Let's take a look at our weekend mailbag.
Jay from Cincinnati wants to know if Bengals owner Mike Brown is bluffing by saying he won't trade quarterback Carson Palmer in order to increase his trade value.
James Walker: I doubt it, Jay. Brown and Palmer are very serious about their stances, and that is what makes this so compelling. It could come down to who -- if anyone -- will blink first. That's not to say Brown cannot change his mind. He might, and I think he should after the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton last week to be their quarterback. But the last time Brown spoke publicly, he was set on calling Palmer's bluff.
Gary from Kentucky writes: You keep talking about this big gap when it comes to the Bengals and then the Steelers and Ravens. I ask you once again why you feel this way?
Walker: There is a difference in talent, experience, coaching and stability compared with Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Gary. Those are four quick reasons right there. I've noticed a lot of Bengals and Browns fans don't like it when I write that those teams are still two years away from being a contender. That is my observation on the situation. Instead of bickering about my observation, make your own prediction. If you believe Cincinnati or Cleveland will contend for a Super Bowl in 2011 and win the AFC North, it's perfectly fine to say that. We want everyone's take in the AFC North blog.
Bill Simering from Stafford, Va., wants an update on Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Sergio Kindle.
Walker: There has been progress but no definitive word, Bill. The Ravens are optimistic with what they've seen. But it will remain cautious optimism until Kindle is officially cleared to play football again. Head injuries are very serious, and in football there are a lot of collisions in that area. So the Ravens are rightfully taking every precaution.
Zack from Baltimore, Md., writes: Why all this talk of my Ravens needing a pass rusher?
Walker: Because outside of Terrell Suggs, the Ravens didn't have another threat to get to the quarterback, Zack. Does anyone care to guess who was second in sacks for Baltimore last season? Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata with 5.5 sacks. That's not good enough. The Ravens may look for more help in free agency.
Jim from Baltimore wants to know if Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb will start next year.
Walker: Jim, right now the favorites are first-round pick Jimmy Smith and veteran corner Domonique Foxworth. But Foxworth has to prove he's 100 percent following last year's knee injury. If that's the case, Webb would probably be the team's No. 3 cornerback depending on what happens in free agency.
Ken from Washington D.C., wants to know about the development of inexperienced Pittsburgh Steelers cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Crezdon Butler.
Walker: It's hard to say, Ken. During this lockout there have been no minicamps or workout programs. So the teams don't really have a grasp on who's getting better this offseason. There has been little or no contact with most players.
Davis from JCMO writes: What are the chances the Steelers go after Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency?
Walker: Not happening, Davis. Let it go. The Steelers aren't paying that kind of money for one player.
Kovacs from Santa Monica, Calif., writes: I know you're probably sick of hearing this in the AFC North blog, but do the Browns have any shot at Nnamdi Asomugha?
Walker: Not happening, Kovacs. Let it go. Asomugha wants to play for a contender.
Jared from Cleveland wants to know if Browns general manager Tom Heckert will trade for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Walker: The Browns are fully committed to Colt McCoy, Jared. That means Cleveland won't give up the farm anytime soon to land another quarterback. The Browns just put themselves in position to acquire extra draft picks -- including two first-rounders in 2012-- from the Atlanta Falcons. Cleveland won't give up those quality picks for Kolb.
Dave Mahoney from Marion, Ohio, wants to know if the Browns should have drafted a quarterback.
Walker: Cleveland president Mike Holmgren wanted to in the later rounds because that's what he believes in, Dave. But it wasn't mandatory. The Browns believe they are set at the position. McCoy is the starter, and they have a veteran backup in Seneca Wallace. I'm still a little baffled why Jake Delhomme is on the roster, because he will make a lot of money for a third-string quarterback. But I sense we haven't heard the last of that situation once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Comment and complaint department
Trevor from St. Louis, Mo., writes: James, I don't understand why WR was such a priority for the Bengals. Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson were huge at the end of 2010 when they finally had a chance to see the field. ... With Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham also in the fold, I didn't even see WR as a position of need heading into the draft. What am I missing?
Walker: I understand your point, Trevor, and I mostly agree. But in the Bengals' minds, they have young receivers but not a No. 1 receiver. In a West Coast offense, you're going to pass the football at least 55 percent of the time, if not more. So Cincinnati believed it needed a legit No. 1 threat, which Shipley, Simpson and Caldwell are not. Chad Ochocinco used to be that player but isn't anymore. But I agree that drafting a receiver that high is always risky when you have other holes.
Bob R. from Westminster, Md., writes: I am a Ravens fan and I love Ed Reed, and I have no problem with the ranking of Troy Polamalu one spot ahead of him in the "Great Safety Debate." They both do their thing and they do it differently. As a fan, I'd take Ed first all the way. But from a strictly football perspective, it is hard to not take Troy. What sold me is how different that Steeler defense played without him a year ago. Baltimore can still be dominant without Reed, they have another field General in Ray Lewis. But the Steelers? Their defense severely suffered without Polamalu out there.
Walker: This topic has been raging in the AFC North blog since we started in 2008, Bob, and hopefully this brings closure to the "Troy Reed" debate. I've been ducking this topic for as long as I could, because I think they're both great and future Hall of Famers. But when forced to vote, I chose Polamalu.
Ryan K from Canton, Ohio, writes: James, being the writer for the AFC North Blog, I was disappointed to see no mention of TJ Ward in your top 10 safeties post. As a rookie, Ward played in all 16 games totaling 123 tackles, an INT, and a forced fumble.
Walker: Just because I cover the AFC North doesn't mean I'm required to vote for Ward, Ryan. I'm not a homer for any team, and I've established that long ago. In my opinion, Ward is not a top 10 safety. But speaking of homers…
AFC North Homer of the Week
Here is another classic from our AFC North inbox. Enjoy.
John Finley from Easley, S.C.,, writes: Mr. James Walker, last year I had said the Browns would be in the Super Bowl. What I didn't know at that time was that all of the Browns three QBs would go down. Now as far as this season, providing we have a season and the Browns can stay healthy the Cleveland Browns will be playing the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl. And no I am not smoking anything I just think the "HUMAN WRECKING BALLS" in Cleveland will knock down everything in its path the season including the Lions in the Super Bowl. When all the dust settles the Cleveland Browns will be the only team still standing. Go Browns!
Walker: Mr. John Finley, Browns versus Lions in the Super Bowl? Scouts Inc. recently predicted Cleveland would be the worst team in the NFL in 2011. Although it would be nice to cover my second straight Super Bowl for the AFC North blog and third in four years, the Browns' only trip to Indy will be in Week 2 of the regular season. I know you are excited about the draft, but you are really a homer for this one.
If you have any additional questions, complaints or homer comments, feel free to send them to our division inbox.