravens rookie Dannell Ellerbe passed the test with six tackles in his NFL debut at linebacker against the New England Patriots.
Morning take: The Ravens have been high on the rookie free agent for quite some time, and when opportunity knocked, Ellerbe was ready.
  • The Buffalo Bills (1-3) are also struggling like the Cleveland Browns (0-4).
Morning take: This is a winnable game for Cleveland, even on the road. The Browns need to continue building off the momentum of last week.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals may have found another receiving threat in tight end J.P. Foschi, who led the team with four catches against Cleveland.
Morning take: I was impressed with Foschi’s hands and ability to get downfield last week. The Bengals are hurting at tight end this season but continue to find players at the position.