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Around the AFC North: Ravens likely to use Franchise Tag on Dennis Pitta

If the Ravens can't re-sign tight end Dennis Pitta to a long-term deal, they'll probably be placing the franchise tag on him to keep the Pro Bowler in Baltimore.

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Patrick Smith

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports the Ravens will likely place the franchise tag on tight end Dennis Pitta if the team fails to re-sign him before the start of NFL free agency.

If the Ravens tag Pitta for one-year at $6.8 million, the salary assigned to tight ends, Pitta might file a grievance through the NFLPA to be tagged as a wide receiver -- at $11.6 million -- after lining up in the slot on 79.7 percent of his routes this past season. He's not leaving either way, as Pitta is one of the better young tight ends in the game. Even though he missed most of last year with a hip injury, he's hands-down the best free agent tight end, but he won't get to test the market.

Wilson also reports that defensive lineman Arthur Jones will draw heavy interest on the open market, making it unlikely he returns to Baltimore. Jones is coming off of the best year of his career with five sacks and a +15.7 grade from PFF. There may be limited options though for Jones on the open market because he is a 3-4 defensive end.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette expects the Pittsburgh Steelers to re-sign free agent receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

They can't afford to lose both he and Emmanual Sanders in the same offseason, but Cotchery will be easier for the cap-strung Steelers to keep. In 2013, Cotchery who had a career-high 10 touchdowns and caught 46 passes in his best season in Pittsburgh since he was signed in 2011. At age 31, he won't be commanding a lot of money.

ESPN insider Mike Sando (subscription required) says the Cleveland Browns are primed for a good offseason.

With a host of draft picks, including two first-rounders, to go with around $45 million in salary cap space, the Browns certainly have the ammunition to make some noise this offseason. Unfortunately for Cleveland, that's the case every other year, so why will this year be any different?