By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.
The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.
Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”
FS Earl Thomas – the free safety has left Seattle and, for $55 million over the next four years, he will be working to bring the Ravens defense back to prominence. After letting C.J. Mosely and Terrell Suggs go, this defense needed a boost.
RB Mark Ingram – what fantasy football player didn’t love this running back when he was in New Orleans? Does he have enough left to give Lamar Jackson some help in carrying the ball? For three years and $15 million, we’ll have to see.
CB B.W. Webb – the former NY Giant will come in handy at cornerback for the Bengals as they will be facing some tough receivers in the division this year. Three years for $13 million seems like a steal.
ILB Preston Brown – re-signed inside linebacker for three years / $21 million
RT Bobby Hart – re-signed right tackle for three years / $16 million and change.
WR Odell Beckham, Jr. – in a trade that still have Browns fans wondering how general manager John Dorsey pulled it off, OBJ will be catching passes from Mayfield, and maybe fellow wide receiver and LSU teammate Javis Landry!
DT Sheldon Richardson – the defensive tackle formerly with the Vikings signed a deal for three years worth $37 million.
TE Demetrius Harris – while TE Njoku improved a lot last year, Dorsey thought the team needed more offensive weapons for Mayfield. Harris left Kansas City and signed a two year deal for $6 million.
ILB Adarius Taylor – this was a position of need for this team and the former Buccaneer will be getting $5 million over the two years of his deal.
RB Kareem Hunt – another former Chief who Dorsey knows very well, and a guy with a troubled past, could give the Browns the best duo of rushers in the league when he’s paired up with rookie sensation Nick Chubb. They’ll just have to wait until the NFL announces what – if any – punishment awaits him for last years off the field issues. (edited to add: Hunt received an 8 game suspension)
CB Steve Nelson – from Kansas City, three years / $25.5 million
OLB Anthony Chickillo – re-signed to two years and $8 million
ILB L.J. Fort – re-signed to three years and $5.5 million
WR Donte Moncrief – I don’t have any details yet, but reportedly it’s a two-year deal.
Talk football and Free Agency with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8