AFC North: Jordan Palmer

On Monday we learn the NFL future of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Could he stay in the Buckeye state to join the Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals?

Both were among the reported 17 teams to send representatives to Pryor's workout. That indicates there is some level of interest from the NFL's two Ohio teams.

Earlier this summer, we provided all the reasons why the Browns should take a flier on Pryor. Browns president Mike Holmgren loves taking developmental quarterbacks. Pryor is a raw prospect who could use the tutelage of quarterback gurus Holmgren and head coach Pat Shurmur. If it doesn't work out, the Browns need help at receiver, too. Pryor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds.

The Bengals also need as much talent as possible. They are starting rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who is off to a slow start this preseason. Veteran journeyman Bruce Gradkowski is the backup, but the third quarterback spot is wide open. Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour are both expendable, and Pryor's athletic ceiling is much higher. He also spent time this offseason working with former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson.

It would make sense for both Ohio teams to consider Pryor this afternoon in the supplemental draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals could not get Carson Palmer to return and mentor rookie quarterback Andy Dalton this season. Therefore, the Bengals went to Plan B Wednesday, agreeing to a two-year contract with veteran quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who most recently played for the Oakland Raiders.

Gradkowski has 20 career starts, which could be needed if Dalton falters this season. Dalton, Cincinnati's second-round pick, enters the season as the starting quarterback despite zero NFL experience.

Gradkowski and veteran backup Jim Sorgi were considered the two favorites to take the place of Palmer, who demanded a trade and threatened to retire. Both free agents have a lot of experience, while at the same time won't threatened Dalton's place as the new franchise quarterback.

This week, Gradkowski will join Dalton, Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour as Cincinnati's quarterbacks in training camp.

Morning take: Hines Ward speaks

July, 16, 2011
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Here are the most interesting stories Saturday in the AFC North: Morning take: Ward thanked his fans for their support but didn't elaborate whether he feels he will be cleared of all charges, which is what his rep said last week. Eventually, this all will be handled through the legal system.
Morning take: The Bengals have too many inexperienced quarterbacks already in Andy Dalton, Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour. Adding a fourth quarterback with zero NFL starts wouldn't work in Cincy.
Morning take: The Browns will be looking for several starters at defensive end, safety and possibly on the offensive line. It's imperative that Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert is prepared for various scenarios.
Morning take: Offensive guard Marshal Yanda is the most important name on this list. He could get interest from several teams and could leave a big hole on Baltimore's offensive line.
The AFC North blog concludes its "Hope and Concern" series with the quarterback position of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Biggest reason for hope: a fresh start

Whether rookie second-round pick Andy Dalton turns out to be the long-term solution remains to be seen. But there is no denying the Bengals needed to blow up the team and start over. Dalton and first-round pick A.J. Green usher in a new era in Cincinnati. Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Chad Ochocinco had plenty of time to make a title run but failed to win a single playoff game in eight seasons. With Palmer and Ochocinco both wanting out and heading for retirement and a release, respectively, the path is clear for Dalton to establish himself. The Bengals believe he is the best rookie to fit their new West Coast offense. Dalton certainly will have no shortage of weapons to work with such as Green, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and potentially tailback Cedric Benson, who is a pending free agent.

Biggest reason for concern: inexperience

Assuming Palmer sticks to his word and doesn't return to Cincinnati, the team has virtually no experience at the quarterback position. Dalton, like most young quarterbacks, is certainly due for some growing pains. Backups Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour also combine for zero NFL starts between them, which doesn't leave much insurance in the event Dalton isn't ready. Add in a new system and mostly young skill players, and the Bengals could struggle on offense, especially early in the season. This is a rebuilding year in Cincinnati. So the Bengals are at least two seasons away from being a contender. A lot will depend on how quickly Dalton develops and whether he can solidify the quarterback position in Palmer's absence. Also, look for Cincinnati to try to add a veteran backup to help provide some stability at quarterback.

AFC North links: 'Housh' chasing fresh start

July, 1, 2011
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Baltimore Ravens

Ravens wide receiver Donte' Stallworth: "There’s already been irreparable damage for the season. Look at a guy like Cam Newton. How is he supposed to compete with defenses like Baltimore when they haven’t had the opportunity to prepare? He’s going to get a few weeks and be expected to suit up and play like the No. 1 pick. That’s going to be tough."

T.J. Houshmandzadeh is hoping for a fresh start in 2011 after a bitter end to last season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Dhani Jones says "Jordan Palmer's not the answer" in Cincinnati.

Houshmandzadeh also weighed in on a few of his former teammates in an interview with the National Football Post.

Cleveland Browns

The team on Thursday announced plans for a one-hour radio show that will air weekdays from 6-7 p.m. on ESPN 850 WKNR.

Defensive lineman Travis Ivey has resorted to wearing cloth shoes as part of his rehabilitation process.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Willie Colon's agent isn't optimistic about the offensive tackle returning to Pittsburgh. "They haven't called about Willie in three years," said agent Joe Linta. "I'm not expecting them to call because they haven't yet. That's the way they do business, and that's fine. But if they do call we'll pick up the phone."
Carson Palmer & Mike BrownUS PresswireMike Brown, right, has repeatedly said the Bengals will not grant Carson Palmer's trade request.
Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown says he refuses to trade quarterback Carson Palmer. Brown usually sticks to his edicts. So it would be surprising if the Bengals have a change of heart once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

But that doesn't mean Cincinnati is doing the right thing. In fact, the Bengals are completely mismanaging the situation, and not trading Palmer will go down as another awful decision for this downtrodden franchise, which hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years.

Palmer is serious about his trade demands and appears willing to retire. But even if Palmer returned, having a disgruntled starting quarterback isn't an ideal situation for any team.

Here are seven reasons the Bengals are making a big mistake by not trading Palmer:

1. His value is high

Analysis: Several quarterback-needy teams would love to have Palmer under center this year and would be willing to give up solid value. Cincinnati should be able to get at least a second-round pick and perhaps an additional pick for Palmer, which would help the franchise and is better than having a player sit at home. Palmer is 31 and may have only a few productive years left. So with every passing year Palmer's trade value decreases. The Bengals made this mistake before with receiver Chad Ochocinco. Three years ago, they could have traded Ochocinco to the Washington Redskins for a first-round pick and another conditional pick that could have become a first-rounder based on production. Instead, Brown refused to trade an unhappy Ochocinco and now the team is stuck with an aging receiver and his $6 million salary. Cincinnati is expected to release Ochocinco this summer and get nothing for him. The Bengals are refusing to learn from their mistakes.

2. Why keep an unhappy quarterback?

Analysis: The quarterback position is the most important in football. Do you want a leader whose heart isn't really into it? Only the Bengals would answer yes to this type of question. Despite Palmer being adamant that he wants nothing to do with Cincinnati, ownership and coach Marvin Lewis said they would still welcome Palmer back with open arms. Even Bengals players such as running back Cedric Benson and defensive lineman Tank Johnson said it's a bad idea to have an unhappy Palmer leading the team. Palmer is mentally done with Cincinnati and physically he hasn't put in the work to be with his teammates. If he did choose to return it would cause a media circus and could be bad for team chemistry.

3. It's time to rebuild

Analysis: Last November we said it was time to blow up the Bengals. The Palmer-Ochocinco-Marvin Lewis era ran its course in Cincinnati, and the reality is that window is closed and the trio will never win a Super Bowl together. Currently, all three are still with the organization, although Ochocinco is expected to be released. Cincinnati also should move on without Palmer. The Bengals were a 4-12 team last year with Palmer. Cincinnati is rebuilding with younger players and will not be a contender in 2011, whether Palmer returns or not. Palmer also knows this, which is why he wants out. If Palmer believed the Bengals were good enough to make the playoffs and a run at the Super Bowl, he would not have sold his house and demanded a trade. At this stage of his career, Palmer is not good enough to carry a team to a championship by himself, particularly a young team like the Bengals with a lot of holes. Cincinnati's draft showed it is looking to rebuild. But the Bengals have to cut ties with Palmer to complete the process.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
AP Photo/David KohlThe Bengals drafted TCU quarterback Andy Dalton with the 35th overall pick in April's draft.
4. Bengals drafted Andy Dalton

Analysis: If the Bengals didn't have a viable option at quarterback, I would understand the team's urge to keep Palmer under contract. But in April they spent a high second-round pick on Dalton, who was the Bengals' desired target in the draft to replace Palmer. Cincinnati is no longer stuck between a rock (Jordan Palmer) and a hard place (Dan LeFevour) at quarterback. The Bengals have a confident rookie who could be the long-term solution. Even if Palmer returned, he would be grooming Dalton for the future. So why not start the Dalton era now and get him as much experience as possible?

5. Palmer is on the decline

Analysis: Behind closed doors, the Bengals' organization knows Palmer has been on a steady decline for several years. Injuries, age and perhaps some lost confidence have made Palmer a shell of his former self. In his prime (2005-07), Palmer was the prototypical pocket passer who stood tall in the pocket, made great decisions and had one of the strongest and most accurate arms in the NFL. Now Palmer makes too many poor decisions (20 interceptions in 2010) and has clearly lost some zip and accuracy. Palmer's passer rating has dropped from 101.1 in 2005 to 82.4 in 2010 -- a decline of nearly 20 points. But it's easier for opposing teams to see the good in Palmer, because even on the decline, he's still better than half of the league's starting quarterbacks.

6. Palmer makes $11.5 million this season

Analysis: Palmer, who is under contract until 2014, will make a team-high $11.5 million this season. By trading Palmer, the Bengals would save a ton of money and potentially cap space if there is a salary cap in the new CBA. Cincinnati could allocate that money to help other areas of the team. Perhaps the Bengals can spend some of the $11.5 million to re-sign Benson and free-agent cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Cincinnati also could go after a quality free agent or two to help the pass rush or offensive line. Palmer is no longer an $11.5 million player. Therefore, it's baffling why the Bengals are so eager to pay him that amount.

7. Precedents are overrated

Analysis: A major reason the Bengals won't trade Palmer is because it sets a bad precedent for other unhappy players who might want out in the future. This kind of thinking is overrated and should never get in the way of helping the future of the franchise. If Palmer kicks and screams that he wants out and the Bengals get good value in return, so what? What's wrong with both sides being happy? Instead, Bengals ownership seems more focused on winning the staredown with Palmer, even if it hurts the team in the long run. The best way to prevent unhappy players from leaving is to develop a winning culture. The Bengals' way of doing business for the past 20 years hasn't worked, and it's time to try something different. Instead of holding onto the past, Cincinnati should move forward and do what's best for the long-term success of the franchise and trade Palmer.
Lost in Monday's comments that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown won't trade quarterback Carson Palmer is what Brown also said about his rookie quarterback.

Dalton
Dalton
"[Palmer is] a very fine player, and we do want him to come back. If he chooses not to, he'd retire. And we would go with Andy Dalton," Brown said.

Did Brown spill the beans that Dalton won't have to compete for the starting job this summer? And is this the right message to send to your second-round pick?

By most accounts, everyone (including the AFC North blog) expects Dalton to beat out Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour in training camp. But Brown's comments suggest the Bengals already have their minds made up before Dalton's first NFL practice.

What if Dalton is slow to adjust to the pro game and needs time to develop? What if Dalton struggles mightily in the preseason and someone outperforms him? Is Brown already hedging the team's bets?

Most NFL head coaches prefer players to earn starting jobs instead of handing them out. Therefore, Marvin Lewis might try to come back and deem his quarterback race an "open competition." But ownership may have already set the tone for the team and its players that the job is going to Dalton.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:
  • Several Pittsburgh Steelers veterans reacted to the controversial comments made by teammate Rashard Mendenhall following the death of Osama bin Laden and the events of 9/11.
Morning take: The general consensus is Mendenhall should avoid these controversial topics in his position. Everyone is free to express their opinions. But there's a lot to lose for pro athletes to do it in such a public forum.
Morning take: Throwing deep is not McCoy's game and arm strength is perhaps his biggest weakness. This is another reason why switching to the West Coast offense is a good idea.
Morning take: M&T Bank Stadiums is a very tough place to play, and Ravens fans love cheering their defense. Week 1 will be exciting when the Steelers come to town.
Morning take: Whitworth is one of Cincinnati's best leaders, so I'm not surprised. Quarterback Jordan Palmer also has worked with Bengals receivers this offseason.
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:
  • New Cleveland Browns rookie tight end Jordan Cameron showed off his athleticism in an entertaining video with NBA star Blake Griffin.
Morning take: Basketball has translated well for NFL tight ends, as evident by former hoop stars Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Cameron is raw but it's clear he has some ability.
  • Speaking of Jordans, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jordan Palmer doesn't want to be written off yet. He wants to compete for a starting job with new draft pick Andy Dalton.
Morning take: Credit the enthusiasm, but it's clear the Bengals don’t have a lot of confidence in Jordan Palmer as a starting quarterback. Competition or no competition, the Bengals drafted Dalton to win the job.
  • The Baltimore Sun reports the Ravens will not pursue tampering charges against the Arizona Cardinals for their reported "understanding" with pending free-agent quarterback Marc Bulger.
Morning take: Most tampering cases are difficult to prove, but this is especially true during a lockout. Is it me, or is Baltimore getting hit right now from all different directions?
Morning take: Backup roles are likely, and that's usually how it works in Pittsburgh. But an injury or two could force some of its rookies into starting roles. So they have to stay ready.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday in the AFC North:
  • Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo apologized to the Baltimore Ravens for a trade gaffe that caused Baltimore to miss one spot in the first round of the NFL draft.
Morning take: I thought something was fishy last night when Baltimore missed its pick. The Ravens were trying to trade down to No. 29 and apparently there was a snag on the other end with Chicago. Baltimore ended up with cornerback Jimmy Smith at No. 27.
Morning take: Right now it's quarterbacks Jordan Palmer or Dan LeFevour. But rest assured the Bengals will not leave this week's draft without a quarterback to compete with that pair.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert is happy to keep all of his picks and still land defensive end Cameron Heyward.
Morning take: I think the Steelers got good value in Heyward at No. 31. The Steelers have other needs but stayed true to taking the best available player on their board.
  • The Cleveland Browns were among ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton's Day 1 winners.
Morning take: Cleveland didn't make a splash by trading out at No. 6, but you have to look at the big picture. The Browns now have 18 draft choices in the next two years to help rebuild a thin roster.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. provided his final mock draft Insider with plenty of interesting selections.

Here is how Kiper views Thursday night's NFL draft in the AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals (No. 4)

Kiper's pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Analysis: Everyone knows that I'm against taking receivers this high in the draft. But I do like Green's talent, and I think he could be a good NFL receiver. If the Bengals take Green at No. 4, the next challenge would be finding a quarterback to throw him the football. Unless Cincinnati knows for sure it can land a quality veteran, the team should not leave this draft without a highly rated rookie to compete with Jordan Palmer.

Cleveland Browns (No. 6)

Kiper's pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

Analysis: Kiper pegged Jones to Cleveland in his last two mock drafts, but I have my doubts about this pick. Yes, the Browns need receivers. But this is a reach to take the second-rated player at the position with the No. 6 overall pick. If the Browns cannot trade down, getting help on the defensive line would make more sense here. If Cleveland drafts a receiver at six, it should be Green. Otherwise, the Browns could help their front seven on defense, which is very thin.

Baltimore Ravens (No. 26)

Kiper's pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

Analysis: For months, Kiper had the Ravens drafting a cornerback in this slot but changed his mind at the last minute. I think it's a wise move. Baltimore's biggest needs all along have been at right tackle and getting someone to rush the passer. Ayers can help with the latter. I think there are better pass-rushers available in the first round, but Ayers is both versatile and well-rounded.

Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31)

Kiper's pick: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Analysis: Williams has been a Pittsburgh favorite in mock drafts for quite some time. The Steelers are short on cornerbacks, and Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday he's operating as though none of his free agents will return. That means Colbert is drafting under the assumption top corner Ike Taylor will not re-sign. Top reserve William Gay also is a free agent, leaving Bryant McFadden as the only experienced corner on the roster. Williams would fill Pittsburgh's biggest need.

Morning take: Time to work?

April, 26, 2011
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Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC North:
  • Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark is encouraging teammates to show up for work now that the lockout has been lifted.
Morning take: The lift is expected to be temporary. But players could get quality work at the facilities for the time being. The results from players could be mixed.
  • Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller says he would feel right at home with the Cleveland Browns.
Morning take: Don't expect Miller to be taken at No. 6. Miller could help the Browns' pass rush, but they have bigger needs on offense (receiver) and defense (defensive line).
Morning take: This is a growing trend among quarterbacks during the lockout. Flacco joins Colt McCoy of the Browns and Jordan Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals to do the same within the division.
Morning take: Teams should have a plan but also remain flexible and ready to adjust. The Bengals could have several intriguing options at No. 4 that also may include trade opportunities.
It's the question everyone wants to know in Cincinnati: Who will be under center for the Bengals in Week 1?

At this point, the Bengals are not even sure after franchise quarterback Carson Palmer demanded a trade and threatened to retire. The organization is holding out hope that Palmer will have a change of heart by the time football season comes around in September.

But if Palmer doesn't return, who will take over?

Will it be Palmer's younger bother, Jordan, who has taken a leadership role this offseason by organizing workouts with receivers. Jordan Palmer believes this is a golden opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL for the first time in his career.

Could the Bengals find their long-term solution in this week's NFL draft? They have been linked to just about every top quarterback prospect, including Auburn's Cam Newton, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. This week's draft gives the Bengals their first chance to search for "Carson Palmer insurance."

Or will it be an outside veteran such as Vince Young or Kevin Kolb? If the Bengals do not find any alternatives in the draft, they would have to explore the trade market or free agency.

Using our SportsNation poll, let us know who you believe will quarterback the Bengals next season and share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Count Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy among the growing list of players independently training with their wide receivers during the NFL lockout.

The second-year veteran has rallied several Cleveland receivers -- including Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs -- to work out with him in Austin, Texas. Massquoi confirmed the plans on his Twitter account.

In a pre-draft meeting with the media on Thursday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert said he didn't know his players were organizing workouts until his public relations staff informed him Thursday morning. During the lockout, players cannot be in contact with their teams.

But Heckert said he's happy players are taking the initiative.

"I think it's great. ... I think it's probably more publicized now than in past seasons," Heckert said. "If they do it, great. But if they don't, I don’t think it's a big deal. We will be ready when they come back."

McCoy isn't the first quarterback to do this. Reportedly Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and Jordan Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals have also organized workouts with teammates.

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