2011 NFL Free Agency: What AFC North Teams Need to Address
Following a not-so-secret meeting between the NFL higher ups and the players association, some have speculated that the lockout could be over within the next month or so.
If that happens, teams can finally sign free agents and trade players. No doubt, teams are chomping at the bit as they wait to sign what they hope will be the missing piece that gets them to the super bowl. But, what does it mean when a potential trade falls through or a free agent signs with someone else? Here are the worst possible free agency and trade scenarios for the AFC North.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Trading Away Carson Palmer
Yes, trading away an inconsistent Palmer would be a huge blow to the Bengals franchise. Palmer demanded a trade back in January, and he was also considering retiring. I think the trade request was largely due to Palmer’s dissatisfaction with his diva receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens, who did nothing but complain about the team’s offensive strategy and their playing time.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: Secondary Declining, O-Line Depleted
The future of the Steelers defense could be uncertain heading into 2011. Cornerback Ike Taylor and tackles Willie Colon and Trai Essex will be free agents, so expect Pittsburgh to look for some possible replacements if they decide to leave.
Also, their offensive line was decimated by injury last season. After two of their starters were injured, they lost 3 more offensive linemen in a single game. Even though they still got to the super bowl, the Steelers can’t expect to stay competitive if they’re using their third string offensive linemen.
3. Cleveland Browns: Upgrade at QB Must Happen
The Browns were reportedly interested in Kevin Kolb awhile back and it seems like that is no longer the case. This is probably due to their new-found faith in McCoy. McCoy threw six touchdowns in eight starts last season. I know you could argue that McCoy is still young, but I don’t see much upside from here. He’s an accurate quarterback with below average arm strength. The Browns would make a big mistake not upgrading at the QB spot, but maybe they feel their just one more bad season away from landing a decent draft pick that could turn into their franchise quarterback for 2012.
Baltimore Ravens: Sew Up Holes on Offensive Line, Get a Receiver Under 30
As far as the passing game goes, Anquan Boldin was a great pickup but the Ravens receivers are still way too slow. You know your receiving core is slow when your no. 2 receiver is 37 years old. But the Ravens are in luck, since the 2011 free agent pool is packed with receivers who could give their offense some juice.
There are plenty of speedy guys who make an impact either in the slot, or at the No.2 position. Green Bay receiver James Jones might not resign if he doesn’t get paid like a starter, Steve Smith from the Giants would be a great addition. The Ravens just need some youth at receiver badly and their offense won’t ever be elite without it.