AFC North: Robert Geathers

CINCINNATI -- Brace yourselves, Cincinnati Bengals fans. As the hours start flying by between now and the start of free agency Tuesday afternoon, it is beginning to look more and more as though losing Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson will be a real possibility.

Collins, the backup offensive tackle who has starter's potential, and Johnson, the formerly franchise-tagged defensive end who is entering free agency with him, are likely too expensive for the Bengals to keep. Reports have already indicated that Collins could command between $6-7.5 million per year from the teams that have courted him during this soon-to-expire three-day legal tampering period.

[+] EnlargeCollins
Mark Zerof/USA TODAY SportsThe Bengals are well positioned to absorb the loss of Anthony Collins.
Johnson could be looking at slightly better numbers that the Bengals just won't be able to match.

In the event they sign elsewhere, where would that leave the Bengals? Would all hope be lost for the franchise that exhausted as much time and effort as it could at re-signing the pair? Not at all.

Truthfully, the Bengals are in the envious situation of bringing back a roster that is full of veterans. Even their young players have had significant playing time across the past three seasons. Because the overall depth on the team is solid, particularly at Collins' and Johnson's positions, the Bengals ought to have very little to worry about if they aren't able to re-sign either player.

Let's focus on offensive tackle first.

If they are able to re-sign Collins, the Bengals are setting themselves up for a rather tenuous situation on the left side of their offensive line, one that Collins may not want to go through another couple of seasons, let alone one more.

With Collins back in the rotation at left tackle, the Bengals will have to decide whether they will allow him to start permanently or continue to have him come off the bench as needed. Although he only started seven games last season, Collins still was used quite extensively as a backup to Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Andre Smith. If Collins returns and the Bengals start him, it would mean Cincinnati was moving Whitworth from left tackle to left guard, forcing previous starting left guard Clint Boling to the bench. Boling started 12 games last season until an ACL injury early in the Week 13 game at San Diego ended his season. To replace him, the Bengals moved over Whitworth and started Collins.

From a financial standpoint, the only way Collins would return to Cincinnati is if the Bengals could match an offer that would pay him close to $6 million a year. That's a lot of money to pay him to ride the bench again, so team officials would have to think long and hard about how much they wanted to shake up the lineup with his return. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad decision to have.

The reasons for such free-agency frugality are many. Among them include the team's hopes of re-signing each of its three tendered restricted free agents, keeping several of its other less pricy unrestricted free agents, making pushes to extend quarterback Andy Dalton, receiver A.J. Green and linebacker Vontaze Burfict a year early, and just trying to balance the books. Even with a salary cap that's about $7 million more than expected, so much of the nearly $30 million the Bengals have in cap space will be eaten by other budgetary obligations before some $15 million miraculously appears for Collins and Johnson to get paid.

Speaking of Johnson, a logjam similar to what Collins could be facing might be staring at Johnson and his fellow defensive ends if he re-signs.

After placing the franchise tag on Johnson last March, the Bengals re-signed defensive ends Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry and drafted Margus Hunt in hopes of building up their depth and talent at the right end spot. Their thinking last offseason was to simply get the position group ready in the event they were unable to re-sign Johnson this offseason. Geathers' season-ending elbow injury in Week 2 helped the Bengals avoid any playing-time issues at the position last season.

Coupled with an expected healthy Geno Atkins at defensive tackle and Carlos Dunlap at defensive end, the rotation of Geathers, Gilberry and Hunt should give the Bengals a measure of freshness and relief at Johnson's old spot.

Life in Cincinnati without Collins and Johnson also could include draft picks in May as the Bengals start looking even further into their future for replacements for veterans like Whitworth, Geathers and Gilberry. With draft picks coming and what Cincinnati already has in place, it's a future that's not as dark and morbid as many might want to believe.

Yes, Collins and Johnson were the big metaphorical fish they had hoped to land once again.

But get ready, Bengals fans, because you may soon have no choice but watch your organization adapt to life without them.

Countdown to combine: Bengals DL

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
8:00
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With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, we're taking a look at positions of need and who the Cincinnati Bengals might be looking at during the combine at those positions.

Position of need: Defensive line

As we mentioned in Monday's look at the Bengals' pre-combine situation at running back and Tuesday's pre-combine look at the offensive line, there really aren't many pressing needs for the team this offseason. It's even a bit of a stretch to say that the Bengals need help on the defensive line, but depending on what happens with unrestricted free agent Michael Johnson starting next month, they may be in the market for at least one defensive end when the draft rolls around in early May. Johnson, as you're probably well aware, is coming off a year as the team's franchise player and stands to command big bucks from any number of teams when free agency begins March 11. The Bengals would like to retain the player who was one of their third-round draft picks in 2009, but it seems quite unlikely that they'll be able to afford keeping him. Even though Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers and Margus Hunt are expected to fill Johnson's spot in the event he does leave, the Bengals still may want to look for defensive end help with Geathers getting up in age -- he'll turn 31 during training camp while coming off a major injury. With a shortage of ends in the draft who would meet the Bengals' specifications for the right end spot, the team has greater incentive to retain Johnson and hope for a healthy and productive Geathers in August.

Three players the Bengals might be targeting (all three are expected to attend the combine)

Scott Crichton (DE), Oregon State: Currently projected as a second-rounder, Crichton may not be available when the Bengals are ready to make a pick for him late in that round. Some early projections had him sneaking into the first round. With a strong showing at the combine, that's not out of the realm of possibility, either. Whether he's around for the Bengals or not, he seems like the type of lineman who would catch their attention. At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, he's shorter and lighter than the type of ends whom the Bengals like to sign, but he has a measure of versatility that could help him. He's built primarily for playing the edge rushing position, but he did play on occasion on his line's interior in college. Last season, Hunt and Gilberry were forced into a few snaps at defensive tackle following the loss of Geno Atkins halfway through the season.

Kareem Martin (DE), North Carolina: From a build standpoint, Martin looks the part of a Bengals defensive end. He's 6-foot-6 and weighs 272 pounds, just a shade smaller than current Cincinnati pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap. The current Bengals lineman has Martin by about 8 pounds. Last season, Martin had 11.0 sacks for the Tar Heels. In addition to finishing sacks, he's noted for his ability to disrupt passes at the line of scrimmage with his long arms. That's something that Johnson has done well, and it's a trait Bengals coaches emphasize with their linemen. Martin comes to Indianapolis with a third-round projection by many.

Taylor Hart (DE), Oregon: From a Bengals standpoint, the only apparent knock on Hart is that his combination of size (6-6, 286 pounds) and first-step attack makes him probably more suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Cincinnati, of course, boasts a 4-3 package, which doesn't require quite as much weight from its edge-rushing spots. But with a late-round projection, Hart could end up making some team feel like it's walking away with a steal. One look at his player card on ESPN's Insiders page and it's clear he possesses some of the intangibles and skills that would impress any coach. It's doubtful he ends up donning the stripes, but he might be one to watch anyway.
CINCINNATI -- J.K. Schaffer's time away from the Bengals lasted barely a day. The Cincinnati native and former University of Cincinnati standout was re-signed to the team after clearing waivers Thursday afternoon and was added back to the practice squad.

The linebacker, who led the team with 20 tackles during the preseason and became an instant fan favorite, was waived Wednesday as part of a series of roster moves that also included placing defensive end Robert Geathers on injured reserve and re-signing safety Jeromy Miles to the 53-man roster.

Like Schaffer, Miles also had been released this week. He was waived hours before Monday night's game against Pittsburgh. With Miles off the roster, a space opened for Schaffer to be moved from the practice squad. Until that point, Schaffer had been on the practice squad since the start of the regular season. Used specifically on special teams, Schaffer played in Monday's 20-10 win over the Steelers.

Schaffer is an undrafted player who officially began his professional career last season on Jacksonville's practice squad. He was signed by the Bengals in the offseason, and made it to the end of training camp before being left just off the 53-man roster.
CINCINNATI -- The Year of the Rookie appears set to continue in Cincinnati this weekend when Bengals first-year defensive end Margus Hunt finally gets an opportunity to play in front of a regular-season Paul Brown Stadium crowd.

Hunt
Hunt
After patiently waiting his turn the past two weeks, the second-round pick out of SMU might be getting ready to bounce off the Bengals' inactives list and into a pregame two-deep depth chart for the first time in his young career. As defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer put it this week: "the redshirt may be over."

Redshirting, of course, does not actually exist in the NFL. But the two-week acclimation period the Bengals just put Hunt through was the closest thing to their version of it. With 10-year veteran end Robert Geathers now done for the season with an elbow injury suffered in Monday night's win against Pittsburgh, Hunt has become the "next man up" coaches so regularly bring into their lexicon.

"I'm ready to go," Hunt said Thursday. "I mean, I've been ready to play."

Specifically, Hunt, from Estonia, has been ready to get on the field since the last week of the preseason when he was finally beginning to understand the nuances of playing his position at the professional level.

"During the preseason, I got better every game and during the Indianapolis game, I was pretty good playing the run and pass," Hunt said. "I played a lot during that game. I can help out this team. I feel comfortable with the plays we have in, and now it's just a matter of being out there and playing."

Hunt's teammates agree, and have been encouraged by his progress even in such limited time.

"He's getting better. That's what we do," defensive end Wallace Gilberry said. "If it's on scout team or on defense, we get better. He's plugging in and making the transition. If his number's called, I'm sure he's going to be there to answer the bell."

Gilberry might have his own bell to answer this week. With Geathers' departure from the rotation, the Bengals likely will be looking for him to cycle in even more in the back end of the depth chart. While starters Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap will be receiving the bulk of the snaps at the end positions, respectively, Gilberry and Hunt anticipate being in the mix behind them.

Both said they feel comfortable playing either end position, although Hunt said he felt better lining up on the left side like he did most of his college career.

Perhaps the most difficult adjustment Hunt has had to make comes in understanding the role of the tight end in an NFL offense. While playing at SMU, Hunt saw very few Conference USA teams that featured tight ends. He mostly was playing spread style teams that employed a single tailback and a slew of shifty receivers. He didn't have to worry much about coverage. His primary objective was to get in the backfield and be a disruptive force in the passing game.

"We rarely saw a tight end," Hunt said. "Here you have two tight ends, two running backs and you have to sort through the personnel groups. It's a different scouting report, and it took me a bit of time to sort through what to look at and get a better feel of what the offense is doing."
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at whether each AFC North team has been a winner or a loser in free agency.

Baltimore Ravens: Losers. No debate here. The Super Bowl champions have been among the biggest losers in free agency. The Ravens have parted ways with seven starters (including five on defense), and free agency is only 11 days old. Baltimore also lost a chunk of its history when linebacker Ray Lewis retired and safety Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans in free agency. Both players were past their prime, but their departures create a major leadership void. The losses that will hurt the Ravens the most are wide receiver Anquan Boldin (traded to San Francisco) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (signed with Miami). The Ravens don't have the depth at either position to replace them. The only additions have been defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, both of whom will improve the run defense.

Cincinnati Bengals: Winners. You can't really call the Bengals "losers" because they've only lost one starter from last season's playoff team, and Cincinnati wasn't interested in bringing back outside linebacker Manny Lawson (signed with Buffalo). The biggest criticism is the Bengals haven't been aggressive in free agency. Cincinnati is one of three teams that haven't signed a free agent from another team this offseason. The Bengals have been active in keeping their team intact, re-signing nine of their own free agents. That list includes three starters (linebacker Rey Maualuga and defensive ends Michael Johnson and Robert Geathers), kicker Mike Nugent and punter Kevin Huber. The Bengals will feel more like winners if they can retain their top priority, offensive tackle Andre Smith. With about $30 million in salary-cap room remaining, Cincinnati is looking to bring back cornerback Terence Newman and extend the contract of defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The Bengals also need to address voids at strong safety and outside linebacker.

Cleveland Browns: Winners. This is a close call. The Browns improved their front seven by signing linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and added to the pass rush by bringing in linebacker Quentin Groves. Cleveland overpaid for Kruger ($20 million guaranteed for someone who has 15.5 career sacks), but the Browns get the sacks leader from the Super Bowl champions who is entering the prime of his career. The best signing was Bryant, an under-the-radar free agent who can become a game-changer up front in the Browns' new 3-4 defense. The excitement over these additions is tempered by the fact that the Browns said goodbye to two longtime franchise fixtures in kicker Phil Dawson (signed with San Francisco) and receiver-returner Josh Cribbs (expected to sign with Arizona). The Browns can come out of free agency looking much better if they can land Falcons free agent Brent Grimes, the top cornerback remaining on the market.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Losers. This is no surprise. The Steelers' salary-cap restraints have meant a significant amount of losses and few additions in free agency over recent years. This offseason, the Steelers cut their top pass-rusher (aging James Harrison) after he refused to take a pay cut, watched their best deep threat (Mike Wallace) get $30 million guaranteed from the Miami Dolphins, chose not to outbid the New Orleans Saints for their young rising cornerback (Keenan Lewis) and declined to re-sign a former first-round pick (running back Rashard Mendenhall). There will also be changes along the offensive and defensive lines. Pittsburgh released guard Willie Colon and aren't expected to re-sign offensive tackle Max Starks and nose tackle Casey Hampton. The Steelers added depth with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, cornerback William Gay and wide receiver Plaxico Burress. But Pittsburgh has to cross its fingers that New England won't sign wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet.
The Cincinnati Bengals have the most salary-cap room in the NFL right now at $31.1 million. They are one of three teams who haven't signed a free agent from another team this offseason.

Why are the Bengals not being more active? The Bengals would argue they have been.

[+] EnlargeCincinnati's Marvin Lewis
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports"Everyone wants you to go out and sign someone else's player," Marvin Lewis said. "How many guys have made an impact in their first year of signing?"
Before re-signing cornerback Adam Jones on Thursday morning, Cincinnati had used $26.1 million of its cap room this year to retain eight of its own unrestricted free agents: defensive end Michael Johnson ($11.1 million cap number under franchise tag), defensive end Robert Geathers ($3.2 million cap number in 2013), punter Kevin Huber ($2.7 million), linebacker Rey Maualuga ($2.6 million), defensive end Wallace Gilberry ($2.5 million), kicker Mike Nugent ($1.6 million), long snapper Clark Harris ($1.3 million) and running back Cedric Peerman ($1.1 million). Plus, the Bengals put a $1.3 million tender on safety Jeromy Miles, a restricted free agent.

The Bengals are still looking to re-sign offensive tackle Andre Smith as well as cornerback Terence Newman. The team also can use the cap room to extend the contract of two Pro Bowl players, wide receiver A.J. Green (free agent in 2015) and defensive tackle Geno Atkins (free agent in 2014).

“Everyone wants you to go out and sign someone else’s player. How many guys have made an impact in their first year of signing?" Lewis said at the NFL owners meetings. "We are better served to continue with our guys and are not sitting there with a particular huge void and go forward with our players and keep getting them better as much as we can. Literally, had the timeline on some of these things gone different, we would have been able to do other things."

Lewis added, "The one thing that happens a little bit is waived guys fell into place right away. Secondly, one particularly big deal that isn’t quite done yet gets other deals gummed up. Then what the fans should understand is you have a second wave of guys that need to get done prior to the completion of this season or you are going to go through the same situation again, so hopefully these all fit.”

The biggest additions for the Bengals will come in the draft. Lewis thinks the team can pick up "three, likely four starting-caliber players" early in the draft.

The Bengals have three of the first 54 picks in the draft because of an extra second-rounder as a result of the Carson Palmer trade with the Raiders. With the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers losing more veterans, this is a prime opportunity for the Bengals to win their first division title since 2009.
Here are some details for free-agent contracts involving AFC North teams ...

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Chris Canty, defensive lineman: Three years for a maximum total of $8 million. It includes a $2 million signing bonus and a $500,000 roster bonus if he's on the team on the fourth day of the 2014 league year.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Robert Geathers, defensive end: Three years for max value of $9 million. This includes a $1.25 million bonus. He can gain up to $150,000 in incentives each year.

Wallace Gilberry, defensive end: Three years for max value of $6.3 million. This includes a $1.25 million bonus.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Paul Kruger, linebacker: Five years for max value of $40.5 million. This includes a $6 million signing bonus. His 2014 base salary ($7 million) is guaranteed.

Desmond Bryant, defensive line: Five years for a max value of $34 million. This includes a $5 million signing bonus. His 2014 base salary ($3 million) is guaranteed for injury.

Quentin Groves, linebacker: Two years for max value of $2.4 million. This included a $500,000 bonus. He can gain up to $500,000 in incentives each year.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Larry Foote, linebacker: Three years for max value of $5.5 million. This included a $1 million signing bonus.
The Cincinnati Bengals continue to keep their players from reaching free agency. The latest is defensive end Robert Geathers, who re-signed with the Bengals, according to the team's official website.

Geathers is the fifth Bengals player to sign before the start of free agency, joining punter Kevin Huber, long snapper Clark Harris, kicker Mike Nugent and defensive end Wallace Gilberry.

As Geoff Hobson from the team's website points out, Geathers is entering his 10th season in Cincinnati, which allows him to join an exclusive club. Only two other defensive linemen, end Eddie Edwards and nose tackle Tim Krumrie, have played a decade with the Bengals.

Geathers, 29, is the longest-tenured Bengal on the roster. He is a two-time team leader in sacks and is one of eight Bengals to have 10 or more sacks in a season.

Last season, he finished with three sacks and was fourth on the team with 18 quarterback pressures. He is a key member of the left end rotation with Carlos Dunlap.
Hope everyone is enjoying the final days of 2012 and the last days of the regular season. Like most Fridays, the predictions post will be on the blog around noon and the Final Word will get posted at 1:30 p.m. The theme for today's wake-up call is uncertain future ...

RAVENS: Ravens safety Ed Reed, who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, said he is unconcerned about his uncertain future. "My focus is finishing the season off right now and prepare for the playoffs and go from there as far as my future," Reed said, via The Baltimore Sun. "It's all about the near future. It's not about the offseason or anything like that." No one knows how the Ravens will handle this situation. It could be difficult to commit a big contract to an aging playmaker like Reed who is dealing with a nerve impingement in his neck and has contemplated retirement in past offseasons.

BENGALS: Defensive end Robert Geathers, the longest-tenured player on the Bengals roster who was originally drafted by the team, said the possibility that this could be his final game in Cincinnati is in the back of his mind. This is the final year of his contract. “We’ll handle that when it gets there,” Geathers said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “With what we’ve got going on, I’d love to be back. I would.” With the emergence of Carlos Dunlap, I'm not sure if Geathers is a free-agent priority for the Bengals.

STEELERS: Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau doesn't plan to retire even though he'll 76 at the start of next season. “That would be up to Coach (Mike) Tomlin. Let‘s just say I really like Pittsburgh and I really like working for the Steelers,” LeBeau said, via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Coach Tomlin will tell you if he wants me back or not. It will be up to Mike.” Why wouldn't Tomlin want LeBeau back? The Steelers have ranked in the top five in defense the past six seasons, including No. 1 for the past two.

BROWNS: If the Browns want to keep Phil Dawson, they're going to have to sign the Pro Bowl kicker to a multi-year deal. There's little chance of putting the franchise tag on him for a third straight year because it would cost $14.6 million. “I know moving forward, whatever term I sign, I’m going to be able to outlive it,” Dawson said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m not going to be one of these guys who holds on and holds on and holds on. So as long as I feel like I can play at a high level, I’m going to. With my family in Texas and me here or wherever, I’m not going to be away from them to play poorly.”
Leon Hall, the Cincinnati Bengals' top cornerback, is inactive for today's game at the Washington Redskins with a calf injury. He was listed as questionable.

Hall will be replaced by Terence Newman, the former Cowboys defensive back who has nine career interceptions against the Redskins.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati's best edge pass rusher, is active but won't start. Robert Geathers will start in place of Dunlap, who missed the first two games with a knee injury.

While the Bengals will be without Hall, the Redskins will also not have wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who is inactive. Leonard Hankerson will start in place of Garcon.

Here's the full inactive report:

Bengals: CB Leon Hall, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, DT Brandon Thompson, WR Marvin Jones, TE Donald Lee, WR Ryan Whalen and TE Richard Quinn.

Redskins: WR Pierre Garcon, QB Rex Grossman, S Brandon Meriweather, S Jordan Pugh, G Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis and DE Doug Worthington.
The countdown to the regular season has started in full force. You know how I know that? ESPN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 1 will be released later today. I'm happy to say that I am among the voters in this year's rankings. That doesn't mean I will forget my other duties, like starting each day with your AFC North Wake-up Call ...

BENGALS: According to the Bengals' official website, it looks as if Robert Geathers, and not Carlos Dunlap, will start at defensive end on Monday night when the Bengals play at the Ravens. That's a big break for the Ravens. Dunlap, who was the best defensive player I watched in training camp this year, remains sidelined with a knee injury. Geathers appears ready to go now after being out since his arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 2. "If last week were a regular-season week, Robert would have played and practiced, but it wasn’t," coach Marvin Lewis said.

BROWNS: Team president Mike Holmgren hopes to finish out his contract, which expires after the 2014 season. "I've never quit anything in my life," he said. Change at president, however, seems inevitable. New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who will take control of the Browns after a league vote in October, will want to put his own person in charge whether it's Joe Banner or someone else. Randy Lerner needed a spokesman for the franchise. Haslam presumably won't. In other news, running back Trent Richardson was back practicing Monday in preparation for the season opener against the Eagles. "If he's ready to go, he will be our starter," Shurmur said. Richardson might start, but the Browns won't give him a full workload.

RAVENS: Physical safety Bernard Pollard has a message for Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. "When we see receivers coming across the middle, and we're in the right defense, we're going to smack you," Pollard said, via CBS Sports. The Ravens shouldn't worry about Green coming across the middle. They should be more concerned about Green running past them down the field. His 11 catches of 35 yards or more were the most in the league last year and the most by an NFL rookie since Minnesota’s Randy Moss had 14 in 1998.

STEELERS: Mike Wallace went over the playbook with wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery on Friday and Saturday, and it showed Monday. In his first practice with the team in nearly eight months, Wallace impressed at least one person with how he did in Todd Haley's new offense. "I surprised myself by how good I did as far as the plays," Wallace told the Steelers' official website. "I have been studying it. I have a good grasp of it. It’s just running the plays off of it. I am getting there. I like where I am at." What helps Wallace is that he is dealing with a new playbook, not a new quarterback. That's a bigger adjustment for a wide receiver.

AFC North's $5 million-plus club

September, 3, 2012
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Ever wonder who gets paid the most in the AFC North? Well, Labor Day is your lucky day. Let's take a look at the players who average more than $5 million per season over the life of their contract. That includes salary, signing bonus, workout bonuses, etc.

The AFC North team with the most members in the $5 million-plus club is the Steelers with nine. The Bengals have the fewest with six. Only one quarterback in the division, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, is at this level. Baltimore's Joe Flacco, who averages $4.76 million, will move up in 2013 whether it's with a new contract or the franchise tag.

Here's a look at the highest-paid players in the AFC North (average per season over life of contract):

BENGALS

CB Leon Hall: $9.7 million

LT Andrew Whitworth: $6 million

DT Domata Peko: $5.5 million

CB Nate Clements: $5.2

DE Robert Geathers: $5.1

RT Andre Smith: $5.1 million

BROWNS

LT Joe Thomas: $11.5 million

DT Ahtyba Rubin: $8.83 million

CB Joe Haden: $8 million

LB D'Qwell Jackson: $7.7 million

LB Chris Gocong: $5.6 million

CB Dimitri Patterson: $5.35 million

RB Trent Richardson: $5.1 million

RAVENS

DT Haloti Ngata: $12.2 million

LB Terrell Suggs: $10.4 million

WR Anquan Boldin: $8.3 million

CB Lardarius Webb: $8.3 million

RB Ray Rice: $7 million

OT Marshal Yanda: $6.4 million

LB Ray Lewis: $6.3 million

S Ed Reed: $6.3 million

STEELERS

QB Ben Roethlisberger: $14.6 million

LB LaMarr Woodley: $10.2 million

S Troy Polamalu: $9.8 million

LB Lawrence Timmons: $9.5 million

LB James Harrison: $8.7 million

WR Antonio Brown: $8.3 million

CB Ike Taylor: $7 million

TE Heath Miller: $6.7 million

G Willie Colon: $5.8 million
The bad news continues for the Cincinnati Bengals. A day after learning left guard Travelle Wharton is lost for the season, the Bengals found out that they could be without defensive end Carlos Dunlap for the season opener at the Ravens on "Monday Night Football."

Dunlap is expected to be sidelined four weeks with a sprained right knee, coach Marvin Lewis told reporters. He injured the knee in the first quarter of Friday's preseason opener against the Jets. Under this timetable, Dunlap is in jeopardy of missing the Sept. 9 opener in Baltimore.

“It’s just a matter of how Carlos’ body comes around," Lewis said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He’s been two days of the new, diligent Carlos Dunlap. He’s aiming to be ready, to prove that he’s ready to go. He’s in a race.”

Dunlap is the Bengals' best edge rusher and he was focused on being an every-down player this year. Injuries have always limited his impact, and that appears to be the case for time being.

The Bengals moved Dunlap into the starting spot at left end because five-year starter Robert Geathers was out with a knee injury. That means Jamaal Anderson, a 2007 first-round draft pick by the Falcons, will start Thursday's preseason game at Atlanta.

Dunlap was having an impressive training camp and was recently ranked No. 14 on the AFC North's list of top 25 players for this season.

“I mean you can do all you want to prepare and prevent injuries but you can’t prevent all of them," Dunlap said. "I feel like I am fully prepared for the ones I can’t control but it is still the game of football. There’s things that happen and now I have to do what I have to do to get back out there."
A look at what's happening around the division:

BENGALS: Defensive end Robert Geathers could be sidelined for the entire preseason. Geathers injured his left knee on the first day of training camp and had it scoped Friday. Carlos Dunlap replaced Geathers in the starting lineup.

BROWNS: New owner Jimmy Haslam indicated that he's open to keeping team president Mike Holmgren around for the 2012 season. "I don't anticipate becoming owner until the middle of October," Haslam told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We have until the middle of October to listen and learn. You're basically halfway through the NFL season there, so that's reality."

RAVENS: Center Matt Birk could miss Thursday's preseason opener after being sidelined for a fifth straight practice with back spasms and a knee injury. "I'm probably going to slow him down a little bit more especially this week and maybe next week after the game, get him back in there," coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. Rookie fourth-round pick Gino Gradkowski is expected to fill in for Birk at center.

STEELERS: Joey Porter, Willie Parker, Aaron Smith and Marvel Smith all retired as Steelers before the team's annual night practice. "This is home. Even when I left -- it was OK to go and play for Miami and Arizona ... but there's nothing like home," Porter told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Pittsburgh -- once you come through here -- it's a special piece in your heart here, in Pittsburgh. That void wouldn't have been filled if I didn't come back and retire as a Steeler."

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