The 2017 NFL season won’t begin for another five months, but teams have been hard at work reshaping — and in some cases, rebuilding — their rosters. With the league year now a month old and the 2017 NFL Draft still a few weeks away, we’re taking a division-by-division look at each team’s offseason thus far.
Next up: the AFC North.
The Ravens’ most significant offseason move to date involved a player they kept, not one they added. Baltimore shelled out $54 million over five years to re-sign nose tackle Brandon Williams, making the 28-year-old run-stuffing force the highest-paid player in the league at his position. They also signed safety Tony Jefferson and running back Danny Woodhead. Losing right tackle Rick Wagner in free agency hurt, though, and a Baltimore club that has not reached the playoffs since 2015 still needs help at wide receiver and pass rusher.
This has been a rough offseason for the Bengals. They lost two of their starting offensive linemen (Andrew Whitworth to the Los Angeles Rams and Kevin Zeitler to the Cleveland Browns) and saw running back Rex Burkhead sign a one-year, $3.15 million contract with the New England Patriots. Burkhead was a role player in Cincinnati, but the Patriots, who hadn’t paid any running back more than $2 million since 2010, clearly believe he can be more in New England.
We still have no idea who will play quarterback for Cleveland in 2017, and we doubt the Browns do, either. They added the much-maligned Brock Osweiler in a highly unconventional trade with the Houston Texans, but the prevailing sentiment is he’ll be cut before the season starts. And reported attempts to pry Jimmy Garoppolo out of New England thus far have yielded nothing. The Browns did shore up their offensive line and added wideout Kenny Britt, but they also let breakout offensive star Terrelle Pryor walk. We won’t know until after the NFL draft what this team truly will look like this season.
The Steelers haven’t done a whole lot since being bounced by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. They re-signed backup quarterback Landry Jones, saw veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons leave to sign with the Miami Dolphins and hosted Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower for a visit but could not lock him up. Pittsburgh got confirmation that Ben Roethlisberger will, in fact, return for his 14th season under center. What do the Steelers still need? A pass rusher to complement and eventually replace 38-year-old James Harrison wouldn’t hurt, and Roethlisberger reportedly has been “lobbying hard for more offensive targets.”
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