3 free-agent moves from the AFC North that Steelers fans can laugh at

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) / Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA

It has been a busy offseason for the Steelers, and while they have dominated most of the AFC North news, the rest of the division has also been busy. It hasn’t been the spending spree that we have seen some of these teams make in the past, but there has still been quite a bit of talent brought in.

While there aren’t any outright horrible contracts given out this offseason, I found one deal from each team that is suspect at the least. To this point, the Steelers haven’t given out any objectively horrible deals, so fans can rest easy knowing that this team is adding players on safe deals. Here are three divisional moves that should have the Steelers laughing at their foes.

Steelers can laugh at the Derrick Henry signing

In what was, perhaps, the least surprising move of the offseason, the Ravens landed Derrick Henry to be their new lead-back. The two parties had been paired together since before the trade deadline, so no one was completely shocked when the move was announced.

For those of you who follow my writing, you know my general opinion on paying running backs. Unless they are a dynamic receiver/runner (think Christian McCaffrey) you can cycle through rookies and undrafted free agents. Bell-cow power backs were a thing of the past, as the wear and tear became an issue with so much usage.

For the longest time, Henry was my lone exception, as he was a dynamic runner for a period of time despite not being much of a receiving threat. For a run-heavy Baltimore team, this seems like a great pairing and one to actually fear.

My issue is that Henry is turning 30 years old this year, and while he has maintained a good level of play, he isn’t the dynamic back that he was in his prime. Baltimore is paying for past production, and running backs are known to have a steep drop-off in production.

You add in the heavy usage (he has had the most carries in four of the last five seasons) and the injuries are slowly mounting. The money isn’t extreme but for an older running back with injuries starting to mount, I don’t think this deal is going to be as much of a home run as many fans think.

Steelers can laugh at the Sheldon Rankins signing

Of the three deals on this list, I think Sheldon Rankins is the least laughable. I always think you should be investing in trench play, and Rankins is a fine interior pass rusher when healthy. My issue is his overall salary, some lingering health issues, and his inconsistencies as a player.

Rankins was hyped as the next Aaron Donald when he entered the league, but that type of production never materialized. He would have stretches of really good play followed up with stretches where he disappeared. Injuries have also been a factor, as he has only played three complete seasons since entering the league.

You also have the issue that no team wants to keep him around long-term. He has played on three teams over the past four seasons and hasn’t found a permanent home. Considering his age and short-term deal, that long-term home likely won’t be with the Bengals.

Again, investing in the defensive line is never a bad thing, but I’m not sure the Bengals are getting a huge upgrade in Rankins. He is a good player who can play great at times, but he can also disappear on the field. They are paying him a lot of money in the hopes that more of the good comes up.

Steelers can laugh at the Jerry Jeudy signing

Of the three contracts on this list, I saved the best (in this case, the worst deal) for last. Frankly, this isn’t close either. Jerry Jeudy has been a bust since being drafted by the Broncos. He has yet to play at an elite level, and the Browns seem to be trying to buy low on him.

Every season has seemed to be Jeudy’s breakout year. Fans buy into the hype, but then he settles into a low-end second-option role on the team and never has those elite stretches where you view him as a legit top star. Cleveland was able to acquire him on the cheap, so inking him to a new deal didn’t seem necessary.

That didn’t stop them from paying him nearly 20 million dollars a season, all for a guy who has struggled to consistently make an impact every year. On top of this, 41 million of that deal is guaranteed, so the Browns are on the hook for him for the next few seasons. It was a clear overpay, and with so many elite receivers entering this draft and cheaper options in free agency, it seems like an unnecessary one.

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The AFC North has been busy trying to one-up each other this offseason. While no team has gone on a spending spree, everyone is making moves to combat one another. Of those new deals, these three stand out as ones that should have Steelers fans laughing.