Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Representatives for Flacco traded contract proposals with the Ravens and plan to get back to the negotiating table this week, multiple league sources told the NFL Network. There hasn't been "a big push" to strike a deal with Flacco because cornerback Lardarius Webb (who agreed to a five-year extension last week) had been more of a priority, the NFL Network reported.
Flacco, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he understands the ramifications of going unsigned for the entire season.
“You don’t want to get to the point where you play out your contract and you get to those complicated situations where they can put the franchise tag on you and things like that," Flacco said.
Hensley's slant: Flacco is right that the Ravens wouldn't let him hit the free-agent market. They would use the franchise tag on him like they did with Ray Rice this year. It would be surprising to see talks drag into the season because both sides -- the Ravens want immediate salary-cap room and Flacco wants the security of a long-term deal -- are motivated to get it done. But it won't be easy. There is a significant pay gap between the second- and top-tier NFL quarterbacks.
BENGALS: Strong safety Taylor Mays, who is the top candidate right now to replace Chris Crocker in the starting lineup, told the team's official website that he has shed seven pounds even before the team's offseason workout program begins Monday. Mays decided to drop the pounds after coach Marvin Lewis teased him so much about his weight last year (238 pounds). "I'm down to 231 pounds, but those last five pounds are tough," Mays said. "I've got to really watch the diet 24-7 to do it. It’s like, 'Eat a french fry, miss a tackle.'" Hensley's slant: If Mays wants to take over Crocker's starting job, he has to do more than drop weight. The biggest concern about Mays is his ability to cover. That was reportedly the biggest reason why the San Francisco 49ers gave up on a second-round pick after one season.
BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto wrote his "hunch since January" has been the Browns taking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the fourth overall pick even though Cleveland needs help on offense. "I still think he's a serious candidate," Pluto wrote. "The Browns love good cornerbacks, it's why they took Joe Haden in the first round in 2010. I can imagine them saying, 'With Haden and Claiborne, our secondary can be set for years. These guys can cover and we can then bring heat on the cornerback.'" Hensley's slant: I still contend the Browns' decision at No. 4 is between Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Claiborne could have a longer career (because of the nature of the two positions), but Richardson is the better talent and fills a bigger need.
STEELERS: The Steelers need to address the lack of depth along the entire offensive line in the draft, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette. The notable backup tackles are Jonathan Scott and Chris Scott, and the top reserve guard is John Malecki. "They may not draft an offensive lineman first, but they surely must draft several of them," Bouchette wrote. Hensley's slant: Backups could play a big role on Pittsburgh's offensive line this year. Left guard Doug Legursky has never started more than 10 games in a season, and right tackle Willie Colon has been sidelined with injuries for 31 of the team's past 32 regular-season games.