With kicking off the free agency thoughts covering the Browns the other day, I figured next we would take a look at the rest of the AFC North.
Lets start with the obvious, the WR situation. This is a mess. The Ravens signed Washington’s Ryan Grant to a hefty 4 year deal for $29 million, which included $14.5 million in guaranteed money, on the first day of free agency last week. Fantasy twitter exploded. Then on March 15th The Oakland Raider released Michael Crabtree and magically hours later, Ryan Grant’s contract was voided for “Failing a physical.” The next day Crabtree signs with Baltimore for a 3 year$21 million contract. The timing of all this is suspect to say the least. It’s hard not to feel bad for Grant, but he also probably should never have been signed to that contract. Wild situation all around. It’s easy to imagine the pressure Baltimore felt after that contract as they were getting torn apart for the signing and then a better FA become available days later. I know it is a business and from a real football; and even a fantasy perspective, this was a better move for the Ravens, but its hard not to feel like it was as shady a move as a team could make in free agency.
Baltimore also signed Arizona’s John Brown on march 13th and then released Jeremy Maclin the next day after only one season with the team. So now the revamped WR core of Baltimore consists of Michael Crabtree and John Brown. That is not inspiring. I like Crabtree and the probable target volume for the upcoming year in fantasy. Brown, if he can stay healthy (that feels like a huge IF), will also have decent value as a late round filer that you can roll out in a favorable match up, which it looks like Baltimore may have a few of those for sure.
I am still curious what the team decides to do with Mike Wallace. My best guess is he is also released and team looks to grab a WR in round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft. They should grab DJ Moore, but I bet they end up going with Calvin Ridley instead. They also finally tendered RB Alex Collins, I don’t know why this wasn’t done right away as he proved he can be a workhorse back for this team, providing strong running, something this team has lacked, since the departure of Ray Rice. Last year Collins ran for 973 yards (4.6 a clip) and 6 TDs. Not bad for a guy who was dropped by the Seahawks prior to week 1. Kenneth Dixon figures to get a shot at making this a RBBC, but I think Collins talent will win out with Dixon being used sparingly to spell Collins.
Baltimore has signed;
-WR John Brown to a one-year, $5 million (prove it) contract.
-WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year, $21 million contract.
They have Re-signed;
-LG James Hurst
-DE Brent Urban.
They have released;
-RB Danny Woodhead (who has announced his retirement).
-DB Lardarius Webb.
———-RAVENS 2018 OPPONETS———-
HOME OPPONENTS: Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Bengals, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills
AWAY OPPONENTS: Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans
I am just gonna say it. I know it was rough in Cincy before Marvin Lewis arrived, but I think it is time to move on from him as a head coach. The Bengals have lived in mediocrity for too long. Since 2003 when Lewis was named the head coach, he has taken the team to the playoffs 7 times, they have lost all 7 of those playoff games. And why is 7 playoff appearances in 14 years impressive anyway? Oh right…because Cincy went to the playoffs just once from 1990 to 2003, and that one time was in 1990. But hey, at least they won one of those playoff games in 1990!
The most fantasy relevant move so far is the re-signing of Tyler Eifert. He has a strong rapport already with Andy Dalton and should retain his target volume in the offense if he is back healthy. Which if you believe him, he is. I like that they also have not been connected to any FA WR so far, opening good possibilities for John Ross, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Cody Core. The walking of Jeremy Hill also seems to imply a much larger work load for Joe Mixon. I like it for him but expect to see Gio still worked into passing downs more than fantasy owners would like. Still a chance this team drafts a RB but if they don’t, look for 2nd year RB Brian Hill to step up and try to make a name for himself. Hill was someone I was high on going into last years NFL draft. Lets see what they do in the draft.
So far Cincinnati has signed;
-OT Bobby Hart to a one-year, $1.005 million contract.
-DT Chris Baker to a one-year, $2.45 million contract.
-LB Preston Brown to a one-year, $4 million contract.
– QB Matt Barkley to a two-year, $3.35 million contract.
They have Re-signed;
-P Kevin Huber to a three-year, $7.95 million contract.
-TE Tyler Eifert to a one-year, $5.5 million contract.
They have released;
-CB Adam Jones.
-RB Jeremy Hill left as a FA.
———-BENGALS 2018 OPPONENTS———-
HOME OPPONENTS: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns
AWAY OPPONENTS: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns
The biggest news here is Le’Veon Bell, just as it was this time last year. The Steelers assigned the Franchise Tag on him once again, and once again Bell figures to possibly sit out until week 1, passing on all OTAs and Training camp. Now that didn’t matter much last year as he had 1,946 total yards and 11 TDs in 2017. At only 26 Pittsburgh needs to get a deal done to keep Bell on the field for the next 3 years. With Big Ben’s tenure most likely coming to an end after 2018, you will need a back like Bell to keep you in a position to help a young/new QB to succeed.
With that being said, Big Ben, will have a great group of weapons for one last run at the Super Bowl. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Juju Smith-Schuster all figure to be prominent fixtures of this offense to go along with a premiere running game. I also wouldn’t be shocked it the Steelers draft a WR in the draft to replace Bryant going into next season.
As for the draft, I would LOVE to see Pittsburgh grab Louisville QB Lamar Jackson at 28 overall if he is still there. Sitting behind Ben for one year and then steeping in next year with Brown and Bell (if they can re-sign him) would keep that team in a position to win for the next 4-8 years.
The Steelers so far have signed;
-ILB Jon Bostic to a two-year contract.
-S Morgan Burnett to an undisclosed contract.
They have Re-signed;
-CB Mike Hilton to a one-year, $555,000 contract.
–P Jordan Berry to a one-year, $1.887 million contract.
–FB Roosevelt Nix to a four-year, $6.975 million contract.
-RB Fitzgerald Toussaint to a one-year, $790,000 contract.
The team has released;
–CB William Gay.
–S Mike Mitchell
-S Robert Golden.
———-STEELERS 2018 OPPONENTS———–
HOME OPPONENTS: Baltimore ravens, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers
AWAY OPPONENTS: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland raiders, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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