AFC North Sunday morning roundup

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
10:11
AM ET
A look at what's happening around the AFC North:

BENGALS: The team reached an agreement with cornerback Jason Allen, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly $8.2 million over two years for Allen, 28, who was a 2006 first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins. Allen provides depth at cornerback as well as insurance if Leon Hall (Achilles injury) isn't ready for the start of the season. ... Earlier on Saturday, the Bengals made their first move in free agency when they signed Carolina guard Travelle Wharton. ... Bengals free-agent safety Reggie Nelson received an offer from the New York Jets and will make a decision by today, according to the New York Daily News. The Bengals, Jets and a third team (perhaps the Dolphins and former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle) have expressed interest in Nelson, the paper reported. ... Defensive lineman Kendall Langford, who visited Cincinnati on Thursday, agreed to a four-year, $24 million deal (which includes $12 million guaranteed) with the St. Louis Rams. Hensley's slant: The addition of Allen is an upgrade over Adam Jones, who filled in for Hall last season. Allen was the better playmaker last season, making a career-best four interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, Allen gave up four touchdowns but he held quarterbacks to a 65.0 rating.

BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto has a hard time believing the Browns will go into this season with a Colt McCoy-Seneca Wallace quarterback battle. "My guess is McCoy starts, and they add someone such as Brandon Weeden or Ryan Tannehill (unless the draft price is too high) as a backup," Pluto wrote. "[Team president Mike] Holmgren mentioned taking a quarterback lower in the draft, which is possible. Heckert talked about how no one was excited when the Bengals took Andy Dalton in the second round -- until they saw him play." ... The Browns traded quarterback Brady Quinn to the Broncos two years ago for running back Peyton Hillis and a sixth-round pick. Now, Quinn and Hillis are teammates on the Chiefs. Hensley's slant: If I had to place a bet on the quarterback who will get drafted by the Browns, I would go with Weeden. The Browns seem genuinely impressed with him despite his age (28 years old).

RAVENS: As reported Saturday, free-agent guard Evan Mathis chose to stay with the Eagles over signing with the Ravens. “I am very honored to have found a home with an organization as great as the Eagles,” Mathis said in a statement, via the Carroll County (Md.) Times. “The choice was between two classy organizations and I have the utmost respect for everything Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens represent. They made it a tough decision but my heart was in Philly.” ... Ravens free-agent safety Tom Zbikowski officially signed his three-year, $5.5 million contract (included a signing bonus for just over $1 million) with the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens expressed some interest in keeping him, according to Zbikowski's agent Ralph Cindrich. ... Right tackle Eric Winston, who reportedly had a visit scheduled with the Ravens, signed with the Chiefs last night. Not sure if it made any sense for the Ravens to meet with Winston after they picked up the $500,000 roster bonus on Bryant McKinnie. Hensley's slant: The Ravens are now on Plan C when it comes to addressing left guard, which is the biggest hole on the team.
STEELERS: To clear up the matter involving Casey Hampton, it appears that the five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle took a pay cut and didn't simply restructure his contract like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and others to help the team with more salary-cap room, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hampton, who was originally scheduled to make $4.8 million, reportedly reduced his salary by $2 million. Hensley's slant: It's a win-win for both sides. Hampton essentially bought his starting job by agreeing to the pay cut, and the Steelers don't have a glaring hole to fill. Of course, that's assuming Hampton will be ready to play after ACL surgery in late January. The Steelers still need to address nose tackle in the draft.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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