Consistency and competition are two words that come to mind regarding the AFC North division. In 2022, the teams finished in the same order that they had in 2021, with the Bengals winning the crown, the Ravens settling for runner-up, the Steelers coming in third and the Browns taking up the rear. Each team went 3-3 in the AFC North in what continues to be one of the best divisions in football.
The division’s two best teams played in an epic wild card showdown that was decided by Sam Hubbard’s 98-yard fumble return for a score. In what could be a foreshadow of things to come, the Ravens played that game without Lamar Jackson, whose future in Baltimore has and will continue to be a hot-button topic.
They didn’t make the playoffs, but the Steelers did go 9-8 while running their streak of non-losing seasons to 19. Pittsburgh went 7-2 down the stretch on the strength of T.J. Watt’s return, Minkah Fitzpatrick’s All-Pro exploits and Kenny Pickett’s improved play during his rookie season. For a 33rd straight year, the Steelers finished ahead of the Browns, who suffered their second straight losing season despite boasting one of the league’s best rushing attacks.
With free agency just weeks away, here’s a look at the biggest needs for each AFC North team.
Note: Projected cap space is courtesy of Over the Cap.
Top needs: WR, CB, EDGE, LG, QB
Cap space: $24.3M (9th)
Top draft picks: No. 23, No. 86
Baltimore’s first order of business is figuring out the future of Jackson, who could find himself playing elsewhere next season if he and the Ravens do not agree on a long-term deal. The Ravens would surely get a hefty return if they trade him (which would require him getting franchise tagged again), but Baltimore would obviously prefer to keep the former league MVP.
Regardless of what happens at quarterback, the Ravens needs to upgrade their receiving corps. DJ Chark, Allen…
Source link : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2023-nfl-offseason-needs-afc-north-priorities-for-ravens-bengals-browns-steelers-ahead-of-free-agency/
Author : Bryan DeArdo
Publish date : 2023-03-04 17:53:16
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