On Friday, ESPN Insider's Field Yates looked at the biggest upcoming roster decisions for all 32 teams in the NFL. Let's recap what he said about each of the teams in the AFC North, including our very own Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland Browns: Here is what Yates said about the Browns:
Center of attention: This one is out of the Browns' control in some ways, as center Alex Mack -- who missed much of 2014 due to a broken leg -- has an opt-out clause following this season. If Mack exercises that clause and looks to play elsewhere, the Browns might already have their in-house replacement in 2015 first-round pick Cam Erving. If they believe Erving is best-suited elsewhere on the line, they'll need to find a replacement quickly. A stable offensive line is critical to a team still sorting through its long-term quarterback plan.
Yates said it himself in the first sentence -- "this one is out of the Browns' control." Therefore, the decision he is referring to is how soon you get first-round pick Cameron Erving in at the center position. If Cleveland contends all season, Mack no doubt remains the center, and you hope he'd decide to stay in Cleveland in 2016. What if the Browns are out of playoff contention during the tail end of the season, and the front office feels that Mack is 95% going to leave -- is there any chance that the team should consider sitting Mack and giving Erving a few starts at center, in preparation for 2016? I say, "no," but I'm curious if anybody would say, "sure, why not?"
Baltimore Ravens: Yates went with extending Joe Flacco's contract, while restructuring it along the way, in order to alleviate the $28.55 million and $31.15 million cap hits he would account for in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Pittsburgh Steelers: While Yates says a new deal for WR Antonio Brown isn't critical for Pittsburgh, he wonders if they should find a way to extend him now rather than later, considering he's the No. 1 receiver statistically but No. 11 in the league when it comes to his paycheck.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have been good about securing talented, home-grown players, and next on their agenda would be WR A.J. Green, who is a free agent next year.