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AFC North News Watch: Day 19

AFC NORTH TEAMS

The AFC North has been fairly quiet since the league’s annual Owners Meetings drew to a close during the middle of last week, although the Pittsburgh Steelers were among the few teams to actually make a move or two after they re-signed one of their own free agents. The movement since then has largely been free agents from within the division signing elsewhere.

That doesn’t mean that the division is done with free agency leading up to the draft, although it is clear that by and large the primary focus has shifted in that direction. The Steelers, certainly have already been in that mode for some time with head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert becoming annual fixtures around the Pro Day circuit.

Though the team no longer makes available information pertaining to the players that they bring in for visits, the Steelers have reportedly scheduled to bring in pass rusher Randy Gregory, who has been regarded as a possible top 10 draft pick.

Gregory, of course, recently acknowledged that he failed a drug test at the Combine, which has led many to believe that this will hurt his draft stock, and has prompted some teams later in the first round to start taking a look in case he falls that far. The Steelers are evidently among those teams.

Of course, they already have some experience in taking chances on players who have failed their drug test at the Combine, but I’ll not say more on that subject, as every person brings with him his own set of circumstances.

The Cincinnati Bengals are another team that could potentially be interested in Gregory should he fall that far, even though they have addressed their defensive line troubles through free agency. The believe there is that they will continue to focus on defense in the draft, as they have done in free agency, perhaps with the exception of a tight end or a lineman.

The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, have clearly made the secondary their priority, as has been the case for some time, and that is a theme that continues to be true this offseason. While they have allowed two members of their starting secondary to leave for big contracts over the past two years, they have also added to that.

The secondary already accounts for over a quarter of their salary cap expenditures, and that number could climb further if an extension is worked out with restricted free agent safety Tashaun Gipson.

Offensively, many are questioning why the Browns have not scheduled to bring in quarterback Marcus Mariota for a visit yet, though it’s very possible that he is off the board well before they pick. One reason, however, could be that they feel comfortable in their knowledge of the player due to their quarterback coach’s familiarity with him.

As for the Baltimore Ravens, they have continued to profit from the compensatory pick formula, which is a theme that will continue next season based on their losses over the past month. But they are reportedly still looking at adding a running back, tight end, or wide receiver, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the piece, or pieces, that they add come from the list of released players.

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