AT 4:00 PM Tuesday the NFL’s annual yard sale began and most teams wasted very little time getting in on the action. The AFC North came in swinging to keep some players but also to release some players alleviating much needed cap space. Here is a breakdown of the first day of free agency for the AFC North.
The bengals started the day with two unrestricted free agents in T Anthony Collins and DE Michael Johnson. Anthony Collins has been the slow mover of the two as he is still unsigned by any team as of yet, but had garnered interest form the Washington Redskins and he is set to visit with Tampa Bay today. Michal Johnson wasted no time however as he signed with the Buccaneers for a 5 year $43.75 million dollar deal ($24 Million guaranteed). Key releases include C Kyle Cook, freeing up around $2 million in cap space but the Bengals have also re-signed Brandon Tate to an undisclosed figure. Andrew Hawkings has received an offer from the Cleveland Browns but as a restricted free agent, the Bengals have a chance to match the offer.
The Browns have carried over a league-high in unused cap room of $24,537,568 into 2014 and they are above average in cap room compared to the rest of the league. Cleveland wasted no time using their cap dollars and signed former Arizona Cardinal LB Karlos Dansby to a 4 year deal at $24 million with $14 million guaranteed – a move precipitated by the release of LB D’Qwell Jackson.
A key loss for the Browns in free agency was S TJ Ward but he was also quickly replaced by Donte Whitner from the San Francisco 49ers to a 4 year $28 million dollar deal. In an intra divisional signing, the Browns added ex-Bengal WR Andrew Hawkins to an offer sheet but details of the deal have yet to be released. With all that cap room the Browns are also expected to go after CB Darelle Revis as they are one of the few teams in the NFL that can meet his pricey demands.
The Ravens where the second quietest out of the North in free agency as they focused on keeping key players more than adding new ones. OT Eugine Monroe was a priority from the start and it appears as if both sides of the table came to an agreement with a 5 year $37.5 million dollar deal. With Ray Rice’s legal issues in the fore front, the Ravens are keeping an eye out in the running back market but very little movement has occurred in the NFL at the RB spot so there is no rush. Jacoby Jones, a player they are trying to keep, has hit the free agency market and will visit with the Giants today, so don’t hold your breath on him staying a Raven as the Giants are looking hard to add another receiver after loosing Hakeem Nicks. Possible targets for the Ravens are Owen Daniels (Cut by Houston) and Stevie Smith (Soon to be released by the Panthers).
Once again the Steelers enter the free agency period over the cap and there mantra has been “re-structure, re-structure, re-structure” . Most notable loss is Emmanuel Sanders and the release of LaMarr Wodley early on. As expected the Steelers were fairly silent in day one of free agency but managed to squeeze out a move by landing S Mike Mitchell form the Carolina Panthers to a 5 year deal of $25 million.