First Call: ESPN reporter says Baker Mayfield signs with Steelers ‘the next day’ if cut; Terrell Edmunds still ‘in the mix’ to return

Thursday’s “First Call” advances another “Baker Mayfield to the Steelers” theory. Liberty’s coach lobbies for Malik Willis to be selected as the NFL draft’s top quarterback.

Discussion continues regarding a return of Terrell Edmunds to Pittsburgh. And the Washington Capitals have tied the Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division.


Believe it when I see it

For the second time in less than a month, talk of the Steelers potentially scooping up Baker Mayfield has surfaced.

In late March, Cleveland.com reporter Mary Kay Cabot said that the Steelers would “pounce” on Baker Mayfield if he was released by the Browns.

Now, we Wednesday’s edition of “Get Up,” ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said that if the Browns released Mayfield, the Steelers “would sign him the very next day.” He went on to say teams still “covet” the former No. 1 pick but would prefer to wait for his release as opposed to meet whatever asking price the Browns would demand in a trade and absorb Mayfield’s existing salary.

All this chatter stems from Cleveland’s acquisition of Deshaun Watson, and Mayfield’s ensuing displeasure for — in his words — disrespecting him in the process.

I didn’t believe the Steelers rumors in March. I don’t believe them now. I’ve never gotten any indication that the Steelers front office or coaching staff thought Mayfield was all that good to begin with as a competitor. Let alone to attempt signing him after they extended Mason Rudolph prior to last season and inked Mitch Trubisky this offseason.

To say nothing of the possibility that the franchise could draft a quarterback next week.


Making a pitch

Speaking of drafting quarterbacks, Liberty’s Malik Willis made a visit to the Steelers facility Wednesday. He had previously interacted with Steelers front office personnel at the Senior Bowl, the combine and his Pro Day.

On Tuesday, Willis’ coach at Liberty, Hugh Freeze, made a hard pitch for Willis to be the first QB drafted next Thursday night.

“In this class, I just don’t think there’s another guy — with the way the game’s being played now — who has that potential to be an absolute home run more than Malik,” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze told “The Zach Gelb Show” on Tuesday. “He’s truly the most humble yet most talented kid I’ve ever coached, which is real rare. He doesn’t get caught up in what the social media world says about him. He’s determined to be an incredible leader in the locker room.”

That said, Freeze did acknowledge some challenges Willis will face.

“There’s still a lot for Malik to learn — he’s only played quarterback two years, and he’s just now scratching the surface … I just don’t see how you don’t give a guy [a chance] who has the leadership, character, arm strength, IQ, and the athleticism … Obviously, no one can argue with those traits he has. It’s just a matter of time before he processes everything, that whatever team gets him, he becomes their guy.”

Willis has appeared as the Steelers first-round pick in numerous mock drafts. The franchise currently has the 20th pick in the first round.

But Willis has also been projected as high as the No. 2 overall selection by the Detroit Lions.


Waiting game

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler thinks that free agent safety Terrell Edmunds has the ball in his court when it comes to a potential reunion with the Steelers.

Appearing on 93.7 The Fan Wednesday, Fowler said that the Steelers have an offer out to Edmunds, it’s just a matter of him deciding if (or when) he wants to sign it. The Steelers decided to let Edmunds—their 2018 first round draft choice—test the free agent waters, and he hasn’t found an offer interesting enough to leave Pittsburgh as of yet.

“They’ve been waiting on Terrell Edmunds,” Fowler told the “PM Team” Wednesday. “Everybody wants to talk about the Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu). But Edmunds has very much been in the mix. I believe he has an offer he has been sitting on from the Steelers and from other teams. For whatever reason he is just taking his time and being patient. Maybe he’ll wait until after the draft.”

Yet Fowler went on to say, “If he were to call (the Steelrs) and say ‘I’m ready to come back,’ they would do that.”

The Steelers have yet to find a potential replacement for Edmunds at strong safety, and there aren’t a lot of first-round-worthy safeties in this year’s draft.


Opportunity missed

The Washington Capitals had a chance to leapfrog the Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division Wednesday night. Instead, they just pulled into a tie.

That’s because the Caps lost a 4-3 overtime decision to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Shea Theodore scored the game-winning goal for Vegas.

The overtime loss gave Washington one point while the Pens were idle. So that means both teams have 97 points with five games remaining. They have identical 43-23-11 records.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the loss for Washington. He now has 50 goals on the season. This is the ninth time he has reached that plateau in his career.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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