July 22, 2014

Pilfering The AFC North

Nate made a comment the other day that got me thinking on a slightly different angle about free agency. There are a number of quality free agents available from AFC North teams, especially the Ravens. Which of these guys would you like hear that the Bengals are talking to, not only because it fills a hole on the Bengals roster, but because it would also create a hole in a division opponent’s roster.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • RB Ray Rice
  • OG Ben Grubbs
  • MLB Jameel McClain
  • DE Cory Redding
  • OLB Jarret Johnson
  • S Haruki Nakamura

I will be dumbfounded if the Ravens let Rice get to free agency. If he does, his price tag will likely give Mike Brown’s wallet a heart attack. But wow could he turn a deficit area into an asset!

Grubbs ought to be on the Bengals radar. Landing Grubbs or Carl Nicks would be a huge upgrade. The Ravens have several key guys to care of this offseason, meaning there could be a couple of tough decisions, and Grubbs could possibly be one of those them that they don’t want to let go but can’t keep.

Nakamura would not start if the Bengals take care of Reggie Nelson like they should. He would be a solid backup and a good replacement for Gibril Wilson. And being a University of Cincinnati product, he would be a popular player around the city.

CLEVELAND BROWNS

  • D’Qwell Jackson
  • Peyton Hillis

After fighting injuries for a couple of years, Jackson had a huge 2011. With Maualuga continuing his relentless streak of bone-headed moves, Jackson would be an enormous upgrade in the middle.

When healthy, Hillis is a formidable runner. And he has yet to play on a team that ended with a winning record, let alone made the playoffs, which might make the 2012 attractive to him. Could you go there?

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

  • WR Mike Wallace
  • WR Jerricho Cotchery
  • RB Mewelde Moore
  • CB William Gay

The Steelers will tag Wallace if they have to, but could you imagine pairing him opposite A.J. Green for 3+ years? Good grief!

Cotchery had 4 really good years with the Jets, but his numbers the last two year have been down, although in 2011 he was buried behind Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Could he make a productive #2 receiver in Cincinnati? He would not draw double teams, but he would be a far better route runner than Jerome Simpson.

Gay isn’t a great CB, but he isn’t bad either. With the glaring lack of depth, he could be a guy to consider. Plus he could give the Bengals an inside eye into Dick LeBeau’s mind. (Hmmm… I wonder how many jerseys this guy sells.)

For my money, Ben Grubbs and D’Qwell Jackson would be outstanding free agent signings. So would Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain. Haruki Nakamura and William Gay could be fairly inexpensive guys to add depth to the roster.