AFC Notes: Steelers, Patriots, Browns

There has been a great deal of speculation regarding what the Steelers will do with their talented duo of LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds, but Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives the most definitive prediction to date. He writes that “it is just not conceivable” that the team will be able to retain both players for the 2014 season, and he believes Woodley will be odd-man out. By cutting Woodley now, the Steelers would suffer a $14.17MM cap hit this year, which is not significantly more than the $13.59MM hit they would take if they kept him. Plus, after 2014, he would be off the books entirely, which is a tantalizing prospect for a team that has backed itself into a difficult salary-cap situation.

Of course, as has been noted previously, Pittsburgh could designate Woodley as a post-June 1 release, which would spread out the $14.17MM hit over the 2014 and 2015 seasons and give the team an extra $8MM to spend this year. However, that $8MM would not become available until after June 1, which would limit what the Steelers could do in free agency (either with their own free agents or with those from other clubs). Whichever route the team takes, Bouchette believes Woodley has played his last game as a Steeler.

Other notes from the AFC:

  • Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes the Steelers will not re-sign Emmanuel Sanders, and Christopher Price of thinks the Patriots would take another shot at Sanders if he is, in fact, still available when free agency begins in March. New England, of course, signed Sanders to an offer sheet last offseason when he was a restricted free agent, prompting Pittsburgh to match the offer to retain the speedy wideout. If New England were to re-sign Julian Edelman, then the Patriots would likely not pursue Sanders, as the two players offer similar skill-sets. But if Edelman finds greener pastures elsewhere, Sanders may become a top free-agent priority for New England.
  • Meanwhile, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald thinks that, now the Larry Fitzgerald-to-New England dream is dead, the Patriots will not look outside its own roster to find the big-play outside receiver the team covets. The answer, she writes, could be second-year man Aaron Dobson, who has all the physical tools and who looked better and better as the 2013 season progressed.
  • In a recent Q & A with Mary Kay Cabot of, new Browns GM Ray Farmer indicates that he has a favorite quarterback in this year’s draft class, but that quarterback may not be Johnny Manziel. In fact, Farmer said the QB he likes “may not be the name that everybody thinks is the latest, greatest, and the easy one to spot,” and he suggested that Cleveland’s No. 4 overall pick may be too high for this unnamed player. Farmer is already adept at “GM-speak,” as the rest of his answers consisted primarily of the vague generalities one would expect from a high-ranking executive at this time of the year, but his musings about his favorite QB are nonetheless intriguing.
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