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Offseason Moves Around the AFC North

The Bengals went into the off-season looking to knock off Baltimore and Pittsburgh as the top team in the division, and their work in free agency and the draft has left them well-positioned to make that move.

Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati lost only aging veterans and solid, but replaceable, players in free agency. Just as important, they managed to re-sign DE Michael Johnson and OT Andre Smith. Cincinnati added to their linebacker depth by picking up OLB James Harrison and taking a flier on former first-round pick Aaron Maybin. On offense, the Bengals drafted two extremely talented players in TE Tyler Eifert and RB Giovani Bernard in the first two rounds. Combined with the plethora of talented young offensive players like WR A.J. Green and QB Andy Dalton, the Bengals appear to be on the verge of winning their first AFC North title since 2009.

Additions: OLB James Harrison, OLB Aaron Maybin
Re-signed: CB Adam Jones, OT Andre Smith, DE Michael Johnson, LB Rey Maualuga, DE Robert Geathers
Noteworthy Draft Picks: TE Tyler Eifert, RB Giovani Bernard
Losses: OLB Thomas Howard, CB Nate Clements, S Chris Crocker, DT Pat Sims, QB Bruce Gradkowski, OLB Manny Lawson, RB Brian Leonard

Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were in danger of losing two of their three best wide receivers, with Mike Wallace leaving and New England attempting to sign away Emmanuel Sanders. However, Pittsburgh ponied up for Sanders and beefed up all the skill positions on offense. Veteran Bruce Gradkowski was signed to back-up BeSteelersn Roethlisberger, running backs LaRod Stephens-Howland and Le’Veon Bell joined the backfield, and TE Matt Spaeth was brought back to fill in for the recovering Heath Miller. On defense, the departure of James Harrison continued a youth movement on the aging Pittsburgh roster as the team got a steal in the draft by taking OLB Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick. Questions remain along the offensive line, but the Steelers have improved and bolstered the majority of the depth chart in their attempt to return to the playoffs. 

Additions: QB Bruce Gradkowski, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, CB William Gay, TE Matt Spaeth, OT Guy Whimper, LB Larry Foote
Re-signed: WR Plaxico Burress, LB Stevenson Sylvester, OG Ramon Foster, WR Emmanuel Sanders, RB Jonathan Dwyer, DL Steven McLendon, RB Isaac Redman 
Noteworthy Draft Picks: OLB Jarvis Jones, RB Le’Veon Bell
Losses: WR Mike Wallace, CB Keenan Lewis, G Willie Colon, RB Rashard Mendenhall, OLB James Harrison, NT Casey Hampton, OT Max Starks

Cleveland Browns
The Browns entered the offseason in search of impact players after another disappointing season. Cleveland cut ties with QB Colt McCoy as well as talented but aging receiver Josh Cribbs and the young but NFLinconsistent Massaquoi. WR Davone Bess came over in a trade from the Miami Dolphins as a dependable slot receiver, and Cleveland bulked up the quarterback position, bringing in Jason Campbell as a proven back-up in case Brandon Weeden fails to produce in his second-year as a starter. The Browns made huge strides on defense, parting ways with a handful of veterans to clear space for a dynamic group of incoming free agents. Recent Super Bowl champion Paul Kruger and talented DL Desmond Bryant were added to a draft haul that included first-rounder Barkevious Mingo and a pair of decent cornerbacks. Cleveland added a large infusion of talent around a young core of developing players, creating some positive momentum heading into the season.

Additions: DL Desmond Bryant, OLB Paul Kruger, WR Davone Bess, OLB Quentin Groves, QB Jason Campbell, WR David Nelson, TE Kellen Davis, CB Chris Owens, CB Kevin Barnes
Noteworthy Draft Picks: DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo
Losses: CB Sheldon Brown, LB Kaluka Maiava, DE Juqua Parker, DE Frostee Rucker, WR Josh Cribbs, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, QB Colt McCoy

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens started off free agency in a serious cap quandary. After signing QB Joe Flacco for over $120 million dollars, the Ravens were forced to shed numerous quality players in order to stay underNFL the salary cap. Along with the retirement of LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore lost seven quality players to free agency. Despite the apparent lack of cap space, the Ravens bulked up the D by signing seven defensive players and drafting two more. The revamped defense should hold up after the infusion of new talent, yet real concerns remain at the wide receiver position as the Ravens lack any recognizable depth after starting wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Due to the high-profile losses to the roster, the reigning Super Bowl champion Ravens are flying under the radar heading into the start of the season as doubts on the ability to replace the lost talent calls into question the ability to defend their title.

Additions: OLB Elvis Dumervil, S Michael Huff, DE Chris Canty, DE Marcus Spears, C A.Q. Shipley, LB Daryl Smith
Re-signed: QB Joe Flacco, LB Albert McClellan, OT Bryant McKinnie, DE Arthur Jones, TE Dennis Pitta
Noteworthy Draft Picks: LB Arthur Brown, S Matt Elam
Losses: OLB Paul Kruger, WR Anquan Boldin, C Matt Birk, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, S Ed Reed, ILB Ray Lewis, CB Cary Williams, S Bernard Pollard

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