Joe D'Alessandris

AFC North Notes: Osweiler, Steelers, Ravens

The Browns and Texans’ historic trade did send a second-round pick to Cleveland, but Brock Osweiler remains on the payroll after the team tried to trade him for more draft picks. This leaves Osweiler in an uncertain place despite the sixth-year quarterback working with the Browns at OTAs. However, one NFL executive believes the team will still find a way to unload Osweiler.

I think they still will flip him,” the anonymous exec said, via Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider link). “I think they are going to pay even more of his salary where he is only, say, a $2MM player, and then they will trade him for something. This is Plan B. Plan A was to take his salary down to $8MM and trade him right away. Plan C is that he is on their team or they just outright cut him. That could very much happen.”

This exec paints a grim portrait of Osweiler’s future in northeast Ohio. The Browns have been impressed with their unique trade acquisition so far, and Osweiler is competing for the starting job with Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer. But Cleveland still was keen on unloading the 26-year-old passer, and taking on plenty of Osweiler’s $16MM salary to do it. The Browns have been unable to do so yet but have more than $60MM in cap space, so a prospective deal wouldn’t be out of the question this year. But one could well depend on a team’s injury situation at quarterback come training camp, along with the portion of the quarterback’s salary the Browns would agree to pay and what kind of draft compensation they now want.

Here’s the latest coming out of the AFC North as minicamps approach.

  • In the same Sando piece, an NFL personnel director questioned the Steelers‘ hesitance at trying to keep up with the Patriots this offseason. Perhaps the top AFC challenger to New England, Pittsburgh did not make moves in free agency or on the trade market, calling this anonymous exec to question the franchise’s traditional, build-from-within approach. “Pittsburgh never seems to make the big impact move,” the exec said. “They seem to just keep trying to get guys who fit into their locker room or fit into their scheme. It is almost like they are a little bit of plug-and-play and not really willing to stretch out and put themselves out there.” The Steelers did add wideout weaponry but did so through the draft (second-rounder JuJu Smith-Schuster) and via Martavis Bryant‘s reinstatement. Otherwise, the team is similar to its 2016 edition.
  • The costs to keep the trio of Le’Veon Bell, Stephon Tuitt and Alejandro Villanueva could cost the Steelers well north of $100MM collectively, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. The Pittsburgh-based reporter slots Bell’s deal as the highest priority, Tuitt’s as the player who wouldn’t need to be re-signed right away, and Villanueva as the wild card in this equation in being an ERFA that could hold out after a months-long negotiation. The Steelers have the July 15 franchise tag deadline with Bell but could let Tuitt’s talks slip into August, Fowler notes. The fourth-year defensive end is under contract at $1.47MM for 2017 before his rookie deal expires. Tuitt wants to stay in Pittsburgh but will be a costly cog to retain. The Steelers possess $16.3MM in cap space.
  • The Ravens are shifting to a more power-based run scheme under new offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Edward Lee. Baltimore used zone principles under Juan Castillo, who is now working as the Bills’ O-line coach.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Mangini, Rams

The 49ers have not interviewed any candidates yet nor scheduled any, GM Trent Baalke told reporters, including Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter). He added that there are no in-house candidates at this time which is interesting given the presence of defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. Geep Chryst, the team’s offensive coordinator, has had head coaching buzz in the past, but his stock isn’t terribly high after a dismal 2015 season in San Francisco.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • While keeping option open at the position, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said that quarterback Case Keenum will enter the 2016 season as the starter at quarterback, Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch tweets.
  • Fisher also said that team intends to bring in competition for kicker Greg Zuerlein, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets. Zuerlein is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Fisher liked the job Rob Boras did as offensive coordinator, but has not made a decision yet on whether Boras will keep the job, Thomas tweets. Fisher indicated that there could be coaching staff changes made this offseason.
  • In addition to offensive coordinator Frank Reich, the Chargers announced that offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, wide receiver coach Fred Graves, defensive line coach Don Johnson, and tight end coach Pete Metzelaars have been let go.