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Around the AFC North: Free Agent Breakdown

Posted Mar 6, 2014

With free agency set to begin on March 11, here's a look at the Ravens, Bengals, and Browns

BALTIMORE RAVENS
UFAs OF INTEREST
TE Dallas Clark; DT Terence Cody; TE Ed Dickson; CB Corey Graham; S James Ihedigbo, DE Arthur Jones; WR Jacoby Jones; S Jeromy Miles; OT Eugene Monroe; OT Michael Oher; RB Bernard Scott; LB Daryl Smith; WR Brandon Stokley.

THE SKINNY
The Ravens got significant business done in advance of the March 11 opening of free agency when they re-signed TE Dennis Pitta (five years, $32 million) and worked out a four-year extension with OLB Terrelle Suggs (four years, $16 million guaranteed and $21 million on the books over the first three years).

The Ravens had cleared some salary cap space by jettisoning LB Jameel McClain and FB Vonta Leach.

Still unsettled with free agency looming is the offensive line, as both starting OTs (Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher) are in play.

Jacoby Jones is a heart-stopping, combustible return man and was also a starting wide receiver last season, and unless the Ravens want to open next season with two new starting ILBs Daryl Smith would seem a candidate to return given McClain’s release.

Corey Graham was a starter on the Ravens’ Super Bowl team two seasons ago but played nickel in Baltimore last season. He’s probably a better fit in that lesser role but might be in line to get enough money elsewhere to make a change of scenery personally advantageous.

CINCINNATI BENGALS
UFAs OF NOTE
LB Michael Boley; OT Anthony Collins; S Chris Crocker; CB Brandon Ghee; DE Michael Johnson; S Taylor Mays; P Zoltan Mesko; G Mike Pollak; OT Dennis Roland; TE Alex Smith; WR Brandon Tate.

THE SKINNY
The Bengals have relied heavily for a couple of seasons now on a deep and talented defensive line. They’d be happy to continue to be able to do so and as a result would love to bring Michael Johnson back.

But at what cost?

Cincinnati made significant financial commitments to Carlos Dunlap (five years, $40 million) and Geno Atkins (five years, $55 million) prior to last season, and it’s quite possible the Bengals may have reached their saturation point as it relates to big-ticket defensive lineman.

Anthony Collins and Mike Pollak saw significant snaps along the offensive line in 2013, but the Bengals believe they have options there because of Andrew Whitworth’s ability to play guard or tackle and because the team believes there is decent depth at tackle available in both the draft and free agency.

CLEVELAND BROWNS
UFAs OF NOTE
OL Oniel Cousins; K Billy Cundiff; G Shawn Lauvao; RB Willis McGahee; S T.J. Ward.

THE SKINNY
The Browns’ use of the transition tag on Alex Mack was a step aimed at ensuring the center doesn’t miss a snap for the team, something Mack hasn’t done since the Browns drafted him in the first round in 2009. And with the Mack situation at least temporarily stabilized, the Browns will turn their attention to safety.

T.J. Ward (pictured above) is highly thought of, but so, too, is Buffalo free agent Jairus Byrd, who played last season under former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Browns’ new head coach. It’s not a reach to suggest the Browns need either Ward or Byrd patrolling their secondary next season, and the Buffalo Bills are continuing to work to get Byrd under contract themselves.

Shawn Lauvao was a starter at right guard but likely won’t be pursued by the new coaching staff.

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