AFC North Notes: Smith, Haden, Dalton

Now that the Ravens have signed Dennis Pitta to a long-term deal, Baltimore’s next biggest priorities are left tackle Eugene Monroe and middle linebacker Daryl Smith. Monroe could still receive the franchise tag before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. deadline, but even if the Ravens do not tag him, they are expected to continue to work towards a multiyear contract extension with him. Meanwhile, Jamison Hensley of is “quietly confident” that the team will re-sign Smith, especially since they just released Jameel McClain.

Hensley adds that the bump in the 2014 salary cap makes it a little more likely that the Ravens can re-sign Jacoby Jones, but they will still not want to pay him more than $1-2MM. The team sees Jones as a returner, but if other teams see him as both a returner and receiver, those teams could offer him something closer to the $4MM he made last season. For a team that has a number of holes to fill–and Hensley added that GM Ozzie Newsome would not be afraid to sign some unrestricted free agents this season–Jones might be too much of a luxury item.

More notes from the AFC North:

  • Several weeks ago, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that, despite the posturing of GM Kevin Colbert, the Steelers would not be able to bring back both LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds and that Woodley would be released. Although he does not deviate from that stance in his latest piece, he does add an interesting twist. He notes that, according to Pro Football Focus, Woodley graded out as a slightly better player overall in 2013 (when he played, of course) and as a significantly better pass rusher. Although Woodley’s significant cap hit and recent injury history probably means he is still the odd-man out in Pittsburgh, the PFF grades and the increased salary cap at least give reason for pause.
  • Some of the Browns‘ top performers are eligible for free agency in 2015, and Tony Grossi of believes that several of them will receive new contracts this season. He also hears that the team and Joe Haden are close to a new deal.
  • Paul Dehner of looks at the Bengals‘ quarterback outlook for 2014. Although Andy Dalton is of course the unquestioned starter and the team is not likely to peruse the free agent market for QBs, Dalton’s rocky postseason performances and his entering the final year of his rookie contract make this a pivotal year for him and for his club. Dehner believes mid- to late-round QB prospects like Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger would be logical selections for the Bengals.
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