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AFC North Free Agency Watch Day 2: Cleveland Browns

Though it didn’t quite have the dizzying pace and perplexing moves of the opening day of free agency, there was still plenty of action to go around during the second day in the new league year, and the AFC North was not immune from the activity, though it probably saw more departures than arrivals.

After losing starting cornerback Buster Skrine to the open market on Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns said goodbye to two more players yesterday, though they are both players who once played a prominent role in the team’s future, only to be phased out in time.

Perhaps the more significant signing of the two for its league-wide implications was that of outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard, more for the team that signed him than for the impact on the Browns or the length of the contract.

After declining Darrelle Revis’ massive team option for the 2015 season, the New England Patriots have turned that money into reinforcing the defensive line, signing  Sheard to a two-year, $11-million contract.

Sheard, of course, was a possible target at left outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who need to replace the recently retired Jason Worilds. The market for free agent pass rushers is quickly drying out, which adds to the Steelers-specific importance of this signing.

As far as the Browns go, however, Sheard has waned in importance within their system with every passing regime, and is no longer in the starting lineup, so while he may be able to help out New England, Cleveland likely doesn’t see this as a significant loss.

Brian Hoyer signing elsewhere doesn’t concern the Browns front office either, as both parties already seemed resolved to go their separate ways before the 2014 season had even ended. Of course, the already drafted Johnny Manziel in the first round, and even though he is in rehab, they still have to see what he can do.

The Browns already signed veteran Josh McCown to fill the starting quarterback job until Manziel can take it from him, presumably, which they feel is favorable than keeping around a disgruntled Hoyer, who is the only Browns quarterback since returning to the NFL with a winning record.

The Browns did make one move, re-signing wide receiver Marlon Moore, who could compete for playing time next season given the team’s issues at the position, though they did bring in Brian Hartline.

There as of yet has been no movement on free agent Jordan Cameron, who is supposed to visit with Miami, and their two defensive line free agents have not drawn any attention during the initial wave of free agency.

If they lose Cameron, which they seem to be preparing for, they intend to make an offer for tight end Charles Clay, who was given a transition tag, but the Bills are also making a push for him. Cornerback Perrish Cox has a visit scheduled for today, who could help replace Skrine. Overall, however, they have been surprisingly quiet thus far.

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