The AFC North is going to look a lot different in 2021. It seems like just about every team has a story about a major contributor being interested in joining or leaving any of the other teams. Here are some of the biggest stories surrounding the rest of the AFC North.
Who would have ever thought that the Browns would be near the top of the list of teams for an experienced veteran looking to join a contender? 2020 was a strange season, but the strangest thing may have been just how close the Browns were to defeating the Chiefs and advancing to the AFC Championship game.
The team seemed to take major strides under new head coach Kevin Stefanski and Baker Mayfield. So it comes as no surprise that a player like Watt may consider joining the crew. However, it comes down to more than Cleveland’s championship prospects. The Browns also have enough cap to not force Watt to take a discount to compete for that ring. They also will be able to field Myles Garrett on the defensive line with him, which would be a welcome change of pace for the veteran.
This move likely wouldn’t be a popular one at family gatherings as the Steelers’ T.J. Watt has already also publicly recruited his brother to join him in Pittsburgh. It is hard to argue that The Browns may be the better competitive and financial decision for the elder Watt.
Pouncey was one of the better Steeler offensive linemen of the past decade. When he was healthy, he was a huge driving force in their successful running game, and he had become one of the bigger vocal leaders in that locker room.
His absence will leave some pretty big shoes to fill despite his play falling off these past couple of seasons. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see them try to address the trenches at some point in free agency or the draft this offseason, which means they and the Bengals could be competing for some similar names as they will look to upgrade beyond their center position.
The Ravens are facing a very strange situation. They watched their young right tackle fill in very well at left tackle in 2020 for Ronnie Stanley, which should’ve been great news. Now Brown has grown an ego and wants to remain at left tackle and also get paid.
It is an unusual decision for the young player to get upset about such a thing at this stage in his career, but ultimately it seems like it may end up with the Ravens getting some pretty good compensation for a player they seemingly would’ve lost anyway. Tackles are a premium position right now in the NFL, and especially such a young one would be a great get for just about any team.
The Bengals shouldn’t seriously pursue this route. Ravens likely would ask for way more to send him inside the division, and then he will be looking for a huge contract. Cincinnati is in prime position to end up with a good to solid tackle in the draft at a fraction of the cost. This does mean that Baltimore will also likely be looking to draft Brown’s replacement at some point, which is something Cincinnati should be aware of when planning out their draft strategy.