While the Bengals are busy re-signing their own free agents, the rest of the AFC North is taking the opposite approach--either shedding players to make salary cap space and/or searching for outside talent to bolster their roster. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are in the former group, as both well-respected franchises are facing well-documented cap troubles.
Still, that hasn't prevented them from looking at some outside talent. Both teams lost a quality starting 3-4 outside linebacker this year in Paul Kruger and James Harrison, so they are looking for a fix for that roster hole. Initially, both teams showed interest in the recently-released Elvis Dumervil of the Denver Broncos, but with the likelihood of him returning to Denver increasing, the two AFC North powerhouses are looking at another option--Dwight Freeney.
The future Hall of Fame defensive end played the 3-4 outside linebacker last year with the Colts in Chuck Pagano's new scheme, so the fit makes some sense. In that new position last year, Freeney had the second-lowest sack total of his career with five and only one forced fumble. The Colts sound him too expensive to re-sign at his age, given the fit and have let him test the free agent market. We'll see if one of those two Bengals rivals land the Canton-bound defensive player.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns have had a busy offseason, haven't they? Aside from a group of early signings, the Browns have kept their foot on the gas pedal, signing former Bears (and recent interest of the Bengals) tight end Kellen Davis, as well as former Falcons cornerback Chris Owens to their roster. Additionally, they are bringing in former Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler for a visit. It has been a big offseason for the Browns, as they not only have landed some solid free agents, but have revamped the entire coaching staff.
Still, it's not all rosy in Cleveland. Their marquee player, Trent Richardson, has been named in an assault lawsuit. Here are some details of the legal matter, courtesy of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
The lawsuit claims that the incident began on Dec. 9, 2012, at Rumors night club following a Browns victory and continued into the early hours of Dec. 10 when the defendants invited Krystal Jones of Maple Heights and Kathleen Hunter of Cleveland to Trent Richardson's home in Columbia Station, according to the complaint.
Once inside the home, Trent Richardson asked the two women to leave, but as they were leaving, Christman said Richardson became enraged, cursing the two women for "slamming a door" and "disrespecting his house," according to the complaint.
The complaint accuses Richardson of slamming his fist onto the hood of Jones' vehicle, denting the hood and causing $1,500 in damage.It also accuses Richardson of orchestrating a physical assault on the two women, naming his girlfriend Sevina Fatu of Columbia Station and two other yet unnamed women as the assailants.
Not the prettiest of pictures and it's an important lesson for young NFL players to learn about going out to nightclubs and becoming an easy target because of their money and status. Richardson doesn't have any prior criminal records since being in the NFL, so the league would look at something like this as a first offense.