Mike Tomlin addressed the contract status of his top running back and is hopeful that the key players being in the same room will bring about a long-awaited resolution to the Le’Veon Bell impasse. The 12th-year Steelers coach believes everyone involved in this process wants this deal finalized.
“Now it’s just about negotiators getting into a room and doing what it is they need to do,” Tomlin told WAVY-TV’s Bruce Rader (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN). “I’m excited and hopeful. Hopefully we’ll have some exciting news before Monday.”
Earlier Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported some late progress has emerged here after previously it was looking like a strong possibility existed of Bell hitting the 2019 free agent market. The deadline for franchise-tagged performers to sign extensions is 3pm CT Monday. If Bell does not reach a deal, he’s not expected to show up at the Steelers’ facility until after the preseason concludes.
Aside from the division-dominating Bell saga, here’s what’s going on in the AFC North heading into training camps:
- After losing Ryan Jensen to the Buccaneers, the Ravens are in need of a new center. Going into camp, the hope is second-year Raven and former UDFA Matt Skura commandeers the job, Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun notes. A Duke product who entered the league two years ago, Skura started 12 games in relief of Marshal Yanda last season at right guard. Pro Football Focus didn’t view those starts as particularly memorable, placing Skura’s 2017 work near the bottom of the guard hierarchy. Lee adds that while Alex Lewis will be tried at left guard, the part-time 2016 Baltimore starter also hovers as a center option.
- A scenario where Tyrod Taylor sees another year in Cleveland by holding off Baker Mayfield into 2019 has been discussed by some this offseason. It just doesn’t seem realistic, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com said (video link). Cabot does not see a scenario that Taylor is on the 2019 Browns, partially because he may have a starting opportunity elsewhere next season as Baker Mayfield ascends to claim the Browns’ job. Even if Taylor leads the Browns to a surprise playoff berth, Cabot can see John Dorsey following his former organization’s example by moving on from the starter that got them there and installing the first-round pick the following year.
- The Steelers drafted James Washington in the second round because they “love” his ability to adjust on deep targets and make contested catches, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes. Washington’s ability to win 50-50 balls will make him credible in an area in which Martavis Bryant didn’t display a reliable skill last season, Benz writes, though conceding the former Oklahoma State star doesn’t have Bryant’s athleticism.