AFC North:Perfect Off-season 2023
There's no such thing as perfect, but in this scenario I get to play GM for a day and do my best to "fix" each franchise (as if it's that easy).
It's really just something that I enjoy doing and why not share it with all of you!
This series is dependent on every other team, so you won't see the same player be signed to multiple teams.
BUT, this will be mainly offense based. So, I will mention the salary cap and draft pick implications, but I'm not going to include an entire salary cap breakdown.
If you haven't already you check out the rest of the perfect off-season series here;
https://www.theffanalyst.com/post/afc-east-perfect-off-season-2023 (AFC EAST)
That being said, let's breakdown the AFC North and see what moves I think each team could/should be making in the 2023 Offseason!
Last Year's Record: 9-8
2023 Estimated Cap Space: $1,228,747
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (1), 2nd (2), 3rd (1), 4th (1), 7th (1)
Notable Free Agents; Larry Ogunjobi (DT), Mason Rudolph (QB), Devin Bush (LB), Cameron Sutton (CB)
Well, the Steelers aren't in negative cap space, and don't have any critical free agents. All good signs for a team that should/could make a playoff run next year.
Now let's breakdown the offseason in it's main pillars, coaching changes, free agency, and the draft.
Coaching; There unfortunately won't be any coaching changes here. Every Steelers fan would probably love to see Matt Canada get the boot, as would I.
Free Agency; The Steelers need to keep their key players and add depth that can actually make an impact. If I'm the Steelers, here are some notable moves I'm making on offense.
+ Teddy Bridgewater (QB)
+ Sterling Shepard (WR)
+ N'Keal Harry (WR)
+ Eric Saubert (TE)
- Mitchell Trubisky (QB)
- Mason Rudolph (QB)
- Benny Snell (RB)
- Zach Gentry (TE)
Replace Trubisky + Rudolph with a solid veteran backup like Bridgewater. Give Pickett full confidence and have a guy he can learn from behind him without breaking the bank.
Najee and Warren make for a great duo. Any added RB depth works here, can likely get away with just keeping McFarland or drafting a late round RB.
Outside of Diontae and Pickens, there needs to be some depth. Shepard has trouble staying healthy but is a great compliment to the offense if he can. While Harry is an upside perimeter play who really just acts as depth.
Replacing Gentry with a blocking vet like Saubert isn't a bad thing. Pat is the guy and Connor Hayward is the backup.
2023 NFL Draft; The best thing for the Steelers to do is to protect Pickett, but they also need secondary help. That's why I have the Steelers picking (CB) Kelee Ringo. Given that they also have the 32nd pick (technically 2nd Round), I have them using that pick to shore up the OL.
So altogether, here's what the Steelers' starting offense would look like in 2023...
QB - Kenny Pickett
RB - Najee Harris
WR - Diontae Johnson
WR - George Pickens
WR - Sterling Shepard
TE - Pat Freiermuth
Not much offensive change, but the depth and experience will make a difference!
Last Year's Record: 7-10
2023 Estimated Cap Space: -$14,445,606
2023 Draft Picks: 2nd (1), 3rd (1), 4th (2), 5th (2), 6th (1), 7th (1)
Notable Free Agents; Deion Jones (LB), Jadeveon Clowney (DE), Kareem Hunt (RB), Jacoby Brissett (QB), Anthony Walker (LB), Ethan Pocic (OL)
Negative Cap Space isn't great for the Browns, but they can afford to let a chunk of their FAs walk and have enough depth to get through it. It really all just falls on Deshaun Watson to be the player the Texans had (on the field).
Free Agency; The Browns need to solidify their offense and give Watson consistent weapons. If I'm the Browns, here are some notable moves I'm making on offense.
+ Nick Mullens (QB)
+ James Robinson (RB)
+ D'Ernest Johnson (RB)
+ Mecole Hardman (WR)
- Jacoby Brissett (QB)
- Kareem Hunt (RB)
Jacoby served great as a backup, but he has likely priced himself out of re-signing with the Browns. Mullens is a decent backup and will save the team some money.
Kareem Hunt has been wanting a trade for quite some time, so give him his wish and let him walk into free agency. Shore up the RB position with James Robinson and retain D'Ernest Johnson.
Mecole Hardman is a nice speedy addition to the offense. He can work well next to Amari and DPJ as the team's slot receiver.
2023 NFL Draft; So the Browns have no 1st Round pick thanks to Watson, and given their holes at defense using their 2nd Round Pick on an offensive players won't make much sense. Best to take the best pass rusher available to replace Clowney and help Garrett.
So altogether, here's what the Browns' starting offense would look like in 2023...
QB - Deshaun Watson
RB - Nick Chubb
WR - Amari Cooper
WR - Donovan Peoples-Jones
WR - Mecole Hardman
TE - David Njoku
Hoping Watson can take a step forward in 2023!
Last Year's Record: 12-4
2023 Estimated Cap Space: $43,919,058 (4th Most)
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (1), 2nd (1), 3rd (1), 4th (1), 5th (1), 6th (1), 7th (1)
Notable Free Agents; Jessie Bates III (S), Vonn Bell (S), Eli Apple (CB), Samaje Perine (RB)
The Bengals have a full range of draft picks, the 4th Most Cap Space, and most of their major pieces still under contract. On top of all of that, there are currently about to compete in the AFC Championship game to go to their second Super Bowl in 2 Years!
Free Agency; The Bengals are already loaded offensively, but when you have that much money you can't be afraid to spend! If I'm the Bengals, here are some notable moves I'm making on offense.
+ Brandon Allen (QB)
+ Same Perine (RB)
+ Deonte Harty (WR)
+ Mike Gesicki (TE)
- Hayden Hurst (TE)
The biggest additions here are (WR) Deonte Harty and (TE) Mike Gesicki. Harty is a good depth piece and a fantastic special teams player (which they need). Gesicki can replace Hurst and be even more effective in the redzone. Plus who wouldn't want to see Gesicki gritty next to Ja'Marr Chase?
2023 NFL Draft; The Bengals likely will take someone Clark Phillips III (CB) or Antonio Johnson (S) with their 1st Rounder. Either works as both players can replace a key part of their defense that they might lose in free agency.
So altogether, here's what the Bengals' starting offense would look like in 2023...
QB - Joe Burrow
RB - Joe Mixon
WR - Ja'Marr Chase
WR - Tee Higgins
WR - Tyler Boyd
TE - Mike Gesicki
The Bengals are STILL rolling!!! #WhoDey
Last Year's Record: 10-7
2023 Estimated Cap Space: $27,067,479
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (1), 3rd (1), 4th (1), 5th (1), 6th (1)
Notable Free Agents; Lamar Jackson (QB), Marcus Peters (CB), Justin Houston (DE), Tyler Huntley (QB)
The elephant in the room is being able to sign Lamar Jackson, and both sides are working towards a deal as far as we know. The contract will likely be close to $40M Annually and deservingly so.
Coaching; The Ravens recently interviewed Georgia OC Todd Monken, which is a great pick. He really has taken Georgia's offense to the next level and helped them win back to back titles. He would be my pick to replace Greg Roman.
Free Agency; The next step is getting Lamar weapons, which he desperately needs. If I'm the Ravens, here are some notable moves I'm making on offense.
+ Lamar Jackson (QB)
+ Tyler Huntley (QB)
+ Ty Johnson (RB)
+ Michael Thomas (WR) Saints Released Him
+ Demarcus Robinson (WR)
- Justice Hill (RB)
- Kenyan Drake (RB)
- Sammy Watkins (WR)
Lamar gets his contract, and Huntley continues to serve as his backup in Baltimore.
But in the biggest news, I have the Saints attempting to trade Thomas, and eventually releasing him and eating the dead money. Given MT's struggle to stay healthy, the Saints I predict will be unwilling to settle for a low draft choice and choose to release him before he is owed more money. The Ravens jump at the opportunity.
I also have the Ravens letting go of Marcus Peters, which in turns will save some cap space as well.
2023 NFL Draft; The Ravens will likely want to keep adding to the WR room. Which is why I have them drafting (WR) Jaxon Smith-Njigba out of Ohio State in the 1st Round. Between him, Bateman, and MT, Lamar should be happy with that.
So altogether, here's what the Ravens' starting offense would look like in 2023...
QB - Lamar Jackson
RB - J.K. Dobbins
WR - Michael Thomas
WR - Rashod Bateman
WR - Jaxon Smith-Njigba
TE - Mark Andrews
This offense is LOADED and ready to make a playoff run!