It seems that April Fool’s Day turned out to be an unusually active Wednesday around the AFC North, especially for this portion of the offseason that lies in the heart of the dead zone between the heights of free agency and the Pro Day tour leading up to the draft.
When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, of course, the major news of the day was the team’s decision to re-sign free agent defensive lineman Clifton Geathers. Geathers only spent five games on the roster, including the postseason, and was never active for a game, after being added when defensive end Brett Keisel was placed on injured reserve.
After the Steelers released Keisel earlier this year, of course, they had a roster spot to fill along the defensive line, and since Geathers already filled that void during the season, he will evidently be given another chance to maintain that spot. Of course, he is far from a lock to make the roster, and we still have a long way to go in the roster building process. He signed a veteran minimum contract and is guaranteed nothing aside from a small bonus.
In other Steelers news, the team has reportedly shown interest in Miami tight end Clive Walford, who is considered one of the better players at his position coming out of the draft. They have also visited with cornerback Darryl Roberts. Oh, and, of course, the news yesterday that the team reached out to former Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed was a joke.
The other team generating news around the division yesterday was the Baltimore Ravens, who have been largely quiet outside of re-signing their own players, much as the Steelers have been this offseason, though they have signed a safety and a backup quarterback.
Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski received some bad news as a result, as the Ravens traded his brother, center Gino Gradkowski, sending him off to Denver in exchange for undisclosed 2016 draft real estate. Gradkowski was given the chance to start in 2013 during his second season and did a bad enough job that the Ravens felt compelled to trade for a center.
In the meantime, the Ravens are exploring the possibility of working out some contract extensions for some of their key players entering the final year of their deals, which includes former first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith and Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is another player that the Ravens would like to work out a long-term arrangement with by the end of the offseason.
Meanwhile, after Cincinnati Bengals free agent wide receiver and return man Brandon Tate took a visit with Kansas City, the Bengals moved in to re-sign him. Tate is one of those returners that is willing to take anything out of the end zone.
The Bengals also had some fun with the Cleveland Browns, using April Fool’s Day to rib their Ohio neighbors over their new ‘logo’ alteration earlier this offseason, which basically consisted of making the orange a slightly darker, bolder shade. Not that there’s any shortage of items to mock the Browns about these days.