AFC North: Kendall Langford

AFC North morning roundup

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
8:00
AM ET
A look at what's happening around the AFC North:

BENGALS: The team has yet to sign anyone after seven visits with players: Defensive linemen Kendall Langford (Dolphins), Andre Fluellen (Lions) and Jamaal Anderson (Colts); guard Jacob Bell (Rams); cornerbacks Aaron Ross (Giants), Tracy Porter (Saints) and Jason Allen (Texans). According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the visits with Ross and Langford "went well," but both left without contracts. Langford is visiting the Rams and Ross is meeting with the Redskins. ... The Bengals have lost four players in free agency including both starting guards from last season (Nate Livings went to Dallas and Mike McGlynn joined Indianapolis). ... Safety Reggie Nelson is visiting the New York Jets. Hensley's slant: The Bengals will inevitably sign a defensive lineman and a cornerback, but they should put equal importance in upgrading at least one of the two open guard spots.

BROWNS: The Browns aren't interested in a reunion with former first-round pick Kamerion Wimbley, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Raiders cut Wimbley to avoid guaranteeing him $17.5 million over the next three seasons. ... The Browns officially announced the re-signing of cornerback Dimitri Patterson.“Dimitri came in last year and was an important part of our defense,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said in a statement. “He helped solidify our defensive backfield and we are happy to have him back with the Browns.” Hensley's slant: With Mario Williams off the free-agent market, Wimbley is the most sought-after edge rusher and should draw heavy interest. Even if the Browns wanted to bring him back, the cost of doing so would be out of the team's current price range.

RAVENS: Free-agent guard Evan Mathis was offered a contract from the Ravens yesterday, but he decided to return to his Arizona home to think over the deal. He's been linked to the Colts and Redskins, but the Carroll County (Md.) Times indicates his choices are joining the Ravens or re-signing with the Eagles. “I think the Ravens are a good fit,” Mathis said. “I had a good visit.” ... There's some confusion over whether backup safety Tom Zbikowski has reached an agreement with the Colts. Zbikowski's agent disputed reports that the deal is done after Zbikowski announced that he's going to Indianapolis. ... Joe Flacco's agent and the Ravens met for a second time as the sides work toward an extension for the quarterback, who is heading into the final year of his contract. "It’s very clear that they want him there for a long time, and he wants him to be there for a long time," agent Joe Linta told the Baltimore Sun. "There’s just a lot of stuff to consider as you move forward.” Hensley's slant: The fact that Mathis left without signing a contract makes you think that he is giving the Eagles an opportunity to make a counteroffer. I wouldn't rule out Mathis signing with the Ravens, but Baltimore's chances looked better before he left town.

STEELERS: CBSSports.com's Clark Judge writes that the Steelers aren't in the clear yet even though no team has pursued restricted free agent Mike Wallace. The deadline to extend offer sheets to restricted free agents is April 20, so there's no rush for a team to go after the speedy wide receiver. Hensley's slant: I still feel the odds are very strong that the Steelers will keep Wallace this season. The Steelers don't have a history of re-signing wide receivers in free agency, but the team seems committed to Wallace based on what Steelers officials have said.
Here are some AFC North evening notes:

Eagles free-agent guard Evan Mathis left the Ravens facility without a contract but he did have dinner plans. He will sit down with general manager Ozzie Newsome tonight and remain in Baltimore tomorrow.

That looks like a positive sign for the Ravens, who are looking for an immediate replacement for Ben Grubbs (who signed today with the New Orleans Saints).


"I think it's a good fit," Mathis told the Carroll County (Md.) Times. "We had a good meeting."

Asked if a deal is imminent, Mathis said: "We're not at that point yet."

BENGALS: Starting safety Reggie Nelson, the top Bengals' free agent, is scheduled to visit the New York Jets tomorrow. ... The Bengals have three players in for visits: New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter, Miami defensive lineman Kendall Langford and New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. Porter likely has the edge over Ross because he's only 25, four years younger than Ross. Langford is scheduled to leave for a visit with the Rams tomorrow if he doesn't have a contract.

BROWNS: Free-agent safety Mike Adams, 30, agreed on a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos. Usama Young and Eric Hagg could battle for the job, or the Browns could move cornerback Sheldon Brown to safety after the team re-signed Dimitri Patterson. ... Cleveland reached a one-year, $3 million deal with 12-year defensive lineman Juqua Parker, the NFL Network first reported. Parker will serve as the top backup, which likely will lead to the release of former starter Jayme Mitchell. ... The Browns announced they re-signed backup offensive lineman Oniel Cousins.

The Bengals missed out on the top two guards in the free-agent market and aren't in pursuit of the third-best one (former Bengals guard Evan Mathis). They sat out the early run on wide receivers. And they watched one of the their free-agent priorities go to a division rival when defensive end Frostee Rucker signed with the Cleveland Browns.

But it's too early to make brash judgments because the Bengals can make up ground with their upcoming free-agent visits. That is, if they can get their targeted players to the city of Cincinnati.

Dolphins free-agent defensive lineman Kendall Langford posted on Twitter that his flight got diverted to Lexington, Ky., because of storms in Cincinnati. Not sure if this is a bad sign, but this is certainly not a good one. The Bengals are among several teams interested in Langford, a four-year starter for the Dolphins, so they better make sure his flight doesn't get re-routed to another NFL city. Langford is scheduled to visit the St. Louis Rams next, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

The second day of free agency was more active for the AFC North, although the division found itself on the losing side of the ledger.

Five key players -- Browns running back Peyton Hillis and four defensive players -- ended up signing with other teams Wednesday. That's in addition to the Browns releasing starting left guard Eric Steinbach. The only addition to the division wasn't really an addition, as defensive end Frostee Rucker went from the Bengals to the Browns in what will prove to be an important but underrated move.

Most of these losses were expected. The parting of the ways with Hillis was projected during his tumultuous 2011 season. The Ravens knew it was going to be a challenge to keep linebacker Jarret Johnson and defensive end Cory Redding, two dependable starters in Baltimore's front seven. The only mild surprise was seeing Rucker and defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene (who signed with the Patriots) go elsewhere when both were considered among the Bengals' top priorities.

Let's see what Day 3 brings to the AFC North. There has to be some free-agent signings at some point, right?

BENGALS: The Bengals believe they lost Rucker to the Browns and Fanene to the Patriots because those teams could offer more playing time. According to the team's official website, Rucker played about 45 percent of the Bengals' defensive snaps, mainly on running downs, while Fanene participated in 45 percent of the snaps, primarily as a pass-rusher. Rucker played in every game for the first time in his six seasons with the Bengals and led team in tackles for loss (11). Fanene recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks and was third in quarterback pressures with 13. "Frostee and Jon have had productive careers here and have been great teammates, and their contributions in our line rotation have made them attractive to other clubs," coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement, via the team's official website. "They both seem to have the opportunity to play a larger role with their new clubs, and we understand that. We wish them well and we look forward to being able to replace their snaps with the depth we have and with players we may acquire through the draft or free agency."... Dolphins defensive lineman Kendall Langford, 26, a third-round pick in 2008, is visiting the Bengals this week, and it's believed they have visits set up with at least two other linemen, according to the team's official website ... Nate Livings, the Bengals' starting left guard for the past two seasons, is scheduled to visit the Cowboys today, according to ESPNDallas.com.

BROWNS: Even though Hillis said he would take a hometown discount to remain with the Browns, the running back signed with the Kansas City Chiefs without receiving an offer from Cleveland, a league source told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Browns spoke with Hillis' agent before he agreed with the Chiefs, but no proposal was made. Hillis posted on Twitter: "Appreciate all my fans in Cleveland for the support given to me in my time there. Can't wait to get back on the field and go to work in K.C." ... The Browns agreed to terms with Rucker, and the team is expected to make an official announcement when he signs today. ... The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto believes the Browns should use the $10 million in cap savings from cutting Steinbach and offensive tackle Tony Pashos to sign an impact right tackle like Eric Winston, Levi Brown or Demetrius Bell. ... The Plain Dealer's Bud Shaw says the patience of the Browns' front office leaves fans forever awaiting next year. "Let's put it this way. If things don't work out for the regime in Berea, we can probably scratch certain occupations from [Mike] Holmgren's and [Tom] Heckert's next job search," Shaw wrote.

RAVENS: While Redding followed former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to Indianapolis, Jarret Johnson joined Pagano's brother John, who is the defensive coordinator with the Chargers. “That’s part of what made it so easy,” Johnson said in a statement released by the Chargers. “Chuck and I have been tight ever since he got there. I met John before one of the games a couple years ago and he’s what made this decision so easy. I knew him, I knew about him, I know the kind of guy his brother is, so he’s definitely the type of coach you want to play for." ... The Ravens will meet with Eagles guard Evan Mathis today while left guard Ben Grubbs continues to test the free-agent market. Baltimore has also scheduled a visit with former Texans right tackle Eric Winston sometime this week. Winston, who was in Miami Wednesday, will come to Baltimore after traveling to Kansas City and St. Louis. "I want to win right now," Winston told the Carroll County (Md.) Times. "That's what's important to me. That's the kind of team I'm looking for." If the Ravens signed Winston, they would likely release Bryant McKinnie and move Michael Oher from right to left tackle. ... Backup safety and special teams standout Haruki Nakamura is making his first free-agent visit, traveling to meet the Carolina Panthers, according to the Carroll County Times.

STEELERS: Pittsburgh still sits about $1.5 million under the cap, which means there won't be much activity until the NFL draft. That's 42 days away, if you're counting. ... Steelers free-agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said two teams have expressed interest in him, but he declined to name them other than to say the Steelers want him back. The Jets have shown interest, according to the New York Daily News. "Yeah, I'm open to it," Cotchery told ESPNNewYork.com on a possible return to New York, where he played for the Jets for seven seasons. "I'm open to all possibilities. I don't close doors. I'm not that type of dude."

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