AFC Notes: Mariota, Bowe, Manuel, Raiders

Offset language continues to represent why Marcus Mariota hasn’t come to terms with the Titans on his rookie contract, the last such holdout. Whether or not Mariota would draw two salaries if cut by the Titans — a highly unlikely event considering Jake Locker finished his four-year deal in Tennessee — and signed by another team is slowing down the process, writes John Glennon of the Tennesseean.

No. 1 pick Jameis Winston‘s contract does contain offset language, which determines whether or not a second team’s payment would help the Titans offset the amount owed to 2015’s No. 2 selection in this scenario, but No. 3 choice Dante Fowler Jr.‘s does not, Glennon reports.

In a decade that’s featured far fewer first-round contract issues than the last due to the clearer structure of the new CBA on rookie salaries, the Titans have been the last team to sign their first-rounder in each of the past three seasons, with Chance Warmack and Taylor Lewan coming to terms late in the summer on their respective deals in 2013 and 2014. First-rounder Kendall Wright missed three days of training camp in 2012 after becoming the second-to-last player to sign that year.

Glennon views Mariota’s camp as holding the leverage in these talks, with the Titans coming off a 2-14 season and ready to have the face of their franchise and advertising campaign suit up.

Here are some more items being mentioned across the AFC as Independence Day winds into the afternoon. We’ll continue with a couple of quarterback assessments.

  • This could be the typical preseason hype before any negatives come to light, a time-honored tradition across sports, but Dwayne Bowe had an interesting observation as he prepares for his first training camp with the Browns. “With Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, we’re going to have a lot of time to hit that deep ball even in the red zone,” Bowe told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a piece centered on the ex-Chiefs wideout’s 17-game span without a touchdown. “I never had a quarterback like Josh (McCown) that was that tall and could see the mismatch and really go to it. He’s got my confidence level high right now.” It’s true Bowe hasn’t exactly had the best passers throwing to him in Brodie Croyle, Matt Cassel and Alex Smith, but the latter duo are 6-foot-5 and 6-4, respectively, while McCown also stands 6-4. Perhaps it’s a sign McCown has shown a penchant to take more risks than the two checkdown-based artists displayed during Bowe’s time in Kansas City.
  • In analyzing Winston, former Buccaneers Pro Bowler and current FOX analyst Ronde Barber made his presumptive stance on the Bills‘ starting quarterback battle known. “The guy that preceded (Winston) at Florida State, EJ Manuel, I did a couple of games of Buffalo over these two years that I’ve been working at FOX, and he is the other way. He’s timid. He holds the ball. He’s scared to deliver it when he needs to,” Barber told Kevin Patra of “This guy is the complete opposite, maybe to a detriment at times; he throws a lot of interceptions. But he has that “it,” that bravado, that gunslinger mentality, if I could use that (tired) cliché, to be a great quarterback in this league.” 
  • Elvis Dumervil collected an extra $1MM in incentive cash with his 12th sack last season, and the 10th-year pass-rusher can earn an additional $3MM by hitting that plateau again this season for the Ravens, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The two-time first-team All-Pro matched his career high with 17 sacks last season, and in doing so began a push for his contract signed before the 2013 season to inflate to its full value of $33MM over five years.
  • Behind Latavius Murray, who will receive the first chance to start and build on the momentum he showed at the end of his second season, in the Raiders backfield are Trent Richardson and Roy Helu. The latter has a clearer path to steady playing time, with a proven track record as a passing-down back, writes Steve Corkran of Marcel Reece, however, may not despite the seventh-year fullback coming off three consecutive Pro Bowl campaigns. As is the case in many NFL attacks today, the fullback does not make frequent cameos in Bill Musgrave‘s system.
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