One theme in the AFC North weekly chat was offensive lines. Are the Bengals re-signing Andre Smith? Who is starting at left tackle for the Ravens? Does it make sense for the Steelers to go after Sebastian Vollmer? You can find those answers and more in these highlights ...
Jim (Ohio): What are you hearing about the Bengals being able to resign Andre Smith?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): It sounds good. Teams are apparently worried about giving Smith too much money. There's questions about whether he'll still be motivated. If Bengals don't re-sign him, there are plenty of options in the draft. But none are as athletic as Smith.
Chuck (Cincy): Can you tell Who Dey Nation to calm down about not being aggressive in free agency? I'd rather extend Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson; re-sign Smith and Adam Jones than go spend big bucks on outsiders.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I agree that extending Atkins, Dunlap and Johnson should be a priority. The only criticism I have is the failure to address strong safety in free agency. Yes, the Bengals can draft someone to start. But getting someone in free agency doesn't force you to take one because it's less of a need.
Stlrfan743 (gettysburg pa): is there a chance that James Harrison is back with the Black and Gold this season? Has there been any conversations about this being a possibility? I know the Steelers brass expressed that they wanted to keep James.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): There is always a chance, but I don't see it happening. Harrison would't take a pay cut and I don't see him coming back at a price that would be even lower than the original pay cut. Plus, when the Steelers part with their big name players, they don't typically bring them back. Look at Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith.
curtis (ohio): Do you see the browns signing any defensive backs or safeties any time soon?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The Browns made a good run at Falcons free-agent CB Brent Grimes. They reportedly sent a private jet for him. That would be a big signing for Cleveland. But there's talk that Grimes is thinking of staying with the Falcons. Bucs and Dolphins are also interested in him.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]: Pittsburgh won't panic. Come draft day the perfect player lands at No. 17 for them. Never fails.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Well, Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward don't really fall into the "perfect" category.
Average Joe (mean, median, ): As a first round pick is Ziggy a disappointment, a bust, or meets expectations? If you go with exceedes expectations, you got some explaining to do.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I would say disappointment. He would fall into the bust category if he never developed into a capable starter.
Mark (Houston): Any word on which way Terence Newman appears to be leaning?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): No word on where he's leaning. But Newman is close to Mike Zimmer. That has to weigh into the decision. But he also knows the Bengals want to get Kirkpatrick into the starting lineup at some point this season.
Aaron (DC): Afternoon, Jamison. Do you see the Browns making any more moves in free agency, or do you think they're content to wait for the draft to try to plug the rest of their holes?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): They'll have to address cornerback in some fashion, whether it's a top-level guy like Brent Grimes or a stop-gap like New England's Kyle Arrington. You can't go into the draft with that hole there.
Peter G (New Berlin, WI): Do you think the Browns overpaid for Kruger and Bryant?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Kruger, a definite yes. $20M guaranteed for someone who has 15.5 career sacks. Bryant, no. Teams around the league know his value. That's why the Patriots wanted him as well.
Shane (Charlotte): Do you think it makes sense for the Steelers to try and sign offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I think the Steelers were interested in Jake Long because he was such a significant upgrade. Not sure if Pittsburgh thinks the same about Vollmer.
Great8 (College Park): Who's the early favorite to play LT for the Ravens this year?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Michael Oher. Remember, you asked the question. Don't get upset with the answer.