Monday, July 25, 2011

AFC North Free Agency Outlooks

The AFC North is the division that most resembles its fanbase: hard-working, blue collar players (even though they often make millions) who put the team ahead of their own personal goals. With that being said, look for the teams in this division to pay out millions upon millions in this year's free agency class.

Baltimore Ravens Top Needs: Offensive Line, Youth on defense
Top Targets: Look for the Ravens to give Matt Roth a call early in free agency to address what has been a lackluster pass rush outside of Terrell Suggs. Additionally, look for Baltimore to not allow Ray Rice to have another lackluster season and acquire more depth on the offensive line. Guys like Jermon Bushrod, Matt Light, and re-signing Jared Gaither will be top priorities for the Ravens this offseason.

Cincinnati Bengals Top Needs: Safety, Running Back
Top Targets: With Cedric Benson getting into trouble with the law again, look for the Bengals to allow him to sign with another team. Especially since guys like DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Ronnie Brown will also be available. To help shore up its pass defense, look for Cincinnati to target a guy like George Wilson, Tom Zbikowski, or Melvin Bullitt.

Cleveland Browns Top Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
Top Targets: Cleveland decided to pass on Julio Jones and focus on defense in the draft. Now, it's time to land a top flight wide receiver to help out promising young quarterback Colt McCoy, who had a surprisingly nice season last year with very little help. The Dawg Pound should be holding up signs saying Sidney Rice or Bust. If not Rice, Terrell Owens, Malcolm Floyd, or Steve Breaston would fit in nicely in Cleveland. Also look for Cleveland's new-look 4-3 defense to add a veteran to help the younger players adapt to the new playbook. Defensive end Ray Edwards would go a long way towards supplying some stability to what has been a shaky defense the past few years.

Pittsburgh Steelers Top Needs: Cornerback, Running Back
Top Targets: Pittsburgh needs to re-sign cornerback Ike Taylor before looking at anyone else. Taylor has been an anchor on the defensive back seven along with Troy Polamalu. To go alongside Taylor, look for Pittsburgh to target a lesser known guy like Paul Oliver, Roderick Hood, or Chris Houston. I know it's strange that a team with Rashard Mendenhall needs another running back, but Mendenhall's fumbling problems could be a product of overuse. Someone like Darren Sproles, Kevin Smith, or Tim Hightower to help take the load off of Mendenhall.

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