by Brian Hawkes and Josh Johnson
Put yourself in the NFL General Manager’s shoes…If you have a player who has little guaranteed money and he hasn’t performed to expectations (whether due to on field performance, injury, or otherwise), what would you do? If we do this, it’s easy to see why rumors are spreading that the Buccaneers are willing to part ways with Doug Martin or the Broncos may draft a running back in 2017. A savvy dynasty owner looks at salary cap commitments before acquiring a player to assess the stability of the player’s situation. This article will do just that.
Here is the continuation of an in-depth look at all 32 depth charts. We will assess cap commitment for 2017 and beyond, and also the potential opportunity that may present itself if there is roster turnover/ depth chart changes. Today: the AFC North
Baltimore Ravens: This is a youthful back field. West has had an up and down career but he is serviceable. If the Ravens bring him back we do not see the Ravens looking at a RB early. Allen barely played in 2016. That was extremely disappointing and puzzling in some regards. If West walks that might be a vote of confidence for Allen. Remember West seemed dead in the water prior to 2016. Maybe Allen takes a similar path to touches. Dixon is the true emerging star. We are confident he moves into a feature roll full-time in 2017. His dual threat abilities suggest the Ravens will use their early picks on their bigger areas of need.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have some nice battle tested youth. Hill is the workhorse who has remained relatively healthy. His job and his at least 50% touch share are safe. Bernard is fighting his way back from an ACL tear and he might not be ready for week one. This could leave a gray area for the Bengals to pull the trigger an RB if the value is there in third round and beyond. Burkhead as been a loyal teammate/role player if he is re-signed that might tell us all we need to know about Bernard’s recovery.
Cleveland Browns: Their current backfield has youth and some solid experience. Atkinson is really a non-factor who could be cut at any moment. Crowell has been a horse for three years and he improved his YPC by 1 whole yard from 2015 to 2016, even with their offensive line woes. He gets disrespected because he is the Cleveland starter but he is a starter and he hasn’t missed a game in his career. He might fetch something as a RFA since he just turned 24. Johnson’s value would temporarily skyrocket if Crowell signs with someone else. Yet, that would certainly mean that Cleveland plans on drafting an RB in 2017 and possibly 2018.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers have next to no money on the books for RBs. Roosevelt Nix doesn’t really count and Karlos Williams signed a futures contract. Bell should re-sign but it will cost the Steelers a ton. His various suspensions and injuries do not reinforce his desires to be the league’s highest paid back. Bell is amazing when he is on the field. Williams is likely done unless Bell is not re-signed then we see him signing a one year insurance (because he knows the scheme) kind of deal. Toussaint is not really anything but an emergency RB3. It appears they almost need to draft someone even if Bell comes back.