Free agency has officially started, and the other AFC North teams haven't come out gunning. The Steelers and Ravens are strapped for cap space, so their slow starts aren't exactly surprising. Though, the Steelers have re-signed a few of their own and the Ravens acquired Saints tight end Benjamin Watson. The deal with Watson is 2 years with max value of $8 million and $3 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. The Browns, however, have missed hard so far. Cleveland has not only missed out on some bigger name targets; they have also lost two essential starters from last season.
Ravens interested in Mike Wallace: The Ravens have reportedly shown interest in Mike Wallace for the "right price". Now what that price is remains to be seen, but the Ravens could be onto something here. Joe Flacco's arm would be a huge upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater's, and that could lead to Wallace being able to stretch the defense again. Something the Ravens sorely missed last season.
Kelechi Osemele makes it official: We've already acknowledged Osemele was on his way to the Raiders yesterday, but now that it is official it obviously hurts the Ravens. Baltimore had already struggled to protect Flacco last season. That task obviously becomes harder with Osemele moving on.
Browns low-ball Marvin Jones: It was widely speculated that the Browns would go after Marvin Jones and/or Mohamed Sanu. Early in free agency though they missed their shot at one of them.
This tactic didn't go over well with Jones who promptly signed a 5 year $40 million deal with the Lions. The miss wouldn't hurt as much if the Browns weren't also hit with this news as well...
Travis Benjamin charges off: The now former Cleveland wide receiver, Benjamin, signed a 4 year $24 million deal with the Chargers.
Terms for Travis Benjamin and the #Chargers: 4 years, $24M with $13M guaranteed. $18M over the first 3 years— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2016
This is a major blow to the Browns receiving core that is now relying on Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and of course Josh Gordon, IF he's reinstated to the league. There also hasn't been any news that Sanu is regarding Cleveland as an option. Maybe Hue Jackson thinks Terrelle Pryor can fill Sanu's role in wildcat packages.
Alex Mack takes off: After plenty of of optimism existed for Mack to return to Cleveland on a bigger deal when the center voided the final three years of his deal, Mack has signed a five year deal with the Falcons. The 30-year-old center's first two years of the contract are guaranteed. Josh Gordon even chimed in after hearing the news.
Mitchell Schwartz rides out: A common theme on the first day of free agency was Cleveland either missing out or losing former key players. Schwartz finalized a five year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs leaving plenty scratching their heads in Cleveland. The Browns started off the day with $43.9 million in salary cap, and yet they didn't even manage to retain several big contributors from last season.
Said a Browns player re: the team pulling its offer for RT Mitchell Schwartz: "I'm as confused as anyone." @nflnetwork— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 9, 2016
Mitchell, who established himself last season as a premiere right tackle, departing is massive blow when coupled with Mack leaving as well. You have to feel bad for whichever quarterback the Browns draft at number 2 now.
Johnny Manziel still hasn't been cut: The Browns weren't done in the headlines yet. Cleveland is hoping they can trade away Manziel instead of having to cut him.
It is hard to imagine a world where a team would give up a late round pick for Manziel at this point, and this very poor personal relations move has led to one universal thought...
#Browns have lost Travis Benjamin, Alex Mack and Mitch Schwartz.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 9, 2016
But they still have Johnny Manziel.
Tashaun Gipson heads out of Cleveland, too: Add another name to the list of former Browns.
The #Jaguars are signing S Tashaun Gipson, source said— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2016
The deal is reportedly 5 years for $35.5 million. Gipson was spurned by the Browns when they only gave him the second round tender in 2015. Some of those feelings and the Browns organization's lack of faith in him probably made it hard for him to consider returning. This was another major blow to the Browns who now will have the safety tandem of Donte Whitner and Jordan Poyer.
Ladarius Green rolls in: The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided on how to replace Heath Miller. The NFL Network reported Wednesday night that the former Chargers tight end has signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Steelers.
Green was universally thought to be misused and underutilized in San Diego. He could be a big addition given the hole Miller left with his retirement. Green would come in and compete with Jesse James who will be going into his second NFL season.
Steelers make their choice: Last week the Steelers appeared to have a choice between veteran guard, Ramon Foster, and the younger tackle coming off injury, Kelvin Beachum, in free agency due to their limited cap. The Steelers have appeared to make that decision with the signing of Foster.
It appears to be the right choice since the Steelers would've had to pay Beachum more in order to retain him.
Cutting Cortez: The Steelers have reportedly asked cornerback Cortez Allen to restructure his deal and take a pay cut, ESPN is reporting. Allen is slated to make $4.4 million in 2016 and if he doesn't take a pay cut, he could be cut completely this summer.