Former Brown Larry Ogunjobi joins Steelers, his third AFC North team

All that is left for Ogunjobi in the AFC North is to join the man that drafted him, Sashi Brown, with Baltimore next year. His role in the Garrett/Rudolph scuffle is also interesting:

This offseason was full of former members of the Cleveland Browns on the free agent market. So far, the team hasn’t dipped back into their history to bring back a player who has left but still has a chance to do so but not with DT Larry Ogunjobi.

Ogunjobi had an interesting offseason. He was a big initial signing by Ryan Pace in his first offseason as the Chicago Bears general manager. Reports were that the Bears and Ogunjobi agreed to a three-year deal worth over $40 million.

Shortly after, Ogunjobi was unable to pass a physical which was not surprising given that his previous season ended with a foot injury in the playoffs. Chicago did not go through with the contract and the former third-round pick stayed on the market until Tuesday:

After four seasons in Cleveland and one in Cincinnati, Ogunjobi continues his tour of the AFC North. In five seasons, he compiled 21.5 sacks including an impressive seven last year with the Bengals.

With Stephon Tuitt retiring, the Steelers fill a need on their defensive line if Ogunjobi is healthy.

Interestingly, Ogunjobi was the player who pushed Mason Rudolph prior to Myles Garrett’s infamous helmet swing and will now join Rudolph in Pittsburgh.

The Browns may still need to add an interior defensive lineman but a reunion is not in the cards with Ogunjobi. Perhaps his next stop finishes the AFC North loop and reunites him with Sashi Brown, the man who drafted him in Cleveland and is now the president of the Baltimore Ravens.

Steelers Chase Claypool says he’s a top 3 receiver

Claypool thinks very highly of himself despite just 7 catches, 62 yards and 0 TDs against the Browns in 2021 and just 3 catches for 25 yards in the Steelers playoff loss last year:

The AFC North is expected to be highly competitive in the 2022 NFL season. Last year, the Baltimore Ravens led much of the year before finally succumbing to injuries. The Cincinnati Bengals took the division and rode the momentum all the way to the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers saw Ben Roethlisberger ride off into the sunset with one last playoff appearance.

Fans of the Cleveland Browns watched the drama unfold last year with Baker Mayfield’s injury, the early struggles of the defense and Odell Beckham Jr. forcing himself out of town.

Heading into the 2022 season, the Ravens are healthy again, the Bengals have worked to build their offensive line and the Browns, well, they still have turbulence.

The Steelers have quite a bit of transition on offense with Roethlisberger retired and JuJu Smith-Schuster signing with Kansas City. The loss of Smith-Schuster provides an opportunity for Chase Claypool to fill his role on and off the field.

Off the field, Claypool discussed his use of TikTok and other topics including his place in the NFL:

“And just like you said, understanding I’m not normal — I feel that way when I’m on the field. I know for a fact I am not like the rest of the guys in the NFL. I know I’m a top-five receiver. I know I’m a top-three receiver.”

Setting lofty goals isn’t new for Claypool, last year he predicted he would have 14 touchdowns but finished with just two.

Claypool is unmistakably talented but few would have him in their top five or ten going into this season, much less top three.

That is especially true when you look at his production against Cleveland last season. Combined, the tall receiver had seven receptions for 62 yards and zero touchdowns in two games against the Browns in 2021. He also didn’t produce in the team’s playoff loss with just three receptions for 25 yards.

To be fair, as a rookie Claypool had a good year against Cleveland with nine receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown. That year, he also had five receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Browns.

Claypool didn’t come close to his prediction for the 2021 season. It is hard to become a top-three receiver in 2022 unless he has much better games against the Browns, at a minimum.

Ravens DL Wolfe has second hip surgery, future in doubt

A second hip surgery puts Wolfe’s future up in the air. He signed a three-year deal with Baltimore last year but missed all of last season as well:

The fight for the AFC North could be a four-team race during the 2022 NFL season. The Cleveland Browns hope their additions on offense will be an upgrade and that their defense continues the development shown late in the season.

The Cincinnati Bengals are fresh off their Super Bowl appearance hoping an upgraded offensive line can help take Joe Burrow to the next level.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are turning the page on the Ben Roethlisberger era with either/both Mitchell Trubisky and/or Kenny Pickett as their starting quarterback. While the Steelers may be expected to lose, the team stayed competitive with Duck Hodges at quarterback a few years ago.

Finally, the Baltimore Ravens hope to bounce back from a last-place finish in 2021 with a healthy Lamar Jackson. The story of the Ravens season was injuries as Jackson, most of their running backs and most of their secondary missed significant time.

Baltimore may have another significant injury to deal with as versatile defensive lineman Derek Wolfe announced he had his second hip surgery of the year on Monday:

As noted, Wolfe’s contract is guaranteed for this season with a cap hit of $3.8 million. His statement regarding “a normal life” seems to indicate his future on the football field could be in doubt.

The Ravens retained veteran Calais Campbell and brought over Michael Pierce from Minnesota this offseason to bolster the defensive line.

Wolfe last played in 2020, his lone healthy season with Baltimore. He signed a three-year, $12 million deal last offseason with $6.5 million guaranteed.

Ravens Humphrey unhappy with Madden ad where Chubb runs him over

The Ravens tough guy image takes a hit in the Madden ad and Humphrey’s response to it:

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will always be linked. Unfortunately for the Browns, the Ravens have prospered since Art Modell stole the team out of Cleveland while the Browns have, mostly, struggled.

Baltimore’s physical style of play has attempted to bully opponents, and referees, for decades now. They have prided themselves in their physical nature despite many, rightfully, believing they should be flagged more often for it.

Last year, due to a number of injuries to their running backs and defensive backs, the Ravens had to rely on Lamar Jackson more than anything else. Once their quarterback went down, Baltimore ended up in last place in the division.

Speaking of going down:

The quick video looks like a replay of Browns RB Nick Chubb bouncing a Philadelphia Eagles defender to the ground.

Marlon Humphrey, the Ravens defender getting plowed over here, wasn’t too happy to see the video:

One of Baltimore’s “tough guys” seems a bit sensitive from a video game clip. Perhaps Chubb will get a chance to do it in real life and see how Humphrey responds then. Most likely, the cornerback will be smarter than to try to tackle Cleveland’s top running back up high.

AFC North watch: Steelers lose defensive starter to early retirement

AFC North watch: Pittsburgh Steelers starting DL Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement on Wednesday

The Pittsburgh Steelers took another offseason blow on Wednesday when a longtime defensive starter unexpectedly stepped away. Stephon Tuitt, a fixture on the Pittsburgh defensive line for most of the last eight seasons, announced his retirement.

The team confirmed the retirement with a press release on social media, written by Tuitt himself. The 29-year-old cited the tragic passing of his brother in 2020 and his recent graduation from Notre Dame as inspiration to move on from his football life.

Tuitt did not play in 2021 after his brother, Richard, was killed in a car accident in June of that year. Before that, the former second-round pick had started 79 games in seven seasons. His final year, 2020, was Tuitt’s best: 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and 10 TFLs.

Good luck to Tuitt as he begins his next chapter.

ESPN’s FPI has Browns highly ranked, best AFC North odds

Matching up with recent betting lines, ESPN’s FPI holds the Browns in high regard:

The Cleveland Browns have had an interesting offseason with more moves yet to come. QB Baker Mayfield has likely played his last down for the team, despite one expert thinking he could fill in if needed, while Deshaun Watson awaits potential discipline.

Jadeveon Clowney is still expected to return, perhaps when mandatory minicamps end, but nothing is certain there.

The Browns could also make a play for some of the other veterans still on the market. Ndamukong Suh was predicted to sign with the team and a few receivers, including Julio Jones and Will Fuller, also remain on the market.

We share previously that Cleveland is the betting favorite in the AFC North and in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

With the schedule out and a majority of the offseason moves made, ESPN has released their Football Power Index information. They have the Browns as the tenth best team in the NFL:

FPI also has Cleveland with a 35% chance of winning the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens just slightly behind at 32% and last year’s division winner, the Cincinnati Bengals, with only a 24% chance.

The Browns have been hyped up before but both betting lines and analytical lines are presenting the same thing before the start of minicamps. Like all analyses, what matters is what happens on the field. For now, Cleveland is looked at as one of the top teams in the NFL.

Browns installed as betting favorites to win AFC North

Browns are the favorites as of now, by a slim margin, with the Steelers the biggest longshot in the division:

The Cleveland Browns 2022 schedule is, mostly, set with a slate of games against some tough opponents and others against teams who have lower expectations nationally.

Like all teams in the NFL, the Browns best route to the playoffs is through their division. With only one bye given out, to the top overall seed, in each conference, and strong variability with the AFC, focusing on the AFC North is prudent for Cleveland.

For many years, the AFC North has been run by the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers with the Cincinnati Bengals having a good year every once and while. In 2021, the Bengals not only won the division but made it to the Super Bowl before falling to the Los Angeles Rams.

Despite that, and the return of Lamar Jackson to health, Tipico Sportsbook has installed the Browns as the favorites to win the division:

With Deshaun Watson leading the way, and any potential discipline seemingly unlikely in 2022, Cleveland hopes that the odds are stacked in their favor. Going into the offseason, the team had some specific identified needs and still have some questions on the defensive line and with their receiver depth.

The Browns are expecting Watson to help unlock Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz while Jadeveon Clowney (and Ndamukong Suh) could help fortify the defensive line needs.

For now, with much of the roster movement complete, Cleveland is the favorite in the AFC North, barely, with Pittsburgh having a wide margin as the biggest betting underdog.

Browns top 5 in least amount of miles to travel during 2022 season

The Browns will fly the fourth least amount of miles in the NFL but still more than 3,000 more than the Steelers. The AFC North makes up 4 of the bottom 6 teams with two NFC North teams rounding it out:

When evaluating an NFL schedule, there are a lot of factors that can impact a team’s results. What quarterbacks they play, the coaches they play, how many back-to-back road games are on the schedule, when are their short weeks due to primetime games and a few other variables can play a big role in the outcome of a season.

Travel can be a big part of evaluating a schedule, especially looking at west coast teams having to travel all the way across to the east coast. We will get the full schedule Thursday night but a unique piece of the schedule is how far teams have to travel for all of their games.

That is already determined and greatly benefits the AFC North and two NFC North teams. All six of the least amount of miles are from those two conferences:

NFL draft: AFC North make big moves in the wild first round

Steelers may have selected the wrong QB of the future, the Ravens may have upset their franchise QB and the Bengals seem like they are planning to lose one of their best defenders with their pick:

The Cleveland Browns traded their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft as a part of the trade to acquire QB Deshaun Watson. That trade, along with acquiring WR Amari Cooper in another trade, are the biggest moves of their offseason so far. Sitting back to see how the rest of the AFC North made moves in the first round.

With the AFC a loaded conference, the path to the playoffs is much simpler by winning the division title. Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals took that title and ran with it all the way to the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers limped into the playoffs while the Baltimore Ravens struggled with injuries all year.

All four teams in the division have hopes for the playoffs in 2022 and have made moves this offseason with that in mind. So what did the division do on Thursday night?