AFC North Free Agency Watch Day 5

Friday was a big day around the AFC North thanks almost solely to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finally awoke from slumber to start making some moves. They signed veteran running back DeAngelo Williams to a two-year deal and gave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a new five-year contract.

Yesterday was about as quiet as it get throughout the division, for the most part, with perhaps the biggest headline actually being some of the details of Roethlisberger’s contract coming out, which both he and the team president described as mutually fair.

In case you missed it, Roethlisberger’s new contract is worth $99, with escalators potentially pushing it up to $108. When factoring in his $11.6 million base salary previously scheduled, that comes out to a new money total of $87.4 million, which translates to $21.85 million per season—just a smidge under the $22 million per season deal signed by Aaron Rodgers. The deal also includes a record $65 million over the first three seasons.

As far as future plans go, the Steelers were reported to have a visit scheduled with free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson, but that visit will not happen until Monday. It will be the first of multiple visits for the former first-round pick, who has several teams interest in him.

There was one signing within the division yesterday, and it came from the Baltimore Ravens, who became the last team within the division to sign a player from outside of their own roster. Interestingly, they are also the first team in the division to sign a player from another team who was not released.

That is ironic given Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome’s tendency to pay mind to the compensatory draft pick formula, which penalizes compensation when signing other teams’ free agents, rather than street free agents. Still, Baltimore has been hit hard in free agency and will probably be handsomely rewards with extra picks, as per the norm.

That player, by the way, was former Texans safety Kendrick Lewis, who signed a three-year contract and seemed pegged in to enter the starting lineup. The Ravens just lost safety Darian Stewart to the Broncos in free agency. They were interested in cornerback Perrish Cox as well, who just signed with the Titans.

I have written in recent days that the Cincinnati Bengals have genuine interest in reuniting with former Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who signed with the Buccaneers in 2014 but was released after one season.

It now seems as though Johnson’s decision will come down to either the Bengals or the Vikings. The Bengals are in dire need of a pass rush, as they finished near the bottom of the league in sacks a year ago.

Sticking in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns intend to play host to the recently released Dwayne Bowe, who is a big target at wide receiver but is coming off a season in which he failed to catch a touchdown pass. Still, the Browns badly need reinforcements at this position, beyond just Brian Hartline.

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