North Notes: Tucker, Tobin, Steelers, Bears

Veteran kicker Justin Tucker is eligible for free agency this offseason, but it sounds like the Ravens plan to keep him in the fold. Tucker confirmed on Monday that negotiations between the team and his agent have been ongoing for quite some time, according to Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun.

“My agent [Robert Roche] and these guys have been talking, on and off, for a better part of a year, year and a half,” Tucker said. “At this juncture, I’m kind of letting it all just unfold how it’s going to unfold.

“I’m optimistic that something will get done, but at the same time, like I said, the only thing that I can really concern myself with as a player is just improving and making sure that wherever I end up, I know I’m going to end up where, God willing, I’m supposed to end up, but the only thing that I can take care of is my own personal business, and that’s making myself the best kicker possible.”

Tucker, 26, has been a little shakier during the last two seasons than he was in his first two years, missing five field goal attempts in 2014 and seven in 2015. However, all but one of those misses came from 50+ yards, and he converted all 29 of his extra-point tries in 2015, so he’ll be in line for a nice raise from Baltimore.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s North divisions:

  • Bengals personnel chief Duke Tobin received requests for general manager interviews from both the Lions and Titans, reports Adam Schefter of (Twitter link). According to Schefter though, Tobin intends to remain in Cincinnati long-term.
  • DeAngelo Williams may not be able to play against the Bengals this weekend, but the Steelers don’t intend to bring in a veteran running back for the game, head coach Mike Tomlin said today. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), the Steelers would roll primarily with Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman if Williams can’t go.
  • Bears general manager Ryan Pace, who is entering his second year as Chicago’s GM, says that he may have to rely on free agency more in the program’s early stages because of the team’s needs, tweets Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. Hopefully, the GM added, that reliance on free agency will diminish over time.
  • Pace made some other interesting comments during his conversation this week with the media, giving quarterback Jay Cutler a vote of confidence and insisting there’s no rift between the team and tight end Martellus Bennett. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times has the story on the Bears‘ plans to build around Cutler, while Jeff Dickerson of passes along the GM’s comments on Bennett.
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