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Late for Work 1/29: Could Deshaun Watson End Up in the AFC North?

Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Steelers Mentioned As Potential Destination for Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson reportedly has requested a trade from the Houston Texans, prompting pundits to speculate on the best landing spots for the Pro Bowl quarterback, and fans to dream about him playing for their squad.

ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said there are only six teams who shouldn't make a call to the Texans about Watson: the Chiefs, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Bills, Chargers and Packers. Fox Sports' Geoff Schwartz had an even shorter list, which consisted of four of Orlovsky's teams, but not the Buccaneers and Chargers.

Seriously? The astounding disrespect for Lamar Jackson apparently knows no bounds.

Unless Watson ends up in Minnesota, it's safe to say he won't be wearing purple next season. However, the possibility that Watson could end up in the AFC North isn't quite as far-fetched.

Obviously, the Cincinnati Bengals are set with last year's No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow. It's hard to imagine the Cleveland Browns parting with Baker Mayfield after he led them to their first playoff win since 1994 (even though one Browns writer said the team should consider the possibility).

That leaves the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are the only team in the division without a young franchise quarterback.

Ben Roethlisberger, who turns 39 in March, told The Athletic's Ed Bouchette that he wants to return to the team next season and is willing to take a pay cut. Meanwhile, Steelers owner Art Rooney II told Pittsburgh reporters yesterday that he'd "like to see Ben back for another year if that can work, but as we've said, there's a lot of work to be done to see if that can happen."

With that said, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr ranked the Steelers as the fourth-most likely destination for Watson.

"If culture is indeed one of the largest draws for Watson, there is no better coach to align with long term than Mike Tomlin," Orr wrote. "Tomlin will be in Pittsburgh. He treats his team fairly. He has expertly piloted it through choppy waters countless times before.

"While I think the Steelers makes more sense for someone like Sam Darnold, given their tradable assets, they could decide to mortgage their near future and empty the coffers for Watson, understanding that their generational defense has an expiration date on it. Pittsburgh does not have a ton of flexibility with its draft capital, and its first-round picks are always going to be in the middle or end of the round (it has the 24th pick this year)." gave the Steelers 25-1 odds to land Watson, which were 11th-best. CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin named the Steelers as one of the 13 most logical suitors for Watson.

"A mega-deal for a star QB would seem a little out of character for Pittsburgh, but that's only because they've been riding with Ben Roethlisberger for so long," Benjamin wrote. "In the event Big Ben hangs it up after 2020, there's no reason the Steelers shouldn't be making this call. They've got enough young talent on both sides of the ball, particularly defense, that they could afford to surrender a sizable number of picks if it meant making Watson the long-term successor to Roethlisberger."

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranked 17 teams that "could at least plausibly consider a Watson deal, ranked from least likely to most likely." He had the Steelers at No. 15, one spot behind the Browns.

The Ravens were not among Barnwell's 17 teams, but he didn't completely rule out the possibility of Baltimore, the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals at least entertaining the idea of dealing their franchise quarterback for Watson.

"If the Texans were interested in a straight one-for-one swap, it's not out of the question that the Cardinals, Ravens and Bills would consider making that move," Barnwell wrote regarding Kyler Murray, Jackson and Josh Allen. "If the Texans call those teams, they should at least pick up the phone."

The Ravens would probably answer the phone, but it undoubtedly would be an extremely short conversation once they heard the reason for the call.

This Offseason Is Pivotal for Lamar Jackson

After leading the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons, Jackson is entering an offseason that could shape not only his 2021 season but also his long-term future, The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote.

Jackson followed his MVP season with another outstanding year, but as Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week, Jackson has only just begun to develop into "the quarterback that he's going to peak at going forward."

"Entering the Ravens' 2019 offseason program as the starter prepared him for a breakout season. Then the coronavirus pandemic wrecked last year's offseason, setting him back," Shaffer wrote. "If Jackson gets the practice time he needs this spring and summer — not to mention a fortified offensive line — his growth as a passer could be significant."

Jackson's contract status adds another wrinkle to the offseason. General Manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this week that he plans on speaking with Jackson "in the next 10 days or so" about a contract extension. Jackson is set to become one of the league's highest-paid players.

There has been some debate as to whether it makes more financial sense to wait to extend Jackson until next year, when the salary cap is expected to expand again. That would allow the Ravens to address other needs this offseason.

"Whatever Jackson might get, and whenever he might get it, his contract is expected to be the most expensive in franchise history," Shaffer wrote. "It would also be the Ravens' most important deal of this era; just look at how Joe Flacco's NFL-record deal affected the team years after their Super Bowl XLVII triumph. DeCosta and his front office can't offer what they estimate Jackson's been worth to the organization. They have to account for his projected value in three, five, maybe even 10 years."

Tales From 2000 Ravens: Tony Siragusa Gets Last Laugh on Al Davis

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Ravens' 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. To commemorate the occasion, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley compiled a series of anecdotes about the 2000 Ravens, as told by the people who lived it.

Not surprisingly, one of the most compelling tales came from defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who delivered a crushing hit on Rich Gannon in the AFC Championship Game that knocked the Raiders quarterback out of the contest early in the second quarter.

Siragusa said he had bad feelings toward the Raiders going back to 1997, when he made a free-agent visit with Owner Al Davis before eventually signing with the Ravens.

"[Raiders owner] Al Davis brings me in and first of all, he sleeps 'til noon, so you've got to meet with him in the afternoon," Siragusa said. "They bring me out there and they say, 'We're going to offer you this much money.' So, being the person that I am, I knew that the tax situation was really bad in California. I wanted to talk to my accountants because [Davis] was offering me a little bit more [than the Ravens], but it wasn't enough more.

"So I go in the next day and I say I figured it out, and he's like, 'Well, Tony, every day is a new day.' And I was like, really? He goes, 'I'm going to have to offer you $50,000 less than I offered you yesterday.' I told him to give me my plane ticket."

Fast-forward to the 2000 AFC Championship Game. Just after Gannon threw an incompletion, Siragusa belly-flopped on top of him, with all 340 pounds of "Goose" landing on top of him.

"I didn't want to hurt [Gannon], but I wanted to act like a Raider a little bit in a Ravens uniform. Just a couple cheap shots wouldn't be too bad," Siragusa said. "As I'm walking off the field — we just beat the Raiders and we're going to the Super Bowl — I see Al Davis in the tunnel. I walk up to him and I go, 'Hey Al, how you doing? Good thing you saved that $50 grand, [bleep].' I walked right by him and into the locker room."

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