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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Updated AFC North cap numbers

By James Walker
ESPN.com

The regular season is set to begin in less than two weeks.

Here are the updated cap numbers for the AFC North, according to Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cap room: $29,030,430

Analysis: Teams are not required to spend to the cap until 2013, and the Bengals are taking advantage. Cincinnati has the third-most cap space in the NFL. Trading receiver Chad Ochocinco and putting quarterback Carson Palmer on the reserve/did not report list will save Cincinnati more than $17 million this year. The Bengals made several free-agent acquisitions, such as Nate Clements and Manny Lawson. But few were big names. They also re-signed starting tailback Cedric Benson for a bargain, one-year deal after Benson had legal issues this summer.

Cleveland Browns

Cap room: $18,856,161

Analysis: The Browns said they would build through the draft and keep their own players. They stuck to that principle this summer. Cleveland didn't make any significant moves in free agency. The Browns had plenty of needs and plenty of money to spend but stood pat. Cleveland's biggest move was giving Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas a huge, seven-year extension worth up to $84 million. It's the biggest deal in NFL history for an offensive or defensive lineman. Still, Cleveland has plenty of cap room to try to work out more extensions with in-house players such as tailback Peyton Hillis and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.

Baltimore Ravens

Cap room: $2,344,835

Analysis: Baltimore's cap number is somewhat deceiving. The team will have more room -- perhaps as much as $5 million to $7 million -- once it reaches a long-term extension with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The Ravens are working to extend Ngata and remove the franchise tag. But both sides have been unable to reach an agreement. Baltimore has been active and has a chance to make a couple more moves after Saturday's cuts. But the Ravens first have to take care of their in-house business with Ngata.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Cap room: $2,268,471

Analysis: General manager Kevin Colbert and cap specialist Omar Khan did an amazing job of transforming the Steelers' cap from about $10 million over to more than $2 million under. Pittsburgh gave out big extensions to cornerback Ike Taylor and linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons in the process. Key players such quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker James Harrison restructured their deals to assist the Steelers. Pittsburgh kept its team together to make another run this season. Don't expect any additional moves before the start of the season.