AFC North mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Let's check the AFC North inbox and answer some questions.

JMO from Bed Stuy writes: I don't care who said what. Let's get Cribbs on the field ASAP! It sounded like Mangini was excited about Josh Cribbs' versatility, so hopefully, this won't become a problem.

James Walker: I could say on good authority, JMo, that this is a problem situation. According to ESPN.com's John Clayton, Cribbs requested a trade Thursday. What I'm hearing is right in line with most of the reports out there that Cribbs was told to stay quiet, play through the 2008 season, and then the team will rework his contract. Cribbs did his part and now he's upset. Who told Cribbs about a new deal is up for interpretation. According to Cribbs, the old regime and current owner Randy Lerner said it. According to the Browns, Lerner or no one else currently with the team promised anything. I'm not sure how this episode is going to end.

Steve from Saratoga writes: I was wondering if you had heard anything about the Cincinnati Bengals signing Roderick Hood? I know he came in for a visit and I think that would be a huge pickup as a nickel back. Thanks

James Walker: I have not heard anything on Hood, Steve. He visited with Cincinnati recently, but no deal was struck and he continues to visit with other teams. Most likely the Roy Williams signing at safety will be the final veteran addition to the secondary unless someone gets injured.

Raashid from London, UK writes: Hi James, love the blog, easily the best one on ESPN. I know a lot of people are asking why the Steelers haven't signed Max Starks to an extension yet. My question is why would Max sign one anyway? This year and last year he's got approx. $15m and with a whole season to show-case himself as a starting LT will have another run at free agency next year? What's his incentive to sign?

James Walker: Greetings in the UK, Raashid, and thanks. Starks will probably never make $8.415 million in a season the rest of his career. So it's definitely something Starks and his representatives have to think about. But a reason for Starks to sign now is the security. Most players do not like to play in the final year of their contracts because football is such a physical game. A player can get injured in his contract year and enter the market as "damaged goods," which means they won't command much money next season.

Andreas Kisa from Sweden writes: Hi. A lot of people were surprised by Joe Flacco last season. Do you think that he will be as good this season as he was last year?

James Walker: Greetings in Sweden, Andreas. Flacco will not be as good as last year for the Baltimore Ravens. I think Flacco will be better than 2008. From what I saw in minicamp, Flacco is well ahead of schedule for most second-year quarterbacks. Physically, he has all the tools for an NFL quarterback, and mentally he gets it. He has a great mentality for the position and works extremely hard. Receiver depth is a question, though.