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AFC North mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Steve Turner from Cincinnati writes: What are the chances a draft day deal gets done for Chad Johnson involving some draft picks? If so, who?

James Walker: Not likely, Steve. The Cincinnati Bengals made it clear this week that they are not willing to deal Chad Ocho Cinco. For one, Ocho Cinco is 31 and had an awful season in 2008. He doesn't bring back value for his considerable talent. Second, the cap hit of $4.87 million is less than last year's $8 million, but it's still nothing to sneeze at. If the Bengals ever decide to get over this combination, then there is a chance. But based on the team's recent comments, it doesn't appear likely.


Nelson from Toronto, Canada writes: Hi James ... I read your blog daily and love the info you supply. Quick question from Steeler Nation Canadian Division ... have you heard if Steelers are trying to extend Heath Miller since he has 1 year left on contract. Thanks.

James Walker: Things are quiet for now on the Miller front, Nelson. The Steelers are in a bit of a jam with the salary cap after giving the franchise tag to offensive tackle Max Starks and giving linebacker James Harrison a $51.175 million extension. Pittsburgh will have to create some wiggle room in the next few weeks and months through restructuring and/or cuts before anyone gets new deals, including its rookie class.


SteelSnatch from NYC writes: Hi James, Does Marvel Smith count as a qualified Free Agent, in terms of bringing a potential compensatory pick to the Steelers next year? For some reason on ESPN's free agent tracker, Marvel Smith is not showing up as belonging to the Steelers in '08 or as a new pick up by SF. I thought this was an official signing. Thanks

James Walker: Yes, Smith would count in the compensatory formula. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March.


Joseph from Columbus writes: Any chance the Browns resign Joe J at a discounted price or any other veteran receiver? How did the signing of Holt affect this?

James Walker: I would rule this idea out, Joseph. Jurevicius was released because he was unwilling to take a "significant" pay cut. Cleveland appears to want to go in a completely different direction anyway with veterans who were on the roster before new coach Eric Mangini arrived. I don't think Torry Holt's signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars has any impact on the Browns and Jurevicius.


Jim D. from Sarasota, Fl. writes: So James, did you go to DeMatha or Northwestern?
James Walker: Neither, Jim. But these are good guesses. I went to High Point High School in Beltsville, Md. As a prep cornerback, I played against current NFL running back LaMont Jordan and defensive backs Leigh Bodden and Madieu Williams in high school. True story.


Mark from Flemington NJ writes: Hey James you do a great job tried to get my question to you in the draft chat but there were a lot of people and I understand that. With the Bengals most likely taking an OT in the 1st and a Huge need at Center makes then 2nd round pick. But with lack of pressure on the QB what value do you think we can get at DE in the 3rd or do you think we should package some of our picks to jump back into the 2nd round???
James Walker: Mark, the Bengals have 11 picks but they also have an important decision to make. When you're coming off a four-win season, Cincinnati may use all 11 picks to try and help the team. It's not like the Steelers' position where they have nine picks but won a Super Bowl and lost just one starter, where half of those picks could end up cut or on the practice squad. That is why I think Pittsburgh trades up at some point this weekend. But Cincinnati, I'm not so sure. The Bengals have tremendous flexibility because they can take the strength-in-numbers approach or move up to get the most value. If Cincinnati goes o-line with the first two picks, as you mentioned Mark, the next two priorities are probably running back and improving the pass rush, whether it comes from a defensive end, d-tackle or linebacker.




Ricky from Solon, OH writes: If the Browns trade Edwards and both Curry and Crabtree are available at the #5 pick, who do you think the Browns would take? Certainly Crabtree would fill Edwards void and while good receivers are available later, they aren't necessarily #1 guys, but Curry fills a huge hole at either an inside linebacker or an outside linebacker in Mangini's 3-4.

James Walker: The Browns would probably take Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. Playing a 3-4 defense, you need very good linebackers to be successful. Cleveland can get receivers later in the draft if the team ends up trading Edwards to the New York Giants. Right now, that can go either way.


Sarah from Pittsburgh writes: What if the NFL put good, untapped rivalries in neutral college stadiums? For example, the Steelers play the Eagles at Penn State, or the Bengals play a team at Kentucky (the site of their training camp)? You could have the Cowboys and the Texans, too. The only problem I could see is that some natural rivalries would fall within the division (i.e.) Browns v. Bengals. Or you could have a battle of the divisions where each year the division with the highest winning percentage from each conference plays each other, followed by the next two, and match up within those two divisions, so first place v. first place. This is no different than the intraconference schedule now, and could create big name games, and give lowly teams another possible win.

James Walker: Great idea, Sarah. It would take a lot of planning, but it may work. Yet I'm not completely sold on the whole 17-game idea. A lot of players can't make it through the current schedule. Also, will owners pay players an extra week's game check or ask them to play for free? There is a lot of bickering over money issues right now, and I doubt the NFL wants every player in the league to get a raise. There are a lot of questions.