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Walker's weekend mailbag: Mason fallout

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Baltimore Ravens fans imploded our AFC North inbox this week following the surprising retirement of veteran receiver Derrick Mason.

With that said, here is what's on the mind of ESPN.com readers:

Marvin Smith from Baltimore, Md., writes: Looking at the situation the Ravens are in now, what receiver do you believe would be a good fit and a possibility for them to sign?

James Walker: I wrote earlier this week that Marvin Harrison is the best fit of what's left on the free-agent market. Harrison is a savvy veteran who, if healthy, is still capable of putting up Mason-like numbers -- 60-70 catches, and about 800 yards. I know Mason put up 80 receptions for 1,037 yards in 2008. But just getting close to those numbers would be a victory for Baltimore, considering the circumstances.


Greg Tucker from Silver Spring, Md., wants to know if Brandon Marshall now becomes more of a possibility.

James Walker: I keep jinxing myself when I say this, but from what I'm told the Denver Broncos have very little interest in trading Marshall. The Broncos hold all the cards. Marshall is under contract for one more season and possibly two if there is labor strife, because he would then become a restricted free agent. Plus, Marshall has some health issues, character concerns and wants a huge contract. I just think all of these factors wrapped into one package make it unlikely that Marshall lands in Baltimore this summer.


Baer from Baltimore wonders if Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams are now fantasy sleepers.

James Walker: I'm not sure when your draft starts, Baer, but I would hold off on these two for now. The Ravens still want to talk to Mason and Baltimore/Mason will probably make a decision one way or another fairly soon. So we don't know the roles of Clayton and Williams just yet for the upcoming season. I'm not confident Clayton could thrive as a No. 1 receiver and the primary focus of a defense for 16 games, and I really haven't seen enough of Williams because he's been injured.


Jim Goodrich from Zanesville, Ohio, wonders if Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is intentionally bringing the spotlight on himself as a motivational tool.

James Walker: This is a good question, Jim. Ochocinco is one of the most complex personalities in the NFL, so it's hard to say exactly what's going on in his head. But I think Ochocinco is most comfortable in this realm, when he's boastful and the center of attention. The problem is the Bengals and Ochocinco haven't been very good as of late, making all of this unneeded attention risky.


Joe Johnson from Pittsburgh, Pa., writes: How much more does James Farrior, 34, have left in the tank? Why didn't the Steelers release him instead of Larry Foote, who is 29?

James Walker: Joe, I have to question your fandom by asking this question. Despite the age difference, nearly everyone who follows the Steelers is aware that Farrior's level of play is far superior than Foote's. You can look at the stats or look at the film and it's a clear no-brainer to keep Farrior.


Joseph from Columbus wants to know if the new regime of Eric Mangini and George Kokinis is "more frugal" than the old regime of Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel.

James Walker: It's too early to tell, Joseph. Sure, the Browns have been unwilling to give out contract extensions to return specialist Joshua Cribbs and kicker Phil Dawson. But I can view the other side as well, where a new regime wants to first see how these players fit in their system as oppose to paying out big extensions for what a player did under a previous coach and general manager. It's an interesting dynamic and definitely something to watch in Cleveland in the coming weeks.