Around the AFC North Division, 3/19

ITEM: Holmgren laments missing out on Rams' pick
A story last week in the Plain-Dealer detailed a conference call that Browns President Mike Holmgren had with the team's season-ticket holders in which he addressed a variety of topics and complained about St. Louis trading the second overall pick in the upcoming draft to the Washington Redskins.

"I'm not going to tell you exactly what we offered, but I will say what we had offered for the pick was every bit the offer that was chosen," Holmgren told the season-ticket holders, according to the Plain-Dealer. "There are reasons I can't go into right now why it didn't happen, but there's a very close relationship between the people that were involved in getting the deal done, and the people eventually got it done. I'm not sure if any offer we made at the end of the day was going to be quite good enough."

It's possible Holmgren was referring to the friendship between Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and Rams coach Jeff Fisher and the ties between Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen and Rams executive Kevin Demoff.

To get the second overall pick in a trade with the Rams, the Redskins sent three first-round draft picks – the No. 6 overall pick this year and first-round choices in 2013 and 2014 – and their second-round pick this year (No. 39 overall) to St. Louis. The Browns reportedly also offered three No. 1 picks, but the Plain-Dealer reported that it never has been established if they threw in a second-round choice.

"Most of the stories that I have seen, quite honestly all the stories that I have seen, were incorrect," Holmgren said of the Browns' offer, but he did not offer anything further on the subject.

During the call, Holmgren hinted that the Browns will add weapons with their first-round picks instead of a quarterback. He and General Manager Tom Heckert, who also took questions during the hour-long call, spoke often of Colt McCoy as the likely starter next year.

"We do think Colt has a big ceiling," said Heckert. "Obviously, it's my job to get better players surrounding him. If you look back at those games where we ran the football well, we protected well, Colt played very well, so we do think Colt has the ability to play. I think he's proven that he can play in this league."

Holmgren indicated the Browns will draft a quarterback, but maybe not in the first or second rounds.

"We will always look for a young guy in the draft," he said. "Now, where we pick him, it could be later in the draft. Then, if there's someone in free agency that's very, very attractive to us, yeah, we'll bring him in and talk to him, always."

ITEM: Ravens lose Grubbs, Nakamura, Zbikowski
The New Orleans Saints reacted to the loss of starting guard Carl Nicks by plucking Ben Grubbs from the Baltimore Ravens. Then later in the week Carolina General Marty Hurney said the Panthers signed safety Haruki Nakamura, a productive special teams player interested in more playing time on defense. Ironically, Tom Zbikowski, another Ravens safety fighting for playing time alongside Ed Reed, then signed a three-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Zbikowski, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Baltimore, joined former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis. Pagano had been hired to replace Jim Caldwell. Nakamura, 26 in April, has been in the league for four seasons but never started a game on defense.

Also heading to Indianapolis to reunite with Pagano is defensive end Cory Redding via a reported three-year, $10.5 million contract.

A recent report in the Baltimore Sun claimed the Ravens are intent
on giving some of their younger players opportunities to step into more prominent roles. Pernell McPhee, who had six sacks and 23 tackles during his rookie season, could step into Redding's role, though Arthur Jones could get an opportunity as well.

The Ravens are looking to add a pass rusher opposite Terrell Suggs, but their in-house options to replace Jarrett Johnson are Paul Kruger and Sergio Kindle, who hasn't been able to get on the field much since being a No. 2 pick in 2010.

At the end of the 2011 season, it was reported that starting center Matt Birk might consider retiring, but he has re-signed with the Ravens. Birk, who will be 36 on July 23, has started all 48 regular season games since joining the Ravens for the 2009 season.

ITEM: Comings and goings in Cleveland
Pro Football Talk reported the Browns re-signed cornerback Dimitri Patterson to a three-year, $16 million contract, and NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported the team agreed to terms with defensive end Juqua Parker on a one-year deal with a maximum value of $3 million.

But those signings were offset by the loss of starting safety Michael Adams to Denver.

Patterson, 29 in June, was the Browns' nickel corner last season, when Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown were the starting cornerbacks. Parker is the second defensive end signed by Cleveland during the free agency period, with Frostee Rucker being the other. Parker, 34 in May, had 1.5 sacks in 12 games with Philadelphia last season.

The Browns re-signed veteran offensive lineman Oniel Cousins, but they lost 10-year veteran guard Artis Hicks to the Miami Dolphins.

ITEM: Livings replaced by Wharton; Nelson stays
On Saturday, the Cincinnati Bengals announced the signing of guard Travelle Wharton, entering his ninth year in the league, to replace Nate Livings, the starter for the last three seasons who signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bengals also have retained starting safety Reggie Nelson, who also was weighing an offer from the New York Jets, and they signed cornerback Jason Allen, a former No. 1 pick who most recently played with the Houston Texans.

Said offensive line coach Paul Alexander of Wharton: "Not only is he a good starting left guard, he also provides backup help at left tackle."

Allen was drafted by Miami in 2006 before going to Houston on waivers midway through the 2010 season. He started four games for the Texans and had 45 tackles, 11 passes defensed and shared the team lead with four interceptions.

Allen's arrival also gives the Bengals a veteran corner. After Leon Hall and Nate Clements, the only other two under contract were Rico Murray and Brandon Ghee.

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