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Fans' report card: AFC North free agency

4/9/2012

A look at how the fans graded the first wave of free agency for the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers:

Cincinnati Bengals

Jamison Hensley's grade: B

Scouts Inc. Matt Williamson's grade: B-minus

Fans' grade: B (59 percent)

Tim B (Columbus, Ohio): I don't want to be a homer but I would seriously consider the Bengals to be a high-B, low-A in free agency. They did bring in some good quality and I don't think they lost that much in the long run. I would've liked a big-name or two, but you've got to remember we've been burned in the past with them (Antonio Byant, Laveranues Coles, Antwan Odom to name a few.)

cboogs100 (message board): I say, why not an A? Bengals kept the free agents they wanted, didn't overextend themselves in free agency (frees up money for guys coming off rookie contracts soon), got a major upgrade with arguably the best available running back (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) to sign with a new team and shored up the positions that needed depth.

AdamPBUD (message board): I said a B for the following reasons: Re-signed some key players and of which Reggie Nelson actually chose to stay with the team, this is a positive. They picked up a very reliable back in short yard situations, which the Bengals very much needed and also improved at the guard position.

Jason (Baltimore): I give the Bengals an A in free agency and I'll tell you why. The only major loss they incurred was Jonathan Fanene and you're not going to out recruit the Pats. Oops! Unless we're talking about "The Law Firm." Great grab by the Bengals, a do-it-all back that can be the guy and carry it 25 times when needed or strengthen any backfield rotation.


Cleveland Browns

Hensley's grade: C

Williamson's grade: D

Fans' grade: C (35 percent)

Patrick (Columbus, Ohio): B. Although I was sad to see Eric Steinbach go since he has been so solid for us, he is getting older and it will be great to get guys like Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao more reps. Letting Peyton Hillis walk and Tony Pashos go tells me the Browns have plans for the draft so that is fine with me as well. We resigned the most important in-house free agents and brought in a starter, which is more than we have done in recent seasons so I think they deserve at least a B-.

Bchisolm44 (message board): I agree...D is the grade. It would have been a "C" if the team stood pat. But losing guys like Mike Adams, Peyton Hillis, Tony Pashos lessens the team. Signing Frostee Rucker was OK, but we should have gotten AT LEAST ONE of the big name WRs.

deemsj1 (message board): B. One sentence: they got rid of Peyton Hillis.

Jon (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): Cleveland gets a "D" for their offseason free agency grade. Although it is a good idea to build a team through the draft, you can't have rookies be leaders on a team in total transition with holes at nearly every phase of the game. Everyone needs veterans to help younger talent mature and, between losing Eric Steinbach (I feel was a huge error in letting him go) and not addressing atleast one offensive position, Cleveland has shown that they truely don't even know how to bring the franchise back from certain doom and despair.


Baltimore Ravens

Hensley's grade: D

Williamson's grade: C

Fans' grade: C (40 percent)

Ryan Saotome (message board): I give them a C. They only lost one real impact player, and they locked up a future all-pro player for a long time. Ravens are never really aggressive in free agency yet are still successful every year, so you can't really question it too much.

Steve (Upperco, Md.): Since the Ravens inked Lardarius Webb to a six-year deal and signed some key people back, I give them a "B." However, who cares about free agency and the Ravens> This isn't how they build their team. One word...DRAFT.

The Pointe2011 (message board): The players lost are much greater in value than the players signed. Some of those players might eventually be drafted, but it always hurt when you lose probowl type players. Not a terrible FA period for the Ravens though.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Hensley's grade: D

Williamson's grade: C

Fans' grade: F (35 percent)

Michael R. (Bentonville, Ark.): Steelers really only lost one full-time starter with an average cornerback (William Gay) signing with Arizona. They have lost some roster depth with the retirements and releasing a few players. They have resigned the starting right guard with Ramon Foster. I am assuming that we retain Mike Wallace. In summary, no significant losses or additions while creating some salary cap room deserves a "C" to "B minus" grade.

Gary Barnes (message board): I give them an FFFF. They did nothing to improve the team..On the downside they restructured everyone but the water boy mortgaging the future. The backloaded contracts will again lead to more future cuts. They gambled that the cap would increase. Now it has been reported that will not be the case.

Bryan13967 (message board): Trending an "F", seriously people? Is it only Raven fans who are voting? The Steelers build a roster via the draft and buying low on other peoples castoffs. It's worked for as long as there has been free agency.

Nick (Pennsylvania): Anyone that grades the Steelers' free agency badly has to understand that they never make big moves outside the draft really. They didn't lose anyone that was a big playmaker and they only lost 2 leaders, Ward and Farrior, but as much as they are loved by Steeler Nation, their play was declining. They haven't lost Wallace, and multiple players are restructuring their contracts to fee up cap space to to keep them. Taking all that into account they deserve a B rating, and only because they lost a leader from both sides of the line. They Steelers are rebuilding, getting younger, and still the most feared team in the NFL.