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AFC North: Looking at the Steelers, Bengals and Browns' offseason needs

AFC North: Looking at the Steelers, Bengals and Browns' offseason needs

For many NFL teams, the offseason is when the rebuilding begins.

WIth the Feb. 20 opening of the franchise tag period earlier this week and with the NFL Combine begining next week, the rebuilding starts fast and happens faster. 

Before you know it September will be here.

The next few months are critical for teams to address team needs, adjust their salary cap situations and plan for the future.

For the Steelers, Bengals and Browns, their needs vary as each team has had very different levels of success.

In 2017, the Steelers were serious contenders to win Super Bowl LII and then you have the Browns who couldn't win a single game.

We've taken a look at the Ravens' biggest offseason needs, but how about their AFC North rivals? 


Pittsburgh Steelers: 

There were some questionable coaching decisions in the Steelers' 45-42 AFC Championship loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Down by seven with two timeouts and the two minute warning, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to go with an onside kick instead of punting with 2:18 left.  As you guessed it, the onside kicked didn't go in their favor and ultimately ended their playoff run. Many called for the firing of Tomlin after the questionable call.

That didn't happen but the team was still left with concerns about their future heading into the offseason.

Running back Le'veon Bell played 2017 on the team's exclusive franchise tag after the two couldn't come to an agreement on a long-term deal. Bell said they're closer in negotiations this year than last, and it would be difficult to see the organization let one of the best backs in the league just walk away.

Another big question mark is addressing the inside linebacker position with Ryan Shazier's future questionable after suffering a scary spinal injury. 

Ben Standig's most recent mock draft has the Steelers taking ILB, Rashaan Evans out of Alabama in the first-round.

Cincinnati Bengals:

During the end of the 2017 regular season, there was narrative from head coach Marvin Lewis that he would be exploring other opportunities after 15 seasons with the team.

In those 15 seasons, the organization made seven playoff runs but did not win a single playoff game, leaving many to question why Lewis was still a part of the organization. 

Well, the Bengals proved their loyalty to Lewis and gave him an extension through the 2019 season, making the head coach question obsolete.

Now the biggest question is can they rebuild their offense? They lost Pro Bowler's Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth during 2017 free agency. They've already fired O-line coach Paul Alexander to kick the rebuilding process off. 

In Ben Standig's latest mock draft, he has the Bengals taking offensive tackle Mike McGlinchy out of Notre Dame at No. 12.

Cleveland Browns:

The Browns, man. Where to start?

Luckily, the have the No.1 and No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, almost guaranteeing them two successful players.

Their most glaring need, like seasons past, has been finding their man under center. So far they haven't had any luck, but maybe that could change this season with a veteran like Kirk Cousins. Even drafting someone like Sam Darnold out of USC and developing him under Cousins has the potential for success. Standing's mock draft then has the team taking running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State at No.4.

The future looks as promising as ever for the Browns.


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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

And with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select.... a quarterback?

Assistant general manager, and soon to be general manager, Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility that the Ravens use their first-round pick on drafting a quarterback to eventually replace Joe Flacco. 

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of draft a quarterback in the first-round. 

Quarterback is just one of many offensive needs for the team. Joe Flacco's stats have been trending downward as the 33-year old is entering his 11th season.


Owner Steve Bisciotti though may disagree with DeCosta.

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference, Bisciotti said, "That’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry," in regards to looking at life after Joe. Bisciotti also noted the team would be looking at all options in free agency and the draft for weapons for their QB.

From the sound of that, it appears the team's first choice would be a wideout, but the Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback since Joe Flacco back in 2008. 

The 2018 NFL Draft class has a handful of strong quarterbacks to choose from and not a ton of first-round wide receivers. 

Former Ravens scout, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has predicted the team with take Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the first-round. 

"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said

Backup Ryan Mallet is a free agent so the organization will have to find someone to fill the role, whether it's someone on a one year-deal, or the future QB of the franchise. 


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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Schefter.

After being released by the Raiders on Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.