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Around the AFC North: Browns Add Amari Cooper to Spark Passing Attack

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) catches a touchdown during an NFL Super Wild Card Weekend playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.

Cleveland Browns: Reported Amari Cooper Trade Gives Baker Mayfield New No. 1 Target

The Browns struck before the start of free agency to find their new No. 1 receiver.

Cleveland reportedly has reached agreement to acquire Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for 2022 fifth-round and sixth-round picks, according to multiple reports. The trade cannot be finalized until the new league year begins Wednesday.

Browns veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landry has also been given permission to seek a trade, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. However, that didn't materialize and he's now been released.

The Browns didn't have to surrender high draft picks for Cooper, who is still only 27 years old and has enjoyed four 1,000-yard seasons. Cleveland was searching for a new No. 1 receiver and the Cowboys were looking to free up more cap space by unloading Cooper's reported $20 million salary.

Adding Cooper gives quarterback Baker Mayfield a new weapon to help jumpstart Cleveland's passing game. No Browns receiver reached 700 yards in 2021 and the Browns ranked 27th in the NFL in passing.

The Browns could still target a wide receiver in the draft, but getting Cooper decreases their urgency to address that position with the 13th-overall pick.

Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Lineman Could Be Added During Free Agency

Improving the offensive line is a major offseason priority for the Bengals, and that quest could begin during free agency.

Joe Burrow was sacked a league-leading 70 times last season in 21 games, including the regular season and playoffs. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin defended the team's offensive line, but did not deny he would be looking to improve the unit.

"Like every position on our team, we always will look at it and see how we can improve," Tobin said. "I know it's a big story, I know they've taken some heat. … There's a lot more to it than just the sack numbers. We weren't the only ones to get sacked by Tennessee, Oakland, Kansas City and especially the Rams. Those guys did a lot of good work this year but in terms of analysis and whether we can improve, we're obviously going to look to improve. We're not going to be satisfied with where we were."

One offensive lineman who won't be coming to Cincinnati is former Ravens center Ryan Jensen, who re-signed with Tampa Bay after Tom Brady announced he would return for his 23rd season.

However, Cincinnati moved fast Monday to secure a new starting guard, Alex Cappa.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Free Agent Inside Linebackers Could Draw Pittsburgh's Attention

Deciding on a starting quarterback to replace Ben Roethlisberger is the Steelers' biggest offseason question, but they are also focused on improving their defense.

Despite having the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in edge rusher T.J. Watt, the Steelers fell to 24th in overall defense in 2021 and gave up the most rushing yards in the NFL. While Devin Bush and Joe Schobert remain on the roster at inside linebacker, several pundits think Pittsburgh could address that position during free agency.

Joe Rutter of listed five free agent inside linebackers the Steelers could pursue – Leighton Vander Esch, Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Kyzir White and Ja'Whaun Bentley. Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette included Vander Esch and Dont'a Hightower on his list.

Hightower had 64 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Patriots last season, returning after he sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. The 32-year-old Hightower has decided to play next season after considering retirement, according to Mike Giardi of NFL Network.

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