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Steelers Aren't Done After Trading for Justin Fields

Chicago Bears' Justin Fields scrambles in front of Green Bay Packers' Jonathan Owens during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 17-9.
Chicago Bears' Justin Fields scrambles in front of Green Bay Packers' Jonathan Owens during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 17-9.

The first week of free agency is in the books and no team has shaken things up more than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here's a look at what's happened around the division so far:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Done After Trading for Justin Fields

The Steelers have completely remade their quarterback room. After signing Russell Wilson, Pittsburgh traded 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles for picks. Pickett was reportedly not happy about the promises made to Wilson.

Then the Steelers traded for 2021 first-round quarterback Justin Fields from the Bears, and this time made it publicly clear that Wilson would be the starter.

Pittsburgh now has a veteran on a one-year deal and a young talent entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reports that the Steelers intend to work out a long-term deal after this season.

For now, however, Wilson's veteran minimum contract is allowing Pittsburgh to be more aggressive in free agency. The Steelers are reportedly one of three teams, along with the Jets and Panthers, who will host free agent wide receiver Mike Williams, who was released by the Chargers last week.

Cleveland Browns: Why Jameis Winston Over Joe Flacco?

The Browns have also made some curious quarterback choices this offseason, as they passed on bringing back reigning Comeback Player of the Year Joe Flacco as their backup to Deshaun Watson.

Flacco helped push the Browns into the playoffs and led the NFL's top passing attack after he took over as the team's starter. He made it clear he wanted to return to Cleveland this offseason.

However, the Browns signed Jameis Winston instead to a contract to a deal that ended up being identical in max value ($8.7 million) to the one Flacco later inked with the Colts.

"Is Winston an upgrade or downgrade over Flacco?" ESPN’s Jake Trotter wrote. "Flacco led the league with 323 passing yards per game in his five regular-season starts with the Browns. Winston has just 10 starts combined since 2019, the season he threw 33 TDs and 30 INTs in his final year in Tampa Bay. Watson couldn't stay healthy last year. If he gets banged up again, Cleveland's season could hinge on whether Winston can match what Flacco accomplished last season."

Winston is nine years younger than Flacco, and the stats for Winston the last time he was starter versus Flacco's performance for the Browns in 2023 seem favor Winston.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Malachy Gardner wrote that the Browns' decision "was a matter of head over heart." Trotter cited another possible factor.

"Browns general manager Andrew Berry said he wasn't concerned that a Flacco return might amp up the pressure on Watson going into a critical third season," Trotter wrote. "If Watson had continued to struggle out of the gate, would the fan base have clamored for Flacco? That's one thing Watson or Berry won't have to worry about now."

Cincinnati Bengals: Sheldon Rankins Signed for Interior Pressure

The Bengals reportedly won a bidding war for veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, luring him away from the Texans.

Rankins logged 6 sacks last season and has 29.5 over his over his eight seasons, playing for the Saints, Jets, and Texans.

"Rankins immediately gives Cincinnati a pass-rushing presence in the middle of the defensive line," ESPN’s Ben Baby wrote. "Last season, he was seventh in pass rush win rate as a defensive tackle. The Bengals already have one of the league's best edge rushers in Trey Hendrickson. Rankins should pair well with the current grouping and improve a pass rush that was 18th in total sacks last season."

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