AFC North Free Agency Watch: Day 12


There were no actual transactions taking place yesterday in free agency for the AFC North, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t still plenty of things to comment on. And while none of the division teams made any signings or suffered any losses, that can always change in an instant depending on the way certain things break.

The main headline coming out of the division last night came from one of the AFC North’s own free agents himself, when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison took to social media to convey his indecision about his future.

Indecision? The implication in his posting is that he has to decide whether to play his final year for the team that gave him his chance, or the coach that gave him his chance, because the two no longer reside in the same city.

Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is with the Tennessee Titans, and Harrison’s affection for the man doesn’t need to be explained. Could playing on more year for Coach Dad outweigh the chance to stay close to his family, likely get more playing time, and finish out his career with the team that he technically already retired with once—a team with whose young corps of linebackers he also seems to have built a rapport?

I think the real news here, however, might be the suggestion that Harrison will be on an NFL roster sooner rather than later—as in perhaps before the NFL Draft even happens. That may not be to the Steelers’ benefit should that occur, who seem to want to wait to see what happens through that process before committing to Harrison again.

One interesting storyline to monitor elsewhere in the division is gaining legs, and it comes from the Cleveland Browns. It was reported that the Browns were the team that offered the Philadelphia Eagles a first-round draft pick for quarterback Sam Bradford.

There is wide and credible belief, however, that Eagles coach Chip Kelly is playing his hand to get the quarterback he really wants, which is Marcus Mariota in the draft, and part of that process is selling the idea that he is committed to Bradford to increase his trade value come draft day.

The upshot of this is that the Browns may potentially end up with one of these quarterbacks, which certainly wouldn’t be surprising given how the organization has been run since returning to the league. Team owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly the impatient type who believes that the quarterback must come first.

In other Browns news, the team has reportedly scheduled a pre-draft visit with wide receiver DaVante Parker.

While there was nothing of note yet to report out of Cincinnati, other than one of their free agents continuing to negotiate a contract elsewhere, there is some potential movement for the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens do have some salary cap space, and they are reportedly interesting in signing a tight end, since they currently don’t have a healthy starter there. There’s also serious discussion about working out an extension with cornerback Jimmy Smith, who is slated to play under his fifth-year option in 2015 as a former first-round draft pick, which means he would hit free agency in 2016.

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