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AFC North News Watch: Day 16

Yesterday saw the league’s annual Owners Meetings draw to a close, which means that all of the team owners, presidents, general managers, and head coaches who were in attendance began trickling back to their home bases last night.

Consequently, that means that they will be getting back to their regular business activities, which somewhat slowed to a crawl over the course of the first half of this week due to the meetings taking place.

Though the competition committee and other sorted committees were able to accomplish much in terms of passing and tweaking a good number of rules that will each minutely affect the upcoming season, there was, perhaps, not much of direct relevance to specific teams, including those in the AFC North.

There is one team, however, that is probably feeling a bit of a sense of vindication after the competition committee yesterday passed a rule pertaining to the positioning of ineligible players, which would be the Baltimore Ravens.

During their postseason loss to the Patriots, New England used a running back declared ineligible in the slot, which caused confusion. The new rule prevents plays with eligible jersey numbers deemed ineligible from lining up outside of the tackle box.

Also relevant in the division was the late pronouncement from Commissioner Roger Goodell that the Cleveland Browns would be subject to discipline as a result of their improper usage of text messaging during games last season. According to Adam Schefter, the discipline is expected to be “severe”.

As for the Cincinnati Bengals, they prepared to lose another free agent for the second day in a row to the Minnesota Vikings, although neither seemed to be in their future plans. Yesterday, Schefer reported that the Vikings were finalizing a deal with free agent cornerback Terence Newman.

The day prior, they signed free agent safety Taylor Mays. The Bengals, of course, have a number of high-pedigreed cornerbacks already on the roster, including last year’s first-round draft pick, so Newman’s loss is certainly not an unanticipated turn of events.

Regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers, team president Art Rooney II had one final day to address a myriad of topics at the Owners Meetings. On the subject of Troy Polamalu, he said that the organization has put no “drop-dead date” regarding his future. Of course, that still doesn’t mean that they are not already committed to parting ways with him if he decides to further his playing career.

Rooney also confirmed that the team has yet to hear from the league about anything formal regarding the pending suspension for Le’Veon Bell, nor was there any discussion about the Steelers opening the season against the defending Super Bowl champions.

On the subject of the team’s request for the league to schedule their two west coast road games in back-to-back weeks, Rooney was not optimistic about the request being honored. He also confirmed that the team’s seventh-round compensatory pick initially announced was amended to what is now a sixth-round pick.

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