Change is inevitable in the NFL from season to season, but most of the teams in the AFC North are taking that absolute to the extreme this offseason:
BALTIMORE RAVENS: The Ravens have parted ways with some of the most recognizable and reliable names in their history, and they know it.
Consider the reactions as reported by the Baltimore Sun to the trade of quarterback Joe Flacco (to Denver) and the free-agent departures of linebackers Terrell Suggs (to Arizona) and C.J. Mosley (to the New York Jets):
New General Manager Eric DeCosta on Suggs: “A Raven through and through, he’s tenacious, the best of what we want our defenders to be. On the football field, he’s a warrior and he’ll fight with everything he has. He developed into one of the best team leaders in our history. Terrell is one of the all-time great Ravens.”
Head coach John Harbaugh on Flacco: “Like Suggs, Joe will be a Ring-of-Honor member soon after he retires. The big arm, the consistency, the toughness, Joe had it all. What separated him was his calm demeanor in the storm. He handled the chaos that comes with playing quarterback and was at his best for us on the fourth quarter.”
Former General Manager Ozzie Newsome on Mosley: “Even though C.J. was only here five years, he’ll go down as one of our best defenders ever. We wanted to keep him, but there’s a business side of football and these things happen with every team. Historically, we’re tough, aggressive and smart on defense. C.J. was all of that.”
CLEVELAND BROWNS: The acquisition of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Football Giants made the biggest splash. But some other lower-profile transactions are potentially impactful.
Greg Robinson was retained after starting the final eight games at left offensive tackle last season. But Robinson, according to ESPN.com, was penalized 10 times over the final seven games, including nine times for holding.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon, a perceived fit as a complement to defensive end Myles Garrett, arrived in a deal that cost the Browns right guard Kevin Zeitler. The next man up at that position might be 2018 second-round pick Austin Corbett, who played 14 offensive snaps as a rookie.
And defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was signed from Minnesota. The Browns will be Richardson’s fourth team in four seasons in 2019 (after stints with the Jets, Seahawks and Vikings in succession). The interior defensive line was a perceived area in need of an upgrade in Cleveland, particularly as it relates to pressure up the middle. Richardson had 23.5 sacks in his first six NFL campaigns, including 4.5 in 2018 for the Vikings.
Running back Kareem Hunt has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy while a member of the Kansas City Chiefs last season. The suspension will commence on Aug. 31. Hunt can participate in OTAs, minicamps, training camp and preseason games. “He has been in the building and I know that he has done a really nice job being committed and of doing that work so that he can be the best version of himself,” General Manager John Dorsey told ESPN.com. “I know he has been diligently working on that.”
CINCINNATI BENGALS: Things were relatively quiet initially in Cincinnati, but new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan considered the re-signing of tight end C.J. Uzomah a move the Bengals could build upon.
Here’s what Callahan had to say about Uzomah remaining with the Bengals to Bengals.com:
“He’s a pass-game threat. He’s got run-game physicality. He’s got athleticism to reach and run. He can knock people off the ball. He’s going to be a really good fit for what we want to do and what we ask of our (tight end) position in our offense.”
Cincinnati also re-signed linebacker Preston Brown and offensive tackle Bobby Hart. Brown started all seven games he appeared in during the 2018 season after spending his first four NFL campaigns in Buffalo. Hart started 16 games at right tackle for the Bengals after arriving following three seasons with the Giants.