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NFL free agency frenzy: Updates on the active Browns, desperate Ravens and cash-strapped Steelers

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Which players have been added and lost by the Bengals’ AFC North opponents? We take a look at the Browns, Steelers and Ravens’ free agency news with the new league year here.

Green Bay Packers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The legal tampering period provided a solid foundation for who was moving where before the new NFL year and free agency actually began. But now, the new league year is finally here and free agency is officially underway. While the Browns and Ravens have made some interesting additions, the Steelers have basically just made cuts.

Note: If a team cut a player, I counted them as a loss. I haven’t counted players who are now free agents but still haven’t signed anywhere as a loss.

Baltimore Ravens

Additions

  • John Brown, WR, Cardinals
  • Ryan Grant, WR, Washington
  • James Hurst, OG, Ravens (re-signed)

Loses

  • Jeremy Maclin, WR (cut)
  • Danny Woodhead, RB (cut)
  • Austin Howard, OT (cut)
  • Lardarius Webb, DB (cut)

The Ravens are basically saying with their actions that the production their skill position players got in 2017 was nowhere near acceptable. Mike Wallace is hitting free agency, and the Raves cut Maclin and Woodhead after only one season each.

The team also parted ways with Webb, but he had been declining for several years. The team’s decision not to accept Howard’s option also sent him into the free agency pull, which has been pretty favorable for free agents so far.

The Team did re-sign Hurst, but it will be hard for them to replicate their success running the ball if they allow their center from last season, Ryan Jensen, to move on. However, given the current state of their cap it looks unlikely that they will be able to re-sign him and he’s taking visits elsewhere.

The big news for the Ravens have been the additions of Brown and Grant. Brown took a one-year prove it type deal, but Grant got a long term deal (four-years $29 million). That is pretty surprising considering he only had 45 catches for 573 yards last season with four touchdowns. It was a move the Ravens felt they had to make though with them losing out on every other free agent receiver. There is a report that they’re bringing in Jordy Nelson for a visit though.

(UPDATE: Nelson is finalizing a deal to join the Raiders and will be canceling his visit with the Ravens.)

With the way the Ravens have approached the offseason lately, we shouldn’t be surprised if a few of these additions get cut next offseason.

In other news, the Ravens tendered all seven of their exclusive rights free agents: Quincy Adeboyejo, Matt Skura, Alex Collins, Maurquice Shakir, Vince Mayle, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Patrick Onwuasor.

Cleveland Browns

Additions

Losses

  • Joe Thomas, OT (retired)
  • Isaiah Crowell, RB, Jets
  • Deshone Kizer, QB, Packers (trade)
  • Danny Shelton, DT, Patriots (trade)

I went more in depth about the Browns’ flurry of trades earlier this week, so I’m not going to really talk about them that much more now. They got some very talented players who should quickly help improve their team next year. Landry gives a nice safety blanket to Taylor who is better than any quarterback the Browns have had for a few seasons now. Randall should also be a starter as a safety, a position that really hurt Cleveland during the team’s 0-16 campaign.

Joining Randall in the secondary will be Carrie and Mitchell. Carrie had a very nice season with the Raiders last year. Although, it was hard to tell considering he was surrounded by complete garbage. Meanwhile, Mitchell got benched last year in Kansas City after a stretch of poor play. Cleveland is hoping a change of scenery does him some good.

Fells and Hyde will make nice additions to the offense. Hyde will likely fill Crowell’s role as he moved on to greener pastures. Fells will probably compete to be the No. 2 tight end behind David Njoku.

Smith also joined the Browns. He was a quality depth player for the Bengals, but the Browns were willing to give him a bigger contract than the Bengals would have ever considered (three-years $14 million). There lies the advantage of having an insane amount of cap space, but no one willing to take it.

The Browns also brought in Stephenson and Hubbard to help the offensive line, and Hubbard is really the big grab here. He was a solid player for the Steelers when they needed him. The question is how in the world will the Browns fill Thomas’ shoes now that he’s retired?

Thomas’ retirement rocked the NFL world as one of the greatest players of his generation called it a career on Wednesday. It really is disappointing that Thomas never saw real success in Cleveland. His best season was when the team finished 10-6 in 2007 with Derek Anderson lighting it up. They didn’t even make the playoffs though.

In fact, that was the only winning season he ever experienced as a player. It almost felt like he had more quarterbacks (20) than wins (48) over his career. He didn’t, but it’s way too close. Thomas will flourish during the next stage of his career, likely as a member of the media and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

UPDATE: the Browns have made a lot more cuts since this article was originally posted, they include cornerback Jason McCourty and wide receiver Sammie Coates.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Additions

None

Losses

  • Mike Mitchell, S (cut)
  • William Gay, CB (cut)
  • Robert Golden, S (cut)
  • Chris Hubbard, OT, Browns

The Steelers started off the offseason strapped for cap space. They reworked Antonio Brown’s deal as well as cutting three members of their secondary. Right now the Steelers are sitting at $3.9 million in cap space.

One way to make more cap space would be finding a way to sign Le’Veon Bell to a long-term deal. Right now, Bell has a $14.5 million cap hit due to his second straight franchise tag. The Steelers could give Bell a huge signing bonus in order to persuade him into possibly taking a lower salary over his first few years of the deal.

It seems like this could be unlikely since it has been reported that Bell still feels the team isn’t offering him what he is worth. It is very doubtful that the two sides come to an agreement soon. That’s especially true if we’re talking about it being soon enough for the Steelers to sign any noteworthy players.

As of now, the Steelers have made cuts but no signings at all.