Around the NFL  

 

Free agency grades: AFC North

Print


After more than a week of free-agency action, it's time to take stock of what teams have accomplished thus far. We'll assign highly scientific and inarguable grades for each NFL team's free agent haul thus far, noting their additions and subtractions. The AFC North is below.

Baltimore Ravens: This was a typical free-agency period from general manager Ozzie Newsome. He let a very good player leave because Kelechi Osemele was paid like a superstar by the Oakland Raiders. Instead, the Ravens signed three "buy low" veterans at relatively modest prices. Eric Weddle will shore up a shaky Ravens secondary. Mike Wallace was never a No. 1 receiver and now should fit in as a role player that goes deep to catch Joe Flacco's bombs. Ben Watson adds leadership and a grown-up to an inexperienced Ravens tight end room. Judging by Newsome's track record, he is probably good for another sneaky signing or two by August. He often picks off veterans released elsewhere. Grade: B

Watch:

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis and rising front-office star Duke Tobin entered the offseason with more key free agents than any other team. They have done a good job bringing back some key talent, while letting a few other players go. It was interesting to see the Bengals prioritize safety George Illoka over Reggie Nelson, but Illoka is younger and more physical. The Bengals also prioritized Adam "Pacman" Jones over Leon Hall, with Jones amazingly getting the biggest payday of his career at age 32. Vincent Rey and Pat Sims were other role players brought back, but we're giving the Bengals an incomplete thus far because so many questions remain.

Nelson, Hall and Wallace Gilberry remain on the market. The Bengals watched receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones get overpaid elsewhere, but Tobin has built up enough offensive depth to withstand their losses. The craziest part about the Bengals' recent track record: They have earned the full benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing, and likely will draft well to fill the gaps. Grade: INC.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have been talked about way too much this month, with most of the discourse prematurely burying the Sashi Brown era. There's no denying that the Browns are less talented than they were a month ago. Center Alex Mack, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wide receiver Travis Benjamin were three of the best players on the team last year. Safety Tashaun Gipson was coming off a down year, but he played a lot of snaps for Cleveland.

The biggest loss was Mack. They wanted to keep him, and he chose to join his old coach Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta. The Browns oddly pulled their offer from Schwartz, raising fair questions about the front office. Free agency ghosts Dwayne Bowe and Karlos Dansby were let go. There's not a lot to get excited about on this roster, but making big noise early in free agency hasn't exactly worked for the Browns in the past. This is a complete rebuild. Let's give this some time. Grade: D+

Pittsburgh Steelers: The suspension of Martavis Bryant added a dark cloud over the Steelers' offseason, but that's not general manager Kevin Colbert's fault. We love what he's been doing in free agency, bringing back cornerback William Gay and guard Ramon Foster for sensible deals. Tight end Ladarius Green was one of our favorite pickups in free agency and will help Steelers fans forget about Heath Miller (really). Losing Kelvin Beachum hurts the offensive line, but assistant coach Mike Munchak has shown he can coach up lesser talent. Grade: B

Print