North Notes: Steelers, Browns, Bears, Lions

Le’Veon Bell‘s revelation that he plans to report to the Steelers following their Week 7 bye leads to as many questions as it does answers, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes in a pair of posts. As Florio notes, Pittsburgh will have three options once Bell reports: play him as if nothing ever happened; trade him before the October 30 trade deadline; or rescind Bell’s franchise tender, which wouldn’t lead to any additional draft pick compensation. Additionally, a roster exemption could play a large role in Bell’s return, per Florio. The Steelers will be allowed to use a two-week exemption for Bell once he signs his franchise tag, and club and player will need to agree to the salary Bell will be paid if he’s on the exempt list. If Pittsburgh doesn’t want to pay Bell at his full rate while he’s on the exempt list, Bell could conceivably reinstate his holdout.

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

  • Browns rookie receiver Antonio Callaway today pleaded not guilty to a charge of marijuana possession stemming from an August arrest, tweets Tom Pelissero of Callaway’s lawyer indicated they’ll fight the misdemeanor marijuana charge, but the case doesn’t figure to be resolved for awhile. The NFL, of course, could choose to suspend Callaway regardless of whether he faces legal consequences, but the league will likely let the case play out before taking any action. Unrelatedly, Browns head coach Hue Jackson said today that Callaway’s playing time could be dialed back, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Callway has played the third-most snaps among Cleveland wideouts, producing 10 receptions and 155 yards on 24 targets.
  • After losing Sam Acho for the season, the Bears could theoretically take a look at free agent edge rusher Lamarr Houston, as Ian Rapoport of speculates (Twitter link). The connection makes sense, as Houston spent the 2015-17 seasons in Chicago before landing with the Texans in 2018. Houston landed only five games with the Texans, and was back on the Bears’ roster for the conclusion of the 2018 campaign. The 31-year-old has drawn plenty of interest on the open market despite not yet landing a contract, as he’s worked out for the Vikings, Seahawks, Raiders, and Jets since April.
  • Lions right guard T.J. Lang is in the concussion protocol after suffering a brain injury in Week 4, as Michael Rothstein of writes. This is at least the fifth known concussion for Lang, so the issue is obviously serious in nature, tweets Kyle Meinke of Detroit has heavily invested in its front five in recent seasons, using early picks on Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, and Graham Glasgow while inking free agents Lang and Ricky Wagner. Thus far, the unit ranks second in adjusted sack rate and 15th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders. Veteran Kenny Wiggins filled in for Lang on Sunday and will continue to do so while the latter is sidelined.
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