2022 NFL Offseason Series: AFC North

2022 NFL Offseason Series: AFC North
Breaking down the upcoming offseason for each 2022 NFL team, broken down by division, including projected cap space, players under contract, notable free agents, potential extension candidates, franchise tag possibilities, & trade/cut options.

Offseason Division Pieces

Baltimore Ravens

Projected Top 51 Cap Space: $26M

Under Contract (39): FULL ROSTER

2022 Dead Cap: $760k

Notable Restricted Free Agents: None.

Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: Calais Campbell (DE, 35), Justin Houston (DE, 32), Bradley Bozeman (C, 27), Sammy Watkins (WR, 28), Patrick Ricard (FB, 27), FULL LIST

Franchise Tag Candidate: None.

Draft Picks: R1, R2, R3, R3 (COMP), R4 (NYG), R4, R4 (ARI), R4 (COMP), R4 (COMP), R6 (MIA)

Extension Candidates

Lamar Jackson (QB, 24)
Jackson’s contract has been a top billing subject all year, and Baltimore would benefit from an extension that lowers his current $23M cap hit for 2022. But there are some serious contractual decisions to be made on the defensive side of the ball that could impact their willingness to get this done before 2023. Jackson still holds a $40M+ valuation in our system.

Bradley Bozeman (C, 27)
Moved from guard to center, Bozeman has gone from a “fill-in” player to a legitimate option for Baltimore’s future. The Ravens have a few mouths to feed this winter, but shoring up the O-Line has to remain priority. A cap-adjusted version (4 yrs, $32M) of Ben Jones’ deal in Tennessee makes sense here.

Anthony Averett (CB, 27)
Averett was vaulted into a starting role when Marcus Peters was injured prior to the season. While Peters is under contract for 2022, his $15.5M cap hit is questionable. It’s also quite possible that the Ravens choose to restructure/extend Peters and let Averett walk into free agency, but the latter’s 3 yr, $37M projection seems much more cost effective for Baltimore going forward.

Potential Trades/Cuts

Marcus Peters (CB, 28)
Peters wasn’t necessarily outplayed by his replacement, but Anthony Averett may have done enough to put his $15.5M cap hit in question for 2022. There’s $10M of cap to be saved by moving on.

Cincinnati Bengals

Projected Top 51 Cap Space: $60M

Under Contract (36): FULL ROSTER

2022 Dead Cap: $384k

Notable Restricted Free Agents: Stanley Morgan (WR, 25), FULL LIST

Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: Jessie Bates III (S, 24), B.J. Hill (DT, 26), Quinton Spain (G, 30), FULL LIST

Potential Franchise Tag: Jessie Bates III (S, 24), projected $13M

Draft Picks: R1, R2, R3, R4, R4 (COMP), R4, R5, R6, R7 (NYG), R7

Extension Candidates

Jessie Bates III (S, 24)
Bates finished the 2020 campaign as the Top Rated Safety according to PFF. He’s 85th in 2021. This Jekyll & Hyde kind of consistency generally leads to slow-playing the contract situation, so a franchise tag is most likely coming first here. The 2020 numbers still have him valuing around $14.4M per year to date.

B.J. Hill (DT, 26)
The former 2nd round pick out of NC state by the Giants has been consistent for 3 straight seasons, and should find himself in Vernon Butler ($7.5M) or Roy Robertson-Harris’ ($7.8M) world financially soon.

Potential Trades/Cuts

Trae Waynes (CB, 29)
Despite cashing in nearly $31M over the past two seasons, Waynes has only played in 5 games for the Bengals, with limited production to show for. His veteran presence is much needed on this young Bengals' squad, but with a $16M cap figure in 2022, it seems unrealistic his current contract with stick. There's $11M of cap to be cleared here.

Trey Hopkins (C, 29)
The Bengals will focus on upgrading their center position this winter, putting Hopkins' $7.125M cap figure on notice. The $6M to be saved can cover all 4 years of a newly drafted rookie contract for this role.

Cleveland Browns

Projected Top 51 Cap Space: $35M

Under Contract (41): FULL ROSTER

2022 Dead Cap: $206k

Notable Restricted Free Agents: D’Ernest Johnson (RB, 25), Chase McLaughlin (K, 25), FULL LIST

Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: David Njoku (TE, 25), Jadeveon Clowney (DE, 28), Anthony Walker Jr. (LB, 26), Ronnie Harrison (S, 24), Malik Jackson (DT, 31), FULL LIST

Franchise Tag Candidate: None.

Draft Picks: R1, R2, R3, R4 (DET), R4, R5, R6, R7 (DET)

Extension Candidates

Denzel Ward (CB, 24)
Ward is peaking at the right time, with just a $13.2M option left on his rookie contract with the Browns. The 24 year old is a Top 5 CB according to PFF, and now holds a $19M valuation in our system. Jalen Ramsey’s $20M per year deal is within reach.

Baker Mayfield (QB, 26)
An extension might be an unlikely outcome at this point, but Mayfield will be heading into a contract year in 2022, with a fully guaranteed $18.8M salary to boot. Cleveland’s plan of action for their QB position will be one of the more fascinating storylines to follow this offseason. Mayfield’s calculated valuation started at $35M in 2021. It’s currently down to $28.9M, with Ryan Tannehill’s deal in Tennessee as the best comp. He’s as much a trade candidate as he is anything else this offseason.

Potential Trades/Cuts

Jarvis Landry (WR, 29)
Landry's production took a dip in 2020, and has been hampered largely by injury again in 2021. He'll be entering the final year of his contract in 2022, with a $16.5M cap figure to boot. There's only $1.5M of dead cap to take on via trade or release, so Cleveland could really free up some capital by making a move here.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Projected Top 51 Cap Space: $44M

Under Contract (42): FULL ROSTER

2022 Dead Cap: $1.4M

Notable Restricted Free Agents: Robert Spillane (LB, 26), FULL LIST

Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: Joe Haden (CB, 32), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, 25),Ben Roethlisberger (QB, 39), Trai Turner (G, 28), B.J. Finney (C, 30), FULL LIST

Franchise Tag Candidate: None;

Draft Picks: R1, R2, R3, R4 (COMP), R5 (COMP), R7 (NYJ), R7

Extension Candidates

Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, 25)
The Steelers acquired Minkah over two years ago now, forfeiting a 1st, 5th & 6th round pick to do so, and he’s worth the price of admission for the better part of 3 years. There’s a $10.6M 5th year option left on his rookie contract, but this offseason is probably the right time to strike a multi-year extension. While Jamal Adams’ $18M is the number to watch, Fitzpatrick’s calculated valuation sits just above Justin Simmons’ $15.25M mark.

Diontae Johnson (WR, 25)
Johnson becomes extension eligible after 2021, and while much of the offense holds question marks, taking Diontae into contract #2 probably makes sense now, regardless of who’s throwing him the ball over the next few seasons. Johnson values between $15M-$16M per year right now.

Potential Trades/Cuts

Zach Banner (OT, 28)
Banner signed a 2 year, $9.5M extension this past March, but has now seen time in only 7 games across the past two seasons. His $6.6M cap figure for 2022 isn't daunting, but with $5M to be cleared, it stands to reason a move could be made here.

Chris Boswell (K, 30)
Boswell has been one of the most consistent kickers in the game the past few seasons, but the numbers have noticably slipped in 2021. He still may be too productive to move on from in the grand scheme of bad kicking across the league, but his $4.9M cap hit vs. $1.6M dead cap leaves the contract open for interpretation this offseason.