What a whirlwind of a first week in free agency for the Cincinnati Bengals and the entire AFC North. There were trades, stars cut, unexpected moves, and intrigue and drama. Across the league teams were active, for the most part attempting to shore up deficiencies and provide fans with hope for 2022.
In the AFC North, 2021 provided a glimpse of possibly the future of the division and conference, when the Bengals asserted their dominance en route to an unexpected Super Bowl bid.
Of course, as is the habit of the NFL, teams won’t just sit on their collective hands during the offseason. While Cincinnati would appear to be the favorite in the North in 2022 simply because they won it in 2021 and have only gotten better, the Browns, Ravens, and Steelers all made moves during the first week of free agency in a quest to keep pace with the suddenly top-cat Bengals.
That doesn’t mean the home team hasn’t made major inroads toward fixing their issues themselves. Even the most passing fan knows the Bengals struggled mightily protecting the franchise, Joe Burrow, who was battered and bruised for a record 51 regular-season sacks last year. Despite the postseason success, that has to change.
So how does that get fixed? Well, a good start would be free agency. And start they did!
The Bengals landed several key players that could help change the fortunes of 2022 and ensure that the Lombardi is in Cincinnati next season. Of course, the rest of the North made moves as well. Now let’s take a look at the teams in the AFC North and grade their first week of free agency. For the sake of brevity, I am only going to focus on new additions instead of minor re-signings.