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Friday, March 16, 2012
Wake-up call: A plea to sign someone

By Jamison Hensley

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Another day in free agency means another day to count the losses in the division.

On Thursday, the second day of free agency, the AFC North parted ways with four more players (including three starters): Ravens guard Ben Grubbs, Browns safety Mike Adams, Bengals guard Mike McGlynn and Browns backup offensive tackle Artis Hicks.

To update our free-agent scorecard, division teams have watched nine players sign with other teams while adding just one from another team (that would be defensive end Frostee Rucker going from the Bengals to the Browns).

These numbers look bad on paper, but I'm not preaching the end of the AFC North as we know it. Most of these losses were expected and will amount to a dent in the fender. Teams probably didn't even give a wave goodbye to the likes of Adams and McGlynn.

The Browns have been the most proactive team in the division, but most of their signings have been re-signings. Now it's time for the rest of the AFC North to start going on the offensive here. Let's see the Ravens sign Evan Mathis to replace Grubbs today. Let's see the Bengals add some depth at cornerback by agreeing to terms with Tracy Porter or Aaron Ross.

Just do something.

BENGALS: McGlynn, who started the final three weeks in the regular season as well as the playoff game, posted on Twitter that he agreed on a deal to join the Indianapolis Colts. He was pushed into the starting lineup for the Bengals after Bobbie Williams broke his ankle. ... The team hosted four players for visits, all of which will extend into today: cornerbacks Tracy Porter (Saints) and Aaron Ross (Giants); defensive lineman Kendall Langford (Dolphins); and guard Jacob Bell (Rams). The best bet is for the Bengals to sign Langford and a cornerback today. Porter might have the edge over Ross because the former second-round pick is younger (25 years old). ... According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the free-agent visits for both running backs (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Michael Bush) will now occur Monday. ... Left guard Nate Livings visited the Cowboys on Thursday.

BROWNS: Adams agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Broncos after the Browns didn't show any interest in keeping the starting safety. "[Cleveland] didn't offer a contract for me 2 stay, so now I'm a Bronco," Adams posted on Twitter. "I went hard every play 4 u clev! I will miss that locker room, and the fans!" The top candidates to replace Adams are Usama Young, Eric Hagg and perhaps cornerback Sheldon Brown ... Hicks signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. In terms of offensive tackle, the Browns released starting right tackle Tony Pashos, re-signed backup Oniel Cousins and allowed Hicks to sign elsewhere. All three were below-average tackles in the league. It's no surprise that team president Mike Holmgren said the team is in the market for a right tackle. ... Defensive end Frostee Rucker officially signed his five-year, $20.5 million deal that includes a $5 million signing bonus. “They approached me with pretty much giving me the keys to the car and telling me, ‘You’re the starting right end,’ ” Rucker said during a conference call, via the Beacon Journal. That means Eagles free-agent defensive end Juqua Parker, who was signed by Cleveland Thursday, becomes the top backup and former starter Jayme Mitchell could be next to get released. ... The Browns kept cornerback Dimitri Patterson by signing him to a three-year, $16 million contract ($6 million guaranteed). The size of the contract suggests Cleveland wants Patterson to go from nickelback to starter this season.

RAVENS: The free-agent visit with Eagles guard Evan Mathis is stretching into Friday after having dinner with general manager Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens are looking for a left guard after Grubbs signed with the Saints Thursday. ... Scratch wide receiver-returner Eddie Royal off the Ravens' free-agent wish list. He signed a three-year, $13.5 million contract (including $6 million guaranteed) with the Chargers last night. Don't be surprised to see the Ravens look into Dolphins wide receiver-returner Ted Ginn, who is visiting the Detroit Lions. ...The good news is that the Ravens signed someone. The disappointing news: It was reserve linebacker Chavis Williams. The Ravens didn't tender him as an exclusive-rights free agent and brought him back at a reduced price. Williams played five games for the Ravens last season.

STEELERS: Don't go into shock, but there's some Steelers news. Nose tackle Casey Hampton all but secured a spot on this year's team when the five-time Pro Bowl player restructured the final year of his three-year contract, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The move created about $3 million of salary-cap space for the Steelers, who were reportedly $1.5 million under the cap at the start of free agency. The Post-Gazette notes that Hampton, 35, is the longest-tenured player on the Steelers after the release of wide receiver Hines Ward and defensive end Aaron Smith. If you're counting at home -- and we know you are -- Hampton becomes the sixth Steelers player to restructure his contract this offseason, joining quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tackle Willie Colon, cornerback Ike Taylor and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.