North Notes: Thomas, Bell, Janis

As expected, the agent for Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, Peter Schaffer, has quickly moved to dispute this morning’s reports that the trade that would have sent Thomas to the Broncos fell through because Denver would not guarantee Thomas’ 2016 and 2017 salaries. Those reports, of course, also mentioned that Thomas asked Cleveland to see if it would be able to trade him. In a series of tweets, Mary Kay Cabot of passes along Schaffer’s response.

Schaffer says Denver and Cleveland never discussed Thomas’ contract, adding that if the Broncos were willing to give up a first-round pick for Thomas, they had no intention of cutting him, so there would have been no need to discuss guaranteed salaries. Furthermore, Schaffer says neither he nor Thomas asked the Browns to pursue a trade, and he is frustrated that this morning’s news made Thomas–who expressed surprise that he was almost traded, and said he would have been crushed should the deal have happened–look like a liar. Former NFL agent Joel Corry weighed in as well (via Twitter), noting that even if Thomas did ask for his 2016 and 2017 salaries to be guaranteed, that should not have killed the trade unless Schaffer convinced Denver that a holdout was coming next year.

Now let’s take a look at some more notes from the league’s north divisions:

  • Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says the Steelers, who typically refuse to entertain in-season extension talks with their players, may have to make an exception for Le’Veon Bell, who underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that Bell is on target to return right when the 2016 season begins, but Kaboly points out that any complication would make it an in-season return. If the Steelers then choose to wait until the end of the season to negotiate with Bell, it could be too late, as the talented back would be eligible for free agency. As such, Pittsburgh may have to bite the bullet and discuss an extension with Bell in the midst of the 2016 campaign.
  • The Steelers will not, however, discuss an extension with Bell until they at least get some idea of how his knee handles game action, as Corry tweets. La Canfora agrees, tweeting that although the team feels “very good” about how Bell will recover, they will shelve extension talks for a while, particularly since they will likely need to address Antonio Brown‘s contract in the near future as well.
  • In his latest mailbag, Tony Grossi of explains why he believes Tashaun Gipson will not be with the Browns in 2016, and he looks at the dilemma head coach Mike Pettine faces in deciding whether Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown should be under center for the remainder of the year.
  • Jeff Janis, the Packers‘ seventh-round selection in 2014, is the only member of the team to amass 78 or more receiving yards in a single game during the last month. However, as Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, Green Bay has shown a strange reluctance to consistently include Janis in the game plan, despite the team’s offensive struggles. Cohen takes a look at Janis’ journey to this point in his career as he awaits an opportunity to prove himself on a weekly basis.
  • Matt Vensel of The Star Tribune describes how the Vikings, who again looked to the later rounds of the draft to address their biggest offseason need, the offensive line, have been hurt by that strategy this year. Vensel goes on to explore the team’s history of seeking out late-round gems to fill out its O-line.
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