Which free-agent signing will have the biggest impact in the division?
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson. The Ravens have used back-to-back free-agency periods to form one of the league’s best safety tandems. Signing Eric Weddle last offseason is paying off, and Jefferson, who agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal on the first day of free agency, gives Baltimore a hard-hitting playmaker coming off a season of 96 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks in 15 games. When general manager Ozzie Newsome gives a defensive back $14 million guaranteed, you know he can play. Jefferson should feel right at home in a toughness-first AFC North, and Baltimore has another sparring partner with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown every December.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter: Jefferson. While Kenny Britt should put up some big numbers in Cleveland, Baltimore sure hopes Jefferson makes the biggest impact on the AFC North race after giving him $19 million guaranteed and luring him away from a division team (the Browns actually offered more). Jefferson was the NFL's fifth-best safety last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and he'll team with Weddle to give Baltimore one of the best safety tandems in the league. Jefferson excels in covering tight ends and taking them out of games. Upgrading the secondary is critical for a team that has Roethlisberger standing in its way of an AFC North title.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns reporter: Building a successful unit via free agency can be difficult, but the Ravens' trio of moves to shore up their defense have logic behind them. Retaining nose tackle Brandon Williams keeps one of the best players at his position in Baltimore. Adding Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr strengthens the secondary. Jefferson was the best safety on the market; Carr has not missed a game since he joined the NFL in 2008. Baltimore spent almost $60 million in guaranteed money on these three players, but they are moves that should put the Ravens right back in the playoff hunt in 2017.
Katherine Terrell, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: Guard Kevin Zeitler moving from the Bengals to the Browns on a five-year, $60 million contract, although a case could also be made for Jefferson. How does a guard have any major impact on the division? While it's hard to say a guard will have a significant impact by himself, it's more about what it might mean for two franchises in the long term. The Bengals now have to replace two of their best offensive linemen -- a tall order, considering Andy Dalton was sacked 41 times last season. In contrast, the Browns clearly have made a commitment to invest in their offensive line. They also added former Packers center JC Tretter and extended guard Joel Bitonio. Combine that with perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, and suddenly, Cleveland might have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Now they just have to find a quarterback.