AFC North Notes: McCown, Carter, Thomas

Much has been made of the Browns‘ quarterback situation heading into 2015, with a great deal of the discussion revolving around second-year signal-caller Johnny Manziel. But there has been significantly less attention devoted to the man who will more than likely be under center when Week 1 rolls around, Josh McCown.

McCown, signed to a three-year, $14MM contract this offseason, is not the solution at quarterback that Cleveland fans desperately seek. He is 35, and he has largely served as a backup in his 12 seasons in the league, compiling a 17-32 record as a starter. However, head coach Mike Pettine thinks that even if McCown is not the long-term answer, he does represent the next best thing. Pettine had this to say at yesterday’s Fan Fest (from Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal):

“Until you feel you’ve found what you would call a long-term solution, I don’t think we could have done any better than bringing in a guy like Josh McCown…It’s like having another coach on the field, and it’s all genuine. That’s the thing you like the most. Despite his age, people that have been at practice agree, he can still spin it. We didn’t just look to bring in a guy who was just going to be a mentor. We wanted a guy who we think can still play a little bit if you put him in the right circumstances. He’s been more than advertised.”

As Ulrich writes, Pettine’s comments, which were echoed by GM Ray Farmer, suggest that McCown is not only the favorite to win the starting job out of training camp this season, he is a lock.

Let’s check out a couple of more links from the AFC North:

  • As we learned several weeks ago, Browns safety Tashaun Gipson is the only restricted free agent who appears demonstratively unhappy with his contract situation, as he was offered a second-round tender rather than a first-round tender. As Tony Grossi of writes, the Browns should have gone the extra mile and extended the first-round offer, which would have cost the team an extra $1MM but would have set a positive tone for extension talks. Grossi believes, however, that the situation could still be resolved amicably.
  • By releasing Jacoby Jones this offseason, the Ravens left themselves a hole at kick returner. One of the early favorites for that role, Michael Campanaro, has struggled with injury in his young career, and though cornerback Lardarius Webb was an effective returner a few years ago, injuries have taken their toll on him as well, and Baltimore does not want to risk losing their No. 2 corner to a special teams injury. As Clifton Brown of writes, that leaves the door wide open for undrafted free agent DeAndre Carter, the diminutive receiver who showed explosive speed at Sacramento State and whose chances to stick on the 53-man roster seem to increase with each passing day.
  • Shamarko Thomas has battled injury in his first two seasons in the league, but in the wake of Troy Polamalu‘s retirement, he now has the chance to establish himself as the Steelers‘ long-term answer at strong safety. Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review describes the work that Thomas has put in this offseason to ensure that he capitalizes on his opportunity, work that has not gone unnoticed by Thomas’ running mate st safety, Mike Mitchell.
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