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Bettor’s Free Agency Preview: AFC North Team News and Notes

The NFL calendar now focuses on free agency following the scouting combine, a pivotal phase for roster enhancement through acquiring seasoned players. This period is particularly critical for the teams within the AFC North—Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers—as they aim to bolster their squads and position themselves as playoff contenders. The onset of free agency aligns with the start of the new NFL league year, set for Wednesday, March 13. Let’s check what this could mean for online NFL bets.

Several options are available should a team be in the market for a reliable starting left tackle. Additionally, there are notable starters among interior linemen and linebackers poised to enter the market. While this class may not be particularly robust regarding quarterbacks, it boasts many talented defensive players capable of enhancing a contending team’s roster.

Bettor’s Free Agency Preview: AFC North Team News and Notes
Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to a game/Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

This transition signifies the end of last season’s player contracts and marks the beginning of the 2024 NFL calendar. It also marks an ideal time to start NFL betting, as we know what the 2024 rosters will look like.


1. Baltimore Ravens

Notable free agents: Justin Madubuike (IDL), Patrick Queen (LB), J.K. Dobbins (RB), Gus Edwards (RB), Kevin Zeitler (RG), Jadeveon Clowney (EDGE), Geno Stone (S)

The Baltimore Ravens are at a crossroads with several vital decisions ahead. They are expected to use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike by March 5, securing him for $22.1 million if a long-term deal isn’t reached. Additionally, they face the potential loss of guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Geno Stone, edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, and linebacker Patrick Queen to unrestricted free agency.

Despite having one of the most talented rosters last season, the Ravens must prioritize due to the number of key free agents. While likely retaining Madubuike, they also need to consider the high market value of Queen, Dobbins, and Stone’s solid performance and Clowney’s late-game impact. Zeitler’s departure, in particular, would impact their offensive line strength. However, with budget constraints, not all can stay, putting Madubuike at the top of Baltimore’s retention list.

The Ravens Vegas NFL betting odds to win the Super Bowl are +900, the best in the AFC North and second best in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs.


2. Cincinnati Bengals

Notable free agents: Tyler Boyd (WR), Jonah Williams (RT), D.J. Reader (IDL)

The Cincinnati Bengals have already made a significant move by applying the franchise tag to wide receiver Tee Higgins. This move ensures they keep one of the market’s top wideouts despite limiting their options to bring in new talent.

Tyler Boyd is anticipated to attract considerable interest as free agency starts, while D.J. Reader provides solid value at defensive tackle. Jonah Williams has proven to be a reliable starter, ideally suited to the left tackle position. With sufficient cap space, the Bengals can re-sign some key players.

Securing Higgins is the Bengals’ top offseason priority, and they are shifting their focus to bolstering a defense that ranked 31st in 2023.

Additionally, Cincinnati could free up $6.1 million in cap space by potentially releasing running back Joe Mixon, a move many expect to happen. The NFL lines list the Bengals at +170 to overtake the Ravens for the AFC North title.



3. Cleveland Browns

Notable free agents: Za’Darius Smith (EDGE), Shelby Harris (IDL), Sione Takitaki (LB), Joe Flacco (QB)

The Cleveland Browns possess a noteworthy roster of free agents, albeit without standout stars. Smith presents potential as an effective pass rusher within a suitable system, offering considerable value. Takitaki stands out as a reliable linebacker option, particularly as a third-choice.

The situation around Joe Flacco is also worth watching. While he may no longer be a full-season starter, he could emerge as the premier backup quarterback in the market.

To increase their financial flexibility, the Browns could extend wide receiver Amari Cooper, currently on a $23.7 million cap hit, and consider releasing running back Nick Chubb for an $11.8 million savings.

Despite a cautious approach to spending this offseason, the Browns are not severely restricted by salary cap constraints.


4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable free agents: Mason Rudolph (QB), Chandon Sullivan (CB)

The good news for the Steelers is they aren’t at risk of losing significant talent to free agency because none of their starters are hitting the market. I suppose you could consider Mason Rudolph as a starter, but the Steelers need to upgrade at QB, and he is 100% not good enough to start on a winning team. Even if the Steelers wanted to make a mistake and sign Rudolph, they don’t have the cap space to do much.

The bad news is that the Steelers will look very similar in 2024. As a result, the Steelers have some of the worst NFL odds to win the Super Bowl.




Questions Of The Day

Who is the biggest NFL free agent hitting the market in 2024?

The Giants’ Saquon Barkley is the biggest name hitting the bricks after New York decided not to tag their star running back.

Which NFL team has the least cap space?

The Buffalo Bills have the least cap space at -$41,392,663 and barely have any wiggle room to work with.




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