Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here are some observations on the latest happenings in the AFC North division:
Do not be fooled by Chad Ocho Cinco's declaration that he will have a quiet offseason. Unless something has changed from the end of the regular season, Ocho Cinco still prefers to be out of Cincinnati if he had his choice. Last year's method of yelling and screaming didn't work, so Ocho Cinco is aiming to take a quiet approach this time. Maybe it will help facilitate a trade much easier, because the value would be much lower if every team knew Cincinnati was trying to dump an unhappy player.
If the Baltimore Ravens have any chance of retaining most of their free agents, they likely will have to cut veteran cornerback Chris McAlister this offseason. McAlister has been a good player for a long time in Baltimore, but he is 31 and coming off back-to-back years of season-ending injuries. Money also is a big determining factor. Cutting McAlister will save Baltimore $8 million in actual dollars and salary-cap dollars, which could be used on pending free agents such as linebackers Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Bart Scott.
After attending Wednesday's press conference with Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini, I came away with very little feeling of what the team will look like in 2009. Mangini didn't offer up any clues or much insight on the team's plans on offense or defense. There is a lot of talk about the way he's come in and changed things with the Browns. But Mangini is doing things his way, and as long as he wins it shouldn't be an issue. Fans in Cleveland want something to pin their hopes on after last year's disappointment and another Super Bowl title for the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh's Super Bowl should help the team at the negotiating table. In the past week, I've talked to receiver Nate Washington, cornerback Bryant McFadden and offensive tackle Willie Colon about their pending free agency and all three equivocally said they hope Pittsburgh signs them to a new deal. Money, of course, is important. But you get a strong sense that Steelers' players appreciate the organization they're playing for and want to compete for another championship.