Who are some potential cap casualties for the Ravens? It may be Tyrod Taylor time in Cleveland. The Steelers have to take care of two thirds of their triplets this offseason, but what else can they do to upgrade their roster? We take a look at that and more in examining this week around the AFC North.
Kyle Juszczyk is an underrated free agent for the Ravens. He won’t be talked about as much as Brandon Williams, but Juszczyk might be the next most important free agent.
The Pro Bowl fullback has been a solid piece of the Ravens offense and instrumental in run blocking for a running game that was underutilized this season. But, he also got more involved in the receiving game this season, en route to his first Pro Bowl season. He caught 37 passes for 277 yards.
Baltimore has set up a meeting with his agent during the combine. Juszczyk is a very talented fullback, but the fullback position isn’t utilized as much around the league as it used to be. It’s a perfect time for him to be discussing his contract after a career year.
The Ravens have about $15 million in cap space heading into the offseason. They have some cuts they can easily make if they want to become a little more active in free agency or just more space to retain free agents.
We’ll get an easy one out of the way first in Shareece Wright. Wright was a starting corner for the Ravens last season, but he didn’t impress. If the Ravens cut ties with him they’d save $2.6 million.
Another member of the secondary who could be on the chopping block is Lardarius Webb. Webb has struggled to stay healthy, and cutting him creates $2 million in cap space, which means Webb may be looking for a fresh start elsewhere.
On the offensive side of the ball, there are three potential victims. It’s doubtful that the Ravens would cut all three, though. That list includes Dennis Pitta ($4.4 million), Mike Wallace ($2.25), and Benjamin Watson ($1 million). Wallace is one of the few remaining receivers left after Steve Smith Sr.’s departure, but he was far too inconsistent last season. He only had six games with more than 60 yards and only scored four touchdowns. Pitta and Watson represent money savings at a position at which the Ravens have a huge amount of depth, so they are easy targets. If the Ravens cut Watson, he’d go down as a wasted free agent without playing a game for the Ravens. He was hurt during the 2016 preseason after signing with the team as a free agent last offseason.
It’s hard to say who exactly the Ravens will get rid of, but making some cuts on dispensable players could help them sign one of the many free agent corners set to hit the market.
Tyrod Taylor made it known he isn’t restructuring his contract in Buffalo, which means he will likely be becoming a free agent. The Bills aren’t going to keep him on his current contract. That means the Browns could find another bridge quarterback to put on their roster.
The Browns have been linked to every possible quarterback hitting the market and available in the draft, and that’s okay. The Browns need an answer at the quarterback position, but there isn’t a decisive answer in free agency or the draft.
Before someone says Tony Romo, please be real about that possibility. Romo isn’t coming to a team in full rebuild mode. The Browns still have Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler who played okay, but they doesn’t strike confidence in a fan base after a 1-15 season.
Taylor was a solid quarterback for Buffalo last season. He threw 3,023 yards 17 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 61% of his throws. His numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, but of the veteran quarterbacks who are on the market, the Browns won’t have to give up anything but money to get him. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely cost a high draft round pick to acquire while still being as risky as a draft pick. The same goes for AJ McCarron.
Taylor may not be the future, but he could be an option for the Browns until they find their quarterback of the future.
One of the Browns’ biggest priorities is locking up Terrelle Pryor Sr. for the long term. Pryor has reportedly made it a priority as well. He has insisted that just because the Browns were 1-15 in 2016 doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to come back.
Let’s break this down though. Other teams thinking of signing Pryor should realize he has failed everywhere else he’s played. He had a career year in Cleveland after a switch to wide receiver and was the number one target on a team that didn’t have many other options. He would be viewed as a semi-risky signing for any team not named the Browns.
The Browns, however, are very motivated to re-sign him. It would be a positive move for a team that needs to excite its fan base. The Browns also easily have the most cap space to work with among all NFL teams as they have more than $100 million to spend this offseason.
From Pryor’s point of view, the team that wants him the most is also able to give him the most money, so it makes sense for him to want to return. It’s possible he could be franchise tagged if the Browns aren’t sure a long-term deal can get done in the next month.
It has been obvious since the beginning of the 2016 season that the Steelers had to lock up Antonio Brown for the long term and Le’Veon Bell for 2017, at least.
During the playoffs, the Steelers voiced some issues with Brown. Brown live streamed the locker room celebration after a playoff victory that captured some bulletin board material for the Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger also complained that Brown was upset after the team scored a touchdown against the Patriots because Brown wasn’t involved.
This led to everyone questioning whether the Steelers would continue to put up with Brown. This was especially true considering they weren’t afraid to part ways with Santonio Holmes, who was a Super Bowl MVP, and Mike Wallace who was their top receiver at the time.
However, Kevin Colbert, the Steelers GM, insisted the Steelers are committed to one of the league’s best receivers.
“We want Antonio to retire a Steeler for life," Colbert told ESPN.
This is one of those “duh” moments. Brown is widely considered one of the best receivers in the NFL and his “antics” aren’t that bad, considering how talented he is. The thing is, when he isn’t playing, you’d like the antics to stop, especially breaking league rules by streaming a locker room speech.
It is hard to gauge how much cap room the Steelers will have after likely tagging Bell and locking up Brown long-term, but they will still have a decent amount of money to work with during free agency.
They may have their sights set on a top corner, but in reality, they may end up with a guy is willing to take less than top cornerback money. A likely target could be a guy like Morris Claiborne who was a talented player when he was drafted and will be looking to prove himself elsewhere.
Another area need the Steelers need to seriously address is the future of the quarterback position. It became a little more real with Roethlisberger considering retirement this offseason. Landry Jones is a decent backup, but he hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence in his ability to carry the franchise. The Steelers should re-sign Jones, but they should consider drafting a quarterback at some point this year. A first round pick isn’t necessary, but maybe a day two guy. It’s better to get the future quarterback ready now instead of when Roethlisberger actually retires.