Officers in Maryland are looking for a not-so-elite criminal.
Anne Arundel County Police poked fun at a suspect's resemblance to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on its Facebook account Thursday. The police posted surveillance photos of a bearded man who used a stolen credit card at a local convenience store and noted a similarity to the 2012 Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
"We know how you all are, before you start, it isn't Joe Flacco. But who is it? Help us ID," the police posted on Facebook.
In looking at the three pictures posted, there's only one -- a profile shot -- where the suspect looks anything like Flacco. There's not much resemblance in the other two photos.
Flacco doesn't have much reason to resort to a life of crime. He signed a six-year, $120.6 million contract in March 2013, an NFL record contract at the time. Flacco is scheduled to make $4 million this season.
The post on the police's Facebook account has been shared over 500 times. There has been no announcement of an arrest.
Perhaps, the police are searching for James Flacco.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: James Harrison. Can I end my answer there? Seriously, until he finally retires, Harrison will always be the most feared and intimidating player on his team’s defense. Maybe it’s the black visor. I dunno. Maybe it’s the 1,000 pounds he can squat. I dunno. Maybe it’s the five-mile stare he has that cuts through cameras and notepads and the chests of opposing quarterbacks. I dunno. Whatever it is that makes him so respected around the league will keep him that way until his career officially ends. It will be interesting to see how productive Harrison will be now that beloved longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is in Tennessee.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens: Let’s go old school with Harrison. Sure, this is going to raise eyebrows because Harrison is 37 and actually retired last year. But there is something that happens to Harrison when he plays the Ravens. He somehow turns back the clock to 2004 and wreaks havoc. The numbers tell the whole story. Since 2004, Harrison has 13 sacks against the Ravens. No other player has more than 8.5 against Baltimore over that time. He didn’t do this damage five or six years ago. Harrison recorded two sacks against the Ravens last season in his only game against them. He has always carried a chip on his shoulder because the Ravens cut him before training camp even began. It probably didn’t sit well with him that the Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil while Harrison was making his free-agent visit at the Ravens facility. History says Harrison is the Steelers' most feared defensive player.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: Excellent question. There aren’t a lot of names that jump right out, which is interesting for a Steelers unit that always seems to have somebody. Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree play the "feared" outside linebacker spots, but they have not arrived yet. It would be tempting to go with Harrison (especially in Cleveland), but he’s on the back nine. The best name to go with: Cameron Heyward. Yes, he’s an end in a 3-4 scheme, but from that spot he had 7 1/2 sacks and played well enough to be ranked as the sixth-best end in a 3-4 scheme, per ProFootballFocus.com. Heyward also has been around long enough to understand the Steelers way.
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT for NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast 61 as we check in on the contract status of several franchise quarterbacks.
Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by three other NFL Nation reporters in the 60-minute show.
Colts signal-caller Andrew Luck might have something to say about that going forward, though, and Wells will fill us in on the latest from Luck’s camp.
And Eric Williams (San Diego Chargers reporter) will update us on Philip Rivers' feelings after being linked to trade talks during the draft, and if he’d take his bolo tie up Interstate 5 to Los Angeles, should the Chargers relocate.
Today's question: Andy Dalton has made the playoffs each of his first four seasons, but as Cincinnati Bengals fans are all too aware, he's 0-for-4 in those opportunities. Is there reason to believe this year will be different if the Bengals make the playoffs again?
Jeremy Fowler, Steelers: No. Starting nearly 70 games between the regular season and playoffs is an awfully big sample size. His identity is pretty much set -- he's in the 15-to-20 range among NFL quarterbacks. He's there with Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith. And that's OK. You can win games with that. You can get to the playoffs. You can't win there. There's little evidence Dalton will reach that next tier, where Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan and Eli Manning live. Dalton's playoff failures are a launching point for critics, but his yardage and touchdown totals dipped in 2014, when he seemed primed for a jump. He's averaged close to 17 interceptions a season since 2010, which the top quarterbacks can get away with during bad years because they can carry their teams to wins. Middle-of-the-road quarterbacks can't. If the Bengals find a playoff breakthrough, it will be because of the running game and defense.
Jamison Hensley, Ravens: Not really. Dalton hasn't lost in the playoffs. He's melted down. His 0-4 record in the postseason has been the result of not stepping up on the big stage. Dalton has been more than serviceable in the regular season, and it's admirable he's been to the playoffs in each of his four seasons. But he looks like a different quarterback in the playoffs. Dalton has thrown one touchdown and six interceptions in the postseason, despite having more offensive weapons around him than Joe Flacco. It will sound like I'm picking on Dalton, but there are certain quarterbacks who can't get over the hump in the postseason, like Matt Ryan (1-4 in playoffs) and Tony Romo (2-4). This is a division where quarterbacks are measured by championships, not Pro Bowls. Just ask Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger.
Pat McManamon, Browns: Sure. Yes. Absolutely. He just has to do it. Dalton is caught in the vortex of the modern era, when being successful is not good enough. Dalton has been to the playoffs four years in a row. He's thrown 99 touchdowns and 66 interceptions. And he's thrown for over 3,300 yards every season. Yet he's a failure because he hasn't won a playoff game? Dalton is young. He's developing. It takes time. The only thing he has to do is win the first, then more will follow. In Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu, he has weapons. Dalton deserves some slack.
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers: Brandon Williams will say yes, which is why I say yes: because I believe in Williams as an early-down run-stuffer. Pro Football Focus rated Williams at plus-15.6 overall, highest among nose tackles and 10th-best among defensive tackles. Watching Williams’ activity live is a better barometer of his ability than a stat line (47 tackles, two forced fumbles, 0.5 sacks). Ngata was a stalwart for nine seasons, but Williams made the Ravens’ decision to lowball Ngata a prudent one. Young front seven guys C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan also will be crucial for the Ravens' run defense, but expect Williams to be a productive tackle on first and second down, possibly third. And don’t forget about the drafting of Iowa tackle Carl Davis, a load at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, in the third round.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: No, the Ravens will not have a top-10 run defense this season. This will be a year of transition in that regard as Tim Jernigan starts adapting to life as the young up-and-comer in Baltimore’s line. He’ll get the Ravens back to those years of top-10, top-five rush defenses in time. But this season, it won’t happen. Besides, even with a healthy Ngata in 2012 and 2013, Baltimore didn’t have a top-10 rush defense either of those seasons. Nose tackle Brandon Williams figures to play a key role in the Ravens’ success against the run again, though. He ranked second among league tackles in Pro Football Focus’ run-stop percentage. Having to play seven games against six teams that were among the league’s top 15 rushing offenses last season won’t make matters easy for Baltimore this season, either.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: Yes, though it won’t be easy. In Ngata's nine seasons in Baltimore, the Ravens' defense allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league and the second-fewest rushing yards. But Baltimore survived Ngata’s four-game suspension at the end of last season, and they feel Brandon Williams is ready. Pro Football Focus ranked Williams the 10th-best defensive tackle in the NFL last season. Replacing a guy like Ngata does not happen easily, but Ozzie Newsome drafts well and rarely hangs on to a player too long. The Ravens will be fine.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: This is a tough question, mainly because I don’t think there are many similarities with respect to Roethlisberger and Flacco. They are at slightly different stages of their careers. At 33, Roethlisberger is older and closer to retirement. At 30, Flacco possesses more promise for continuing to play five years from now. Though Roethlisberger looks like he could play until he’s 38 right now, you never know how a quarterback’s body will hold up once he starts getting into his mid-30s -- particularly a quarterback who has endured the bruising Roethlisberger has over the years. Sure, he’s larger than some defensive ends and linebackers, but Roethlisberger still has been put through a ringer of injuries. Then again, Roethlisberger also has the better and more stable supporting cast at the playmaking positions. He is part of a franchise that knows what it takes to not only get back to the Super Bowl, but to win it. Although Flacco appears to have more definite long-term potential, I’m picking Roethlisberger because of who he has around him.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens: Roethlisberger will be the more productive quarterback, but Flacco will be the more successful one over the next five years. There’s no questioning that Roethlisberger has the stronger supporting cast on offense. Few quarterbacks have the likes of receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. Roethlisberger should throw for more than 4,000 yards and close to 30 touchdowns in each of the next five seasons. The transition on defense will be a challenge for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next couple of seasons. Flacco has proven he can withstand change in his supporting cast, including the loss of future Hall of Fame defenders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Before you start chanting "homer," let’s look at the past three seasons for these quarterbacks. Roethlisberger is 26-19 (.578) with no playoff wins, and Flacco is 28-20 (.583) with five postseason victories. Advantage, Flacco.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: Not even close. Roethlisberger. Start with the fact he’s been basically operating in the same system for years and that he has great leeway in making play calls at the line. Continue with the receiving corps, anchored by one of the best in the league in Brown and with two fine young players in Sammie Coates and Martavis Bryant, then add in the playmaking of Bell and it’s obvious Roethlisberger has more around him. Then come the abilities of Roethlisberger. He’s averaged 27 touchdowns the past four seasons and has topped 4,000 yards in three of the past four, highlighted by last season’s total of 4,952 yards. Flacco is very good. Roethlisberger is special.
With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Cleveland Browns' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: When a team has a glaring need and makes a move to fill it, the team deserves credit. The Browns were the NFL’s worst team at stopping the run last season. That was true even though the Browns believe in their players and believe in their system. To address the situation, the Browns added the nose tackle they’ve lacked: Danny Shelton of Washington. Shelton missed OTAs to finish his academic work at Washington, so he’ll need to jump into things during camp. If he can plug the middle like the Browns hope, a weakness could be erased.
Riskiest move: Signing a 36-year-old quarterback and adding a new coordinator and new receivers brings huge challenges to the offense. The Browns aren’t just starting over, they are starting over with the coach who leads the offense, the guy who calls the signals and the receivers who catch his passes. History has shown the challenges involved in this, and when the quarterback is Josh McCown, a guy who lost 10 of 11 starts in 2014, the challenge seems greater. The Browns built their defense on system and players. Their offense is built on hope.
Receiving (non)move: The Browns ignored the wide receiver spot in the draft last season when they knew Josh Gordon would be suspended. They ignored the receiver spot in the draft until the fourth round this season even though Gordon already had been suspended. The team added starting receivers via free agency in Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline and drafted a big, strong guy in Vince Mayle. But they still lack a big-play, speed guy. The receiving corps last season was a strength for 10 games, then could not sustain the production. Whether that group has improved enough to help a new quarterback will be closely watched.
Training camp outlook: The big question for the Browns as they head to training camp is the same one they’ve had as they’ve headed to training camp every season since 1999: What about the quarterback? The Browns have given the keys to McCown, and they’ve not hesitated to build him up. McCown is a tremendous individual and great to have on a team. He looked sharp in his throws and reads in minicamp. How he plays over the course of a 16-game season remains to be seen. The Browns headed to the offseason with McCown clearly ahead of Johnny Manziel -- and with continued uncertainty about the most important position on the team.
With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Pittsburgh Steelers' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: Signing running back DeAngelo Williams to a two-year, $4 million deal. This move had to be made. Le'Veon Bell is missing three games, and the Steelers couldn't open the season with Dri Archer and Josh Harris at running back. Williams has a starter's pedigree and comes to Pittsburgh on a low-risk contract. He can be a reliable early-down option for the Steelers but doesn't have to carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game because the offense is so stocked. Ben Roethlisbergerthrew the ball 38 times a game last season, a career high. Williams still has explosion left, notching 58 rushes of at least 20 yards in 1,432 career carries. The Steelers will need some of that burst, and Williams has assured he can give it. Williams averages less than 20 catches a year as a receiver, so the Steelers would like to see that clip rise while Bell's out.
Riskiest move: Pittsburgh eschewed the cornerback market and failed to draft one in the first round of the 2015 draft. The Steelers took Senquez Golson in the second round, and he has a future as the team's slot cover in zone coverage. But the team took pass-rusher Bud Dupree at No. 22 overall over corner Byron Jones, who is athletic and has ideal build for the position. Dupree might be a great pick, but corner was an obvious need that wasn't addressed on the draft's first day or in free agency, where several impact players were available. The Steelers are basically saying "we're good enough" with the maligned-but-talented Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake (one career start) and William Gay. If Allen cleans up his 2014 performance and Blake turns his offseason flashes into success, then they will look smart. But the risk is obvious.
Depth at receiver impressive: Sammie Coates has athleticism that shows up when watching him live, he knows how to finish a play and aims to redirect the drops label that followed him at Auburn. And the third-round pick could have a hard time seeing the field in 2015. The Steelers are much more than Antonio Brown at receiver, with Martavis Bryant building off a 21-yards-per-catch rookie performance and Markus Wheaton, who caught 53 passes in 2014, potentially moving to the slot. And don't forget about Darrius Heyward-Bey, a veteran with raw speed. Heath Miller is still good for 55 to 60 catches a year, or else the Steelers would have drafted a tight end higher than the fifth round. Roethlisberger will have more passing game options than he's ever had.
Training camp outlook: The Steelers' biggest questions remain on defense, which must be answered -- can only be answered -- in camp. The offense had the edge for much of offseason workouts, and though a few young players emerged (Blake and Shamarko Thomas, according to teammates), the Steelers need to see who's ready to hit once the pads go on. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones had some good moments in May and June. He should take advantage of the momentum. The offense should feel very good about where it's headed. While the team needs a No. 2 receiver, Bryant and Wheaton both appear ready to fulfill that need. The offensive line wants to lead a top-10 rushing offense.
With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Cincinnati Bengals' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: Michael Johnson's free-agency return was the highlight of a mostly boring offseason for the Bengals. A team that returned 20 starters at its 22 offensive and defensive positions, the Bengals really didn't have much to do in the way of adding players from the outside. Their offseason hinged in large part on the re-signing of kicker Mike Nugent, offensive guard Clint Boling and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. Once those moves were made, the Bengals' top priority was to get a good pass-rusher who could aid a defensive line that was among the league's worst the past season. Johnson, a 2009 third-round Bengals pick, ended up being that addition. In the one year he spent away from Cincinnati (with the Buccaneers), the Bengals collected a league-worst 20 sacks. They didn't have a true No. 2 pass-rusher to pair with Carlos Dunlap, but now they do.
Riskiest move: It's hard to qualify any of the Bengals' moves as risky. They didn't have many they absolutely had to make this year, thanks to solid returning depth. Perhaps the riskiest moves were at quarterback. Terrelle Pryor's signing and subsequent controversial release last week caught a lot of attention. That clearly didn't pan out. Cincinnati was looking for the former Ohio State star to compete with AJ McCarron for the top backup quarterback job. Before being waived, Pryor was the Bengals' fourth-string signal-caller. Also risky was the decision to bring back Josh Johnson, the current No. 3 quarterback, who apparently won't be taking any meaningful snaps for Cincinnati this year. It will be good to have a third arm around for training camp, but that's about all the use the Bengals appear to have for Johnson.
Getting healthy: Free agency and a good, depth-building draft aside, what made the Bengals' offseason most successful was they got healthier and maintained that health through organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert were among those who fully recovered from injuries that held them out nearly all of the past season. Eifert suited up for eight plays in the season opener before dislocating an elbow. That injury, along with a shoulder issue, sidelined him all year. Jones never made it on the field for a game after suffering multiple foot and ankle injuries in the offseason and preseason. Both were impressive during this year's OTAs and minicamp, though. Offensive tackle Andre Smith was another starter who recovered from a late-season triceps issue. Only rookie Cedric Ogbuehi (ACL) and linebacker Vontaze Burfict (microfracture surgery on his knee) appear to be question marks entering training camp.
Training camp outlook: If the Bengals get Burfict back at some point during training camp, they'll be as close to full strength entering the season as they could hope to be. It's doubtful they will have him back that quickly, though, as they are trying to remain patient with his return from a serious January knee surgery. There's a possibility he could begin the year on the physically unable to perform list. Otherwise, the roster is pretty well set. There will be battles later this summer at cornerback (where it appears Dre Kirkpatrick holds a slight advantage over Darqueze Dennard), receiver (can Jones beat out Mohamed Sanu for No. 2 receiver duties?) and defensive tackle (eight players are vying for possibly four spots).
With the offseason workouts and minicamps in the rearview mirror and training camp just a few weeks away, we assess the Baltimore Ravens' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: Upgrading the secondary. The Ravens didn't have the salary-cap room to make a splash with players such as Darrelle Revis, but they did enough to improve the weakest part of the team. Baltimore signed Houston Texans free-agent safety Kendrick Lewis, whose range in the secondary is a much better fit than last year's starter Darian Stewart. The Ravens also added New England Patriots nickelback Kyle Arrington, who might be the most underrated signing in the division. Baltimore had to address the secondary after last season, when the Ravens allowed an average of 288.6 yards passing in losses (fourth-worst in the NFL). The Ravens also gave up a franchise-worst 4,341 yards passing -- 226 more than any other defense in the team's 19-year history -- and allowed a 64.2 percent completion rate, which was second-worst in team history. It was essential that the Ravens brought in better cover men.
Riskiest move: Drafting Breshad Perriman in the first round. Perriman might end up being the Ravens' leading receiver this season and become the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. That said, the Ravens' draft history at this position makes it a risk. The Ravens have won two Super Bowls by their ability to draft future All-Pros at nearly every position except wide receiver. Out of the 21 wide receivers drafted by the Ravens -- their most at any position in their history -- there have been no Pro Bowl players and just one 1,000-yard receiving season (Torrey Smith in 2013). Over that same period, the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only teams without 1,000-yard seasons from drafted wide receivers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Ravens are banking on Perriman to become more of an impact player than the previous two receivers drafted in the first round by the Ravens, Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton. As far as first impressions go, Perriman has been up and down in offseason camps.
Toughest move: Trading Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions. The Ravens wanted to sign the five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman to an extension, but the sides couldn't reach a deal that would allow him to play his entire career with the team. It was a move that the Ravens didn't want to make. Ngata was a major reason why Baltimore allowed the second-fewest rushing yards since 2006, when the Ravens drafted the 340-pound run stuffer. Unable to absorb Ngata's $16 million cap number for 2015, the Ravens sent him and a seventh-round pick to the Lions for fourth- and fifth-round picks, which were used to draft pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith and became part of a deal that allowed Baltimore to move up to select tight end Maxx Williams in the second round. The key part of parting ways with Ngata was creating $8.5 million in salary-cap room. That extra space helped Baltimore re-sign running back Justin Forsett and extend the contract of cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Training camp outlook:: The Ravens don't have many question marks, which is a sign of a good offseason. It's easy to predict starters for every position except tight end, and that's because of the uncertainty with Dennis Pitta. He hasn't been cleared to practice, and he'll likely begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The Ravens haven't written off Pitta playing in 2015, but his availability for Week 1 will depend on whether he can participate in training camp. The only other starters with injury concerns are cornerback Smith (knee) and right tackle Rick Wagner (foot), both of whom are coming off season-ending surgeries. Smith fully participated in mandatory minicamp, which is a good indication that he'll be ready for the start of training camp. The Ravens are taking a more conservative approach with Wagner, who didn't practice at any organized team activity this spring. This isn't surprising because coach John Harbaugh previously indicated that Wagner's targeted return is training camp.
Today's question: Jeremy Hill emerged as the Bengals' featured back as a rookie last year, and though offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said there will be a balanced attack, division foes will still have to find a way to stop Hill. How will they do it?
Jeremy Fowler, Steelers: Hill is a rhythm runner. He failed to eclipse 60 yards in four of six AFC North games, but when he did, he exploded, with a combined 248 yards on the Steelers and Browns in December. Defenses would be smart to stop him early in games and take away his steam. Other than that, the unscientific method is to force him east to west, stuff eight in the box and hope for the best. The Ravens have been a top-10 rushing defense for much of the past decade, so they might have the most favorable matchup against Hill, who had 44 yards in two games against Baltimore. But Hill is a beast who will eventually get his -- 929 of his 1,124 yards came in his final nine games, good enough for an average of 103.2 yards per game. He enters 2015 with serious momentum.
Jamison Hensley, Ravens: The Ravens have historically been one of the toughest defenses to run against. In fact, in 19 seasons as a franchise, the Ravens have never allowed 4 yards per carry. The Ravens also haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 26 games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Those marks will be put to the test this year because the Ravens traded Haloti Ngata. The defense still starts up front, and the Bengals’ interior line of Russell Bodine, Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling will have problems against nose tackle Brandon Williams and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. As far as Hill, he was a nonfactor in two games against Baltimore. He totaled 44 yards rushing on 14 carries, for a 3.1-yard average.
Pat McManamon, Browns: Teams are more aware of him -- and of how good he is -- this season, not that anybody is ever a complete surprise. Stopping him is another matter. Hill might find this season in the division to his liking. Haloti Ngata is no longer in Baltimore. Pittsburgh’s defense is in transition. Cleveland has serious run-stopping issues. With the commitment to the run from Bengals coordinator Hue Jackson, Hill could very well be in the conversation about the division MVP -- and a huge help to A.J. Green as well.
Most NFL analysts agree the Cleveland Browns need receivers.
Monday the team added Terrelle Pryor, claiming him on waivers from the Bengals. Pryor is a project, a former quarterback just cut by Cincinnati, and a guy who has never played receiver. He declared one month ago that “If I can't play quarterback I can't play football.”
There's no risk in the move. Pryor will be one of 90 working in training camp, and he'll be re-united with John DeFilippo. The Browns offensive coordinator was Pryor's quarterback coach in Oakland when he started nine games at quarterback.
DeFilippo also was instrumental in the Browns adding Josh McCown, who enters training camp as the team's starting quarterback.
Pryor will not work at quarterback. He will compete to make the team at receiver, a move he made when the Bengals released him after he spent one month with the team.
The reason for the release: According to ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey, Pryor had dropped to fourth-team quarterback behind Josh Johnson and far behind backup AJ McCarron. Pryor also angered the Bengals by posting video of the team's minicamp on one of his social media accounts.
The Bengals ban videos and filming during their live work, and Pryor posted from the full team drills to his Twitter account. The videos were soon removed.
Some players have made the switch from quarterback to receiver successfully. Among them are Ronald Curry (of North Carolina and the Raiders) and Antwaan Randle El (of Indiana and the Steelers). Both were successful at receiver -- Randle El even threw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl -- though were far from All-Pros. But both made the switch immediately upon joining their NFL team.
Josh Cribs played quarterback at Kent State and set records returning kicks for the Browns. Eric Mangini put him at receiver, where the results were mixed, at best (41 receptions, 518 yards, four touchdowns in 2011).
Pryor is making the move after spending three years trying to play quarterback in Oakland, and after being traded to Seattle, and then going to Kansas City and Cincinnati.
In the offseason the Browns addressed the receiver position by signing Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline as free agents. They drafted Vince Mayle in the fourth round. Mayle reported with a broken wrist that needed surgery. Now they've claimed Shane Wynn on waivers from Atlanta and Pryor on waivers from the Bengals.
It's the classic flyer. Take a 6-5 guy and see what he can do. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
But the addition of Pryor will do little to change the opinion of folks who believe the position is the team's biggest weakness.
Today's question: Joe Flacco isn't the flashiest quarterback in the NFL, but he's come up big in the biggest games and is considered a "superstar" by Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh. However, some people still believe he's overrated and overpaid. We take a look at whether he belongs in the top 10 among NFL quarterbacks.
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers: Yes, yes and yes. Make a case for six to eight quarterbacks better than Flacco and I will listen. But I'm not buying 10, particularly arguments involving fringe guys Tony Romo and Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. The strength of Flacco’s argument lies with the playoffs. Four active starters have quarterbacked at least 15 playoff games: Flacco, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Flacco’s 88.6 QB rating in the playoffs is higher than Manning’s 88.5 and Roethlisberger’s 83.3. His 2.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio (25-to-10) is higher than all three by a wide margin, though Flacco’s 215 yards per game in the postseason is the lowest of the four. Oh, and Flacco is 10-5 in those games. He doesn’t always light up the regular season, but he spends that time figuring out what works in the playoffs. If I needed 10 quarterbacks to win 10 games, Flacco would make the list.
Coley Harvey, Cincinnati Bengals: Let’s see, you’ve got (in no particular order): Peyton Manning, Brady, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and maybe Philip Rivers in the top-10 mix. Hmmm. Yeah, I’d say Flacco is part of that company, too. Maybe he’s in the lower portion of the top 10, but he’s up there. I mean, the guy has won a Super Bowl, after all. Since he was drafted in 2008, Flacco ranks exactly 10th in the league in passing yards with 25,531. Yes, Jay Cutler is right behind him at 11th, and Cutler hasn’t been on the types of teams Flacco has been. Which leads to the big rebuttal about Flacco’s top-10 status: that he has benefited from a great defense. True, having Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs helped. But weren’t the Ravens ranked 17th in total defense in the 2012 season when they won the Super Bowl? An elite quarterback was needed to help overcome those defensive woes and still win the Lombardi Trophy.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns: Flacco was 16th in quarterback rating last season but eighth in Total QBR. That sums up his status as right near the top 10 but not quite there. The best way to answer is to go down the list. Brady, Peyton Manning, Luck and Rodgers are in a class of their own. Roethlisberger is close, and Romo has been outstanding. There’s the top six. The next four come from a large group that includes Brees, Rivers, Wilson, Ryan, Cam Newton and Flacco. I put Rivers, Wilson, Newton and Brees as the seven through 10. Which puts Flacco 11th, just out of the top 10.
NFL Nation reporter Coley Harvey assesses which rookies on the Bengals could earn a starting berth this season.
Why Mario Alford could start: Let's preface all of this by saying all of the drafted and undrafted players the Bengals added to their roster this offseason will have a tough time cracking the team's starting rotation. Without having lost many key veterans to free agency and retirement, Cincinnati brings back one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. That said, Alford stands as good a chance to start as any of the rookies simply because he has something that can't be learned, nor taught: speed. Clocked with a sub-4.3-second 40-yard dash time during his pro day, the receiver possesses a quickness that had Bengals coaches intrigued right away. Although a seventh-round pick, Alford's versatility as a runner, receiver and special-teams returner makes him a logical fit as an occasional contributor to the Bengals' offense. Can he really break through, though? A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and James Wright should occupy the first four spots, but along with Alford, there are five other players competing for likely two other receiver jobs.
Why Jake Fisher could start: While Alford's playmaking ability gives him the best chance of starting, Fisher might actually be the rookie who has the most opportunities to start. Injuries can occur often on the offensive line, meaning the offensive tackle has good odds to enter in relief at some point this year. Right tackle Andre Smith, for example, missed seven games last season to injuries. Fisher's versatility also works in his favor. In addition to playing both tackle positions during spring practices, he also lined up at left guard and as a extra blocker in unbalanced line sets. If anyone on the offensive line goes down, he certainly will be one of the first ones off the bench. If it's a starting tackle who misses time, Eric Winston likely would be the first to relieve him. But if two tackles are forced out of the rotation, expect to see Fisher come in, too. A second-round pick, Fisher was actually the second lineman the Bengals picked. First-round tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was injured in a December bowl game (torn ACL), Ogbuehi doesn't stand much of a chance to start this season as he slowly continues rehab.
Why C.J. Uzomah could start: Honestly, we could have picked any of three Bengals draft picks to be the last player on this list of potential rookie starters. Third-round tight end Tyler Kroft and third-round linebacker P.J. Dawson had solid college careers and play positions in which the Bengals are currently in need of some help. With Vontaze Burfict's recovery from offseason microfracture surgery still coming along slowly, Cincinnati could have an opening for a starting "Will" linebacker. Until Burfict is able to join the team -- possibly after the season has started -- A.J. Hawk and Vincent Rey appear to be the most likely candidates to take his place, not Dawson. Playing time issues also affect Kroft. Although coaches have expressed confidence in their tight ends' performances this spring, few of the tight ends have looked impressive, other than Tyler Eifert, during open practices. Although still comparatively raw, Uzomah -- a fifth-round selection -- seems to have a better handle on things than Kroft, who dropped his share of passes during organized team activities and minicamp. Because the Bengals likely will employ some two-tight end sets, look for Kroft, Uzomah (or even undrafted rookie Matt Lengel) to be among the rookies who potentially get playing time this year.