Thanks to Pro Football Guru, we can look at every team’s additions and losses in free agency that’s updated on a daily basis.
My final write up is the AFC North, which features the runner-up NFC Champion Green Bay Packers.
Note: For the sake of these series of articles, I’m only looking at players who were on the roster in 2016 who will no longer be there in 2017. Likewise, I’m looking at guys who were not on the roster in 2016, but will now be in 2017 (in-house re-signings and draft selections excluded)
The Steelers finished 2016 on a seven-game winning streak, but fell short once again to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Loss: Lawrence Timmons (Dolphins)
The Steelers will be without Timmons for the first time since 2006. He had a great career in Pittsburgh, but they opted to go younger and let him walk. Because of his longevity and comradery with the team alone, he’s the biggest loss of the offseason.
Addition: Coty Sensabaugh (Giants)
Sensabaugh isn’t a huge addition, but the Steelers need help in their secondary and he offers some at a cheap price. The Steelers didn’t make many moves in free agency; they retained the guys they needed to and didn’t overspend for anyone. But Sensabaugh gives them some depth at the position and can fill in whenever and wherever he’s needed.
The Ravens had a tough 2016, but went 4-2 in the division and have an easier slate of opponents in 2017.
Loss: Timmy Jernigan (traded to Eagles)
This was a tough choice; the Ravens lost some valuable players via free agency and retirement. Steve Smith’s career is over, and everyone is going to miss him. Tackle Ricky Wagner is now a Detroit Lion; Elvis Dumervil was released. But I think Jernigan is the no. 1 player the Ravens will miss most – he’s only 24 (25 in September) and is one of the better defensive lineman in football. The Ravens pride themselves in the trenches, and Jernigan will be missed.
Addition: Tony Jefferson (from ARI)
While the Ravens lost a few valuable players, they also added a few. Jeremy Maclin will be a big boost to a questionable receiving core, while Danny Woodhead is a reliable option out of the backfield and can do it all. The Ravens have had major holes in their secondary, and corners Brandon Carr and Brandon Boykin should help fill in. But Tony Jefferson is their key addition, to me, because he will immediately be the anchor of their secondary.
The Bengals just couldn’t put it together in 2016, and injuries to their skill position players were a major reason why.
Loss: Andrew Whitworth (Rams)
The Bengals’ offense is one of balance, and it all starts with protecting Andy Dalton. Andrew Whitworth has been at the forefront of that protection since joining Cincinnati in 2006. He’s only missed two starts since 2009, and none in the last three seasons. The Bengals also lost Guard Kevin Zeitler, DT Domata Peko and promising dual-threat running back Rex Burkhead, but Whitworth is a veteran who will be missed both on and off the field.
Addition: Andre Smith (from Vikings)
As mentioned, protection is key for the Bengals offense. They lost two starters on their offensive line, but gave Andre Smith a one-year, “prove it” deal that will need to prove worthy for the Bengals to resign him to a longer contract. The Bengals know Smith well; he was drafted by them in 2009 and played in Cincinnati until Smith played four games with the Vikings last year before a triceps injury sidelined him for the season. He’ll likely start at right guard for the Bengals in 2017, and I think he’s the key addition for a team that lost multiple starters along their front.
The Browns had a really strong offseason, and they’re actually headed in the right direction. They’ll compete in 2017, but still have a couple years before we can start to take them serious.
Loss: Terrelle Pryor (Redskins)
The Browns made some much-needed, major moves this offseason, and had a promising draft. One questionable decision was letting quarterback-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor walk in free agency. He was a bright spot for Cleveland; he truly made great strides in 2016. He’s one of the most interesting players in the league considering his major transition from QB to WR, and the fact that he showed a lot of promise at a new position was something Browns fans were excited about last season. The Browns will miss him, especially if he continues to expand his craft and turns into a complete wide receiver.
Addition: Kenny Britt (from Rams)
This was a tough choice; the Browns had a couple of solid hauls in exchange for their losses via free agency this offseason. They addressed their offensive line by signing Center J.C. Tretter, Guard Kevin Zeitler, C/G Marcus Martin and T Matt McCants. They also shored up their secondary by signing Jason McCourty and Calvin Pryor. But after letting go of their best receiver on their roster, they signed one that should fill that role in Kenny Britt. Britt has been inconsistent and has faced some injuries in his eight-year career, but he had his best season by far last year on an incompetent Rams’ team. He put up career-highs in both catches (68) and receiving yards (1,002). He’ll be the Browns’ no. 1 receiver while helping second-year, promising receiver Corey Coleman get more looks.