The AFC North exudes what people love about football; tough and gritty competition. No one hits harder or hates their opponents more than the teams in the AFC North. The Steelers have become the class of the division. The Ravens are normally their toughest competition but Ozzie Newsome has destroyed the roster in recent years. Then there’s the irrelevant Browns and Bengals. With Big Ben nearing the end of the road, the time is now for the rest of the AFC North to step up their games.
Teams can start using the franchise tag on February 20th. The Steelers are no stranger to that and likely will use the tag again. Free Agency starts in the early days of March. What can we expect from the AFC North during free agency in 2018?
Free Agents: Mike Wallace, Ryan Jensen, Ben Watson, Terrance West, James Hurts, Michael Campanaro, Crockett Gilmore, Brent Urban
Ozzie Newsome couldn’t have done a worse job at keeping this team relevant since they won the Super Bowl back in 2012. He’s missed on just about every single draft pick since. This roster also stinks and is vastly overpaid. How in the world do the Ravens have just $7 million to spend? After the Ravens sign their draft class, that $7 million is essentially whipped out. Baltimore is stuck until they can move off of the Joe Flacco contract.
Free Agents: Kevin Minter, Andre Smith, Kevin Huber, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill, Russell Bodine, A.J. McCarron
It’s really hard for me to talk about a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990. I feel like I waste valuable time of my life even typing this paragraph. The Bengals are irrelevant and will continue to be so as long as Marvin Lewis is running the show. Having the redhead Andy Dalton at quarterback doesn’t help the Bengals chances of winning either.
Really the only storyline to follow is what happens to A.J. McCarron. I’m convinced McCarron is better than Dalton but we will find out if other teams think so. He will be one of the highly coveted quarterbacks on the open market.
Free Agents: Isaiah Crowell
I kid you not, Crowell is the only impending free agent on the roster. Cleveland also has over $100 million to spend in free agency. The Browns can throw money at any player they want this offseason. The problem is any player would be crazy to play there; even if it means for less money.
Free Agents: Le’Veon Bell, Arthur Moats, Justin Hunter, Sean Spence, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Daniel McCullers
The Steelers have the second fewest amount to spend this offseason. Only the Eagles have less. With just $1.5 million in the bank, Pittsburgh is kind of screwed. Releasing Joe Haden free’s up over $8 million and may just have to be a casualty for bringing back Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh has to keep their star running back by any means necessary. Mike Mitchell, J.J. Wilcox, Tyson Alualu, and Vance McDonald are other players who could be on the chopping block. Regardless, bringing back Bell is the first thing on the wish list.