Around the AFC North: What to Expect in Free Agency

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Bud Dupree Franchise Tag Could Spell Cuts Elsewhere

The Steelers are seemingly always pressed tight to the salary cap and this year is no different with Ben Roethlisberger carrying a $33.5 million cap hit.

On Monday morning, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on pass rusher Bud Dupree, who is coming off a breakout season with 11.5 sacks opposite T.J. Watt. Dupree is a young former first-round pick and the Steelers, who led the league in sacks last year, want to maintain that bite.

However, giving Dupree the tag is extremely expensive, especially considering he should be classified as a defensive end.

"Keeping Dupree will mean letting go of some expensive veterans to clear space, but he proved this season that he's worth it," ESPN's Brooke Pryor wrote.

Veterans who could be released or parted with include tight end Vance McDonald (club option), guard Ramon Foster, and linebackers Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo.

Cleveland Browns: Keep a Top Linebacker or Let Him Walk?

With a roster loaded with big-name stars, Joe Schobert doesn't stand out. However, he has been one of the Browns' best players over the past three seasons. Now he might be in line to take his services elsewhere.

Schobert will fetch a fine contract on the open market after leading the Browns in tackles (133) by a wide margin last season. He also notched two sacks, four interceptions, nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Schobert finished in a three-way tie for the most tackles in the league (144) in 2017.

But with a pair of promising rising sophomore linebackers in Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki, "the front office will probably be willing to move on from Schobert, instead of paying him the money he will command coming off a banner season," wrote ESPN's Jake Trotter.

Cincinnati Bengals: A $25 Million Spending Spree Is Coming

Since the ratification of the last CBA in 2011, the Bengals have spent in the top half of the league primarily because they've reached extensions with so many of their own players – quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green, wide receiver Tyler Boyd, defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, etc.

However, this year it looks like the Bengals will take their money more to the open market, where they have not been big players. According to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, Cincinnati is expected to spend about $25 million in free agency.

They already cleared more cap space on Friday with the release of veteran left tackle Cordy Glenn. They reportedly placed the franchise tag on Green Monday morning.

Hobson said it's the defense that the Bengals want to upgrade in free agency, and they reportedly have a visit lined up with defensive end Derek Wolfe, who played his college ball in Cincinnati.

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