AFC North Notes: Gilbert, Flowers, Green-Ellis

Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert will be a free agent at the end of the 2014 campaign, and, as Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, Gilbert can expect to see a big payday in his near future. The only question is what team will be paying him.

Though the Steelers do have some cap room to work out an extension or two before the start of the season, key players like Ben Roethlisberger, Jason Worilds, and Cortez Allen are also extension candidates, and there may not be enough money to go around. Right tackles, even middle-of-the road ones, were paid pretty well this offseason, with Austin Howard setting the pace after landing a five-year, $30MM deal with the Raiders.

However, only one of the right tackles to get a lucrative free agent deal this year graded out as a better player than Gilbert, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Breno Giacomini, who signed a four-year, $18MM contract with the Jets, was ranked by PFF as the 41st-ranked tackle in the league, with Gilbert checking in at No. 44, Howard at No. 47, and Michael Oher at No. 68.

It would be safe, then, to assume that Gilbert is in line for a pretty nice raise, and though he would like to remain in Pittsburgh, he stated that he is not focused on his contract situation at the moment. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has apparently approached the Steelers about a long-term deal, but those talks are in the preliminary stages.

Now some more AFC North notes:

  • Undrafted rookie Brendon Kay is a long-shot to make the Steelers‘ roster, but he believes he has a chance to unseat Landry Jones as the team’s third-string quarterback, writes Sean Hammond of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Ravens may be a dark horse candidate for Brandon Flowers, writes Jamison Hensley of Cornerback is an area of need for the club after losing the steady Corey Graham in free agency, but before Flowers was cut, Hensley believed that the team would not sign a veteran free agent until after the final major cutdown following the preseason finale. But Flowers’ release represents one of those rare opportunities that GM Ozzie Newsome loves to exploit: the chance to grab an elite talent who unexpectedly shakes loose from his former club (see: Elvis Dumervil). Although the Ravens do not have a ton of cap space, they could potentially create more room by releasing someone like Sam Koch or Chris Canty, and the thought of teaming Flowers with Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith might be enough to make Newsome and company pull the trigger.
  • Coley Harvey of believes that Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis will be cut before the season begins. Harvey writes that it is a “mystery” as to why Green-Ellis is still on the roster, and he notes that the club would create $2.5MM of cap space by cutting him.
  • In the same piece, Harvey writes that if the Bengals want to keep Jermaine Gresham on the team beyond 2014–which may or may not be the case–any contract talks will probably not take place until after the season. Harvey also writes that the Bengals are one of the seemingly few teams who will not have interest in Flowers.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in response to a reader’s question concerning the future of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, writes that the team will likely not release Gordon before giving him a chance to “turn things around.” Cabot also notes that the coaching staff is high on right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is a good fit in Kyle Shanahan‘s zone-blocking scheme.
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