The AFC North Offseason Buzz

What looked like a penalty but was subject to interpretation, is now officially a penalty.
The AFC North Offseason Buzz
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Baltimore Ravens
Crocket Gillmore gave the Ravens some rare positive news on the injury front.
My Take: It would be better news if he went under the knife prior to free agency so that the extent of injury could have been discovered before signing tight end Benjamin Watson. Labral tears can be treated with a wide range of methods including Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, which can heal in as quickly as six weeks. His tear was obviously on the low end of the severity scale. That said, Watson only counts $2M against the cap this season, and the Ravens needed some depth due to the injury uncertainty and due to TE Nick Boyle’s idiotic use of banned substances.
Cleveland Browns
Sure RGIII visited Cleveland for a couple of days, but what’s more important to the Browns success is to solitify their offensive line, beginning with retaining left tackle Joe Thomas.
My Take: There have been multiple rumors surrounding the final 2016 destination of Joe Thomas including Baltimore (although opening up that kind of cap space in Baltimore is as likely as a 2016 Browns playoff run led by Robert Griffin III). The Browns should and likely will hold onto their prized left tackle. If they don’t, they won’t just be “two years away’. Browns fans will likely set their sights on the 2020’s.
Cincinnati Bengals
Move over Tom Brady and New England: there is a new sheriff in town when it comes to creating rule changes.
My Take: Okay so there is less whining and rule manipulating with the new sheriff, and this rule does make quite a bit of sense (and it seems as though there are already a dozen active variations of this “new” proposed rule.) Using the crown of the helmet to tackle as opposed to using arms, shoulders, forearms, hands, etc. seems like a bad idea for both the ball carrier and the head/neck of the hitter. Now this rule does state “crown of helmet” and not “side” or “front”, so it will be interesting to see how on-field officials interpret this rule. My guess is they will be overly cautious and will misinterpret the “crown” as being the entire helmet and not just the top.
Pittsburgh Steelers
One roster spot that fell off of my radar with all of the recent free agency moves was the Steelers backup quarterback position.
My Take: Over the past six years, Steelers all-pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played two complete seasons and almost a full third, but he has missed 11 games in the three other seasons combined, including four games last year. The Steelers offensive line will be a big question mark with all of the recent gains and losses via free agency, and the AFC North battle usually goes down to the wire. If Ben is out for any length of time, how the team addresses this roster spot could be the difference between an AFC North title and missing the playoffs.

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