The Baltimore Ravens took the AFC North by storm in 2019, with Lamar Jackson putting together an MVP season in just his second year in the NFL. The other teams in the AFC North will use this offseason to try and prevent the Ravens from defending their division title next season.
There are only a few days until free agency gets underway and even the Ravens have some holes on the roster that need to be filled. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ll have to surround Ben Roethlisberger with more weapons on offense, as his career is nearing an end.
On the other hand, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have plenty of needs to address before they become legitimate contenders in the division. With that being said, here is one player that each team in the AFC North needs to sign in free agency.
Baltimore Ravens – Neville Hewitt
Last offseason, the Ravens watched C.J. Mosley depart in free agency, accepting a lucrative contract with the New York Jets. While Mosley moved to New York, Baltimore believed that Patrick Onwuasor could fill the void at inside linebacker.
However, after a disappointing season from Onwuasor and with him becoming a free agent, the Ravens could look to find someone to actually replace Mosley. As a matter of fact, the Ravens should target Neville Hewitt, who was a bright spot for the Jets in 2019 amid Mosley’s nagging groin injury.
In his first season starting in more than five games, Hewitt recorded 75 tackles, five deflections, three sacks, and two interceptions in 2019. At just 26 years old, Hewitt could give Baltimore a long-term solution at linebacker that is capable in coverage.
Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green
Ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals are assumed to be taking Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick. After taking their franchise quarterback of the future, Cincinnati needs to make it a priority to surround him with as many weapons as possible.
This past season, A.J. Green was unable to play a single snap due to an ankle injury. Despite missing the season, the Bengals need to do whatever they can to keep the seven-time Pro Bowler on their roster in 2020.
Even though he’s not officially on the roster yet, Burrow informed the Bengals to keep Green for next season. Following Burrow’s instructions, Cincinnati should grant his wish and retain Green in the team’s aerial attack. If Green is able to remain healthy in 2020, the Bengals could see a quick turnaround on offense next season as they try to be more competitive in the AFC North.
Cleveland Browns – Anthony Harris
For the second straight year, the Browns made a coaching change after failing to live up to expectations. With Kevin Stefanski now manning the ship, Cleveland has to buckle down and improve some of the glaring issues on the roster.
Near the top of the list of needs, the Browns could use a playmaking safety in their secondary. When free agency kicks off, Cleveland is likely going to be losing Damarious Randall and Eric Murray.
To replace them, the Browns could make a significant upgrade by signing Anthony Harris in free agency. Over the past two seasons, Harris has started at free safety for the Minnesota Vikings.
In that two-year span, Harris has amassed 106 tackles, 17 deflections, and nine interceptions. Plus, Stefanski — who was with the Vikings from 2006-2019 — saw first-hand what Harris’ potential can be while coaching Minnesota’s offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Delanie Walker
Fortunately for the Steelers, they are expected to have Roethlisberger back under center in 2020. However, after another injury in his career in 2019, it appears that his career is nearing an end.
Nevertheless, with him leading the charge again, the Steelers need to bolster the offense around him to compete for an AFC North title. Rather than pick up Vance McDonald’s option in 2020, Pittsburgh should sign Delanie Walker in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week, the Tennessee Titans released Walker, giving teams a chance to sign him even before free agency begins. Despite injuries plaguing him in the past two seasons, Walker would be a low-risk, high-reward option for a Steelers team that is limited in cap space.