2007 Offseason Needs
AFC North
Baltimore Ravens (Last Year: 13-3).
Season Summary:
Steve McNair provided stability at the quarterback position that Baltimore had been looking for since Trent Dilfer barked out the signals in 2000. Well, at least we thought he would -- McNair played like Kyle Boller against the Colts.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
RB Musa Smith, FB Ovie Mughelli, FB Nick Luchey, WR Alex Bannister, OT Tony Pashos, DE Jarret Johnson, NT Aubrayo Franklin, OLB Adalius Thomas, ILB Tim Johnson, S Gerome Sapp.
Restricted Free Agents:
WR Clarence Moore, WR Devard Darling, PR B.J. Sams.
Potential Cap Casualties:
RB Jamal Lewis, RB Mike Anderson, OT Jonathan Ogden (possible retirement).

Cap Status (as of 2/18): $3.3 million under.

Offseason Needs:
  1. Two Offensive Tackles: Reduce the number of offensive tackles needed to one if Tony Pashos re-signs with the team. Reduce it to zero if Jonathan Ogden doesn't retire. Ogden, a perennial Pro Bowler, is seriously considering hanging it up.
  2. Running Back: Jamal Lewis will likely be cut because of cap restraints, which will prompt Baltimore to draft a running back like Tony Hunt in the second round. Traded for Willis McGahee.
  3. Guard: In addition to its potential problems at the offensive tackle positions, Baltimore needs help at guard... Drafted Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda.
  4. Center: ...and at center.
  5. Outside Linebacker: Given the Ravens' salary-cap issues, re-signing Adalius Thomas could be too daunting a task. If Thomas lands with another team, they'll need a new outside linebacker. Drafted Antwan Barnes and Prescott Burgess.
  6. Wide Receiver: Steve McNair has Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, but he needs a reliable third option at receiver. Drafted Yamon Figurs.
  7. Quarterback: McNair is an upgrade over Kyle Boller, but he's too old and brittle to lead the Ravens deep into the postseason. I'd like to see Brian Billick draft a young quarterback in the third round. Drafted Troy Smith.
  8. Fullback: The Ravens need a fullback to replace Ovie Mughelli. Drafted Le'Ron McClain.

Analysis: If the Ravens' financial restrictions prevent them from making the necessary moves in free agency, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati may pass them in the AFC North.


Cincinnati Bengals (Last Year: 8-8).
Season Summary:
A year after Cincinnati's heralded quarterback suffered a torn ACL and MCL on his initial pass attempt in the playoffs, the team accumulated more arrests than victories.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
QB Anthony Wright, RB Kenny Watson, WR Kelley Washington, TE Reggie Kelly, TE Tony Stewart, G Eric Steinbach, C Rich Braham, DE Justin Smith, OLB Marcus Wilkins, CB Tory James, CB Rashad Bauman, S Kevin Kaesviharn, S Anthony Mitchell.
Restricted Free Agents:
G Stacy Andrews, DT Shaun Smith, OLB Landon Johnson, OLB Caleb Miller, CB Greg Brooks, P Kyle Larson.
Potential Cap Casualties:
WR Chris Henry, DT Sam Adams, DT John Thornton, CB Deltha O'Neal.

Cap Status (as of 2/18): $18.7 million under.

Offseason Needs:
  1. Defensive Tackle: The Bengals couldn't stop the run because Sam Adams and John Thornton didn't live up to expectations. Acquiring two talented defensive tackles is imperative. Signed Michael Myers; drafted Matt Toeaina.
  2. Re-Sign Eric Steinbach: Cincinnati's left guard happens to be one of the top players at his position, and one of the hottest commodities this offseason. If the Bengals let Steinbach walk, they'll need to find a new guard just in case Andrew Whitworth doesn't pan out. Drafted Dan Santucci.
  3. Outside Linebacker: David Pollack unfortunately may have suffered a career-ending injury before the season began. The Bengals will need a replacement. Re-signed Landon Johnson.
  4. Cornerback: Tory James and Deltha O'Neal are pretty much done in Cincinnati. Jonathan Joseph and Keiwan Ratliff will most likely be the starting corners next year. If that's the case, the Bengals must add some depth. Drafted Leon Hall.
  5. Defensive End: If Cincinnati wants to get back into the playoffs, it'll need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks; the defense generated only 35 sacks in 2006. Justin Smith is a free agent, which only complicates matters. Re-signed Smith.
  6. Tight End: The Bengals have needed a quality tight end for years now. Because Reggie Kelley will likely defect for another team, they may actually sign someone in free agency. Daniel Graham would be a nice fit. Re-signed Kelley.
  7. Safety: Help at strong safety wouldn't hurt. Michael Lewis would be a nice addition. Drafted Marvin White and Chinedum Ndukwe; signed Blue Adams.
  8. Wide Receiver: With Chris Henry frequently appearing on Cops and Kelley Washington hitting free agency, Carson Palmer will need a new No. 3 option.

Analysis: Here's an unusual goal: The Bengals should try to cut their arrests in half and add those to their win total. Given the nature of their players, however, that's simply impossible.


Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Year: 8-8).
Season Summary:
Pittsburgh's season was doomed before it even started; Ben Roethlisberger suffered through a motorcycle accident and an exploding appendix, and consequently looked lost all year.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
RB Najeh Davenport, WR Sean Morey, WR Lee Mays, G Barrett Brooks, DE Rodney Bailey, OLB Chad Brown, CB Chidi Iwuoma, S Mike Logan, S Tyrone Carter, S Andre Lott.
Restricted Free Agents:
QB Brian St. Pierre, OT Max Starks.
Potential Cap Casualties:
C Jeff Hartings (retired), CB Deshea Townsend.

Cap Status (as of 2/18): $3.1 million under.

Offseason Needs:
  1. Outside Linebacker: There were far too many occasions in 2006 when the Steelers just couldn't get to the quarterback (they failed to register a single sack against Baltimore in two games). It also hurts that both Joey Porter was released on March 1. Drafted Lawrence Timmons.
  2. Offensive Tackle: Pittsburgh's offensive line surrendered a whopping 49 sacks in 2006. The team clearly needs better play from its offensive tackles. Levi Brown is just one of many options it should consider with the No. 15 selection.
  3. Inside Linebacker: James Farrior just turned 32, which could prompt Pittsburgh to find someone younger and more talented to take his spot in the lineup.
  4. Running Back: The Steelers really missed Jerome Bettis last year, as they didn't have a big complementary back for Willie Parker. T.J. Duckett would be a temporary fix, while a long-term solution could be second-round prospects Michael Bush and Tony Hunt. Signed Kevan Barlow.
  5. Cornerback: Pittsburgh needs a solid No. 2 cornerback to team with Ike Taylor. Rod Hood could be a solid and cheap option via free agency. Drafted William Gay.
  6. Center: The Steelers must acquire to take Jeff Hartings' spot. Signed Sean Mahan.
  7. Defensive End: Aaron Smith, who will soon turn 31, happens to be a free agent next year. Adam Carriker, who may be available at No. 15, would be a solid replacement for him. Signed Nick Eason; drafted LaMarr Woodley.
  8. Wide Receiver: Obtaining a solid No. 3 option for Ben Roethlisberger would be beneficial. Drafted Dallas Baker.
  9. Punter: Pittsburgh needs a punter. Drafted Daniel Sepulevda.

Analysis: If the Steelers plug some of the holes on their defense, and Roethlisberger goes unscathed this summer, they could be back atop the AFC North in 2007.


Cleveland Browns (Last Year: 4-12).
Season Summary:
One horrible, injury-ridden season, and Browns fans want to jettison Romeo Crennel. No wonder the city of Cleveland hasn't had a winner in decades.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
WR Dennis Northcutt, G Cosey Coleman, G Lennie Friedman, C Hank Fraley, DE Alvin McKinley, DE Nick Eason, CB Ralph Brown, S Brian Russell.
Restricted Free Agents:
OT Nat Dorsey, NT Ethan Kelley, ILB Mason Unck.
Potential Cap Casualties:
RB Reuben Droughns, OT Ryan Tucker, CB Gary Baxter.

Cap Status (as of 2/18): $26.2 million under.

Offseason Needs:
  1. Quarterback: Romeo Crennel's primary goal should be to acquire a quarterback with some mobility who could avoid defenders behind an abysmal offensive line. If he can't obtain Matt Schaub, he should sign Seneca Wallace away from Seattle. Drafting a quarterback in the first round is out of the question; Cleveland has way too many other needs. Drafted Brady Quinn.
  2. Offensive Tackle: While Ryan Tucker is off getting treated for his mental disorders, Cleveland's quarterbacks are getting pounded into the ground. Tony Ugoh and Joseph Staley are both solid options in the second round. Drafted Joe Thomas.
  3. Running Back: If the Browns don't draft Adrian Peterson at No. 3 or 4, I'd like to see them trade their second-round pick to San Diego for Michael Turner. Signed Jamal Lewis.
  4. Center: LeCharles Bentley is out for the 2007 season. What a shame.
  5. Two Cornerbacks: Gary Baxter's stint with Cleveland is likely finished. Daylon McCutcheon isn't anything special. And to make matters worse, there's no depth. General manager Phil Savage has the money to sign Nate Clements or Asante Samuel. The latter played under Crennel in New England. Drafted Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald; signed Kenny Wright.
  6. Safety: Brian Russell, a free agent, probably won't be back in the Dawg Pound next year. Cleveland will need to find a worthy substitute. Ken Hamlin and Deon Grant would be solid options. Signed Mike Adams.
  7. Nose Tackle: Ted Washington turns 39 this spring. The Browns must obtain a long-term solution.
  8. Outside Linebacker: The same goes for Willie McGinest and the outside linebacker slot.
  9. Guard: Cosey Coleman's a free agent, but Cleveland needs an upgrade anyway. Stealing Eric Steinbach away from Cincinnati would be a great move. Signed Eric Steinbach.
  10. Wide Receiver: Braylon Edwards has off-the-field issues, Joe Jurevicius is not talented enough to start, Dennis Northcutt is a free agent, and everyone else stinks. Crennel and Savage must do something about this. Traded for Tim Carter; drafted Syndric Steptoe.

Analysis: If Crennel and Savage can't turn things around in 2007, they'll both be unemployed come January. But If the Browns can stay healthy, they could have a shot at the playoffs; Pittsburgh and Baltimore are strapped with severe cap restrictions this offseason.


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