Every time I write an NFL piece during the offseason, I tend to preface it with something like, “There’s no NFL news right now, but…”
Just wanted to point that out.
Anyway, there’s been some activity in the AFC North this week. OTAs have been conducted, with moderate attendance. A few position battles are starting to sort themselves out. Coaches are still delivering pressers, albeit rather milquetoast ones – there’s a college drinking game to be had in counting the number of times coaches say “we’re monitoring that situation” over the course of a ten-minute Q&A session. Early injuries are recovering, and new ones are cropping up, potentially affecting the regular season. And contract feelers are everywhere (suppresses mild shudder).
Let’s see what’s happening.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has always been a different sort. The news that his mother will be heavily involved in his pending contract negotiations should come as little surprise then. Jackson has never retained an agent and apparently doesn’t plan to do so. Perhaps he simply doesn’t see the wisdom in paying 10% of his salary (at minimum) to a third party for haggling over what should essentially be a slotting mechanism. Between merchandise sales, promotional activities and his unquestionably unique abilities on the field, the Ravens surely know what Jackson’s worth to the franchise is, but it has to be asked: Does Jackson? Does his mother? We’ll find out soon enough.
Rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase and second-year QB Joe Burrow reconnected well during recent minicamps. Given their successful collaboration at LSU that culminated in a national title, this again comes as little surprise. The Bengals’ WR corps is already a cut above the rest of the league, and Burrow’s had a year to mesh with holdovers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, so Chase’s addition almost seems unfair when one considers the youth and years of development this group still has in front of them. The Bengals still have some positions to address on defense to be a true contender, but there’s little question they’ll be improved, and Chase’s progress may be a foremost reason why.
RB Kareem Hunt recently endorsed keeping fellow RB Nick Chubb in the fold in unsubtle fashion. Hunt, whose recovery from his 2018 domestic violence issues has been relatively quiet and non-headline grabbing, is considered starter material in the NFL regardless of his split-carries arrangement with Chubb, and as the article notes, the team would very much like to see both rushers cover the 1,000-yard mark this season. Chubb, as the apparent lead back, will clearly get there if his health allows it, meriting a new deal as apparently his teammate wants. Regardless, this backfield will be daunting for opponents, who will have to contend with the Browns’ progressing offensive line as well as the latest “two-headed monster”.
As reported here and elsewhere, the Steelers have released starting RG David DeCastro and added RG Trai Turner on a one-year, “prove-it” contract, an apparent cost-cutting move that may be anything but when the terms of Turner’s deal, sure to include incentives, are finally released. TribLive’s Tim Benz thinks none of this bodes well for team success in a pending season with nearly-retired QB Ben Roethlisberger, rookie RB Najee Harris and a reshuffled and depleted offensive line all dependent on a first-year offensive coordinator. The Steelers are supposedly going to lean on their running game much more this season with Harris, as ideally, this should reduce pressure on Roethlisberger and allow the defense to carry more weight, but this is, of course, dependent on solid offensive line play. We’ll quickly see how well the shuffle at RG is paying off.
Smile. Relax. Have a beer or something.
Until next time.