Inside the AFC North

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Here is an insider's look at what's going on within the division:

  • Our AFC North inbox is getting letters of early concern with contract situation involving Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison. Two weeks ago, we reported that both sides were in serious negotiations in an effort to get a deal done. Since then nothing has been finalized, which has caused readers to wonder if there is a problem. We recently checked back in and talks are still going well. James' reps would like to get a deal done sooner than later, but there is no real deadline involved because Harrison is not a free agent until 2010.

  • The Ray Lewis situation with the Baltimore Ravens is not similar to Albert Haynesworth of the Tennessee Titans. Lewis appears to be primed to test the market by week's end, but we're told he is open to signing with Baltimore early if he received the right deal before Feb. 27. Haynesworth has his mind made up that he wants to see what else is out there before negotiating with Tennessee. Lewis is keeping both options open.

  • Baylor prospect Jason Smith has no problem telling the Cincinnati Bengals or any other team that he's the best offensive tackle in the draft. "Put on my film from Baylor and you'll see that I'm the best," Smith said during an impressive combine interview session. Smith also appears to have a mean streak desperately needed in Cincinnati. But with Smith, the Bengals likely will have to trade up from the No. 6 pick to get quarterback Carson Palmer the best protection available.

  • There has been some conversation in Cleveland recently about the Browns and whether they should release tailback Jamal Lewis, but don't expect it to happen. The AFC North blog is being told Lewis has too much guaranteed money to consider the thought. He signed a three-year deal worth $17 million last year and much of it is owed in the first two seasons. But that may not stop the Browns from pursuing free-agent tailback Derrick Ward.