Roster turnover for every AFC North team
Returning for the 2016 season, PFF’s snaps lost series takes a detailed look at the playing time void created by players who have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left via free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we will be looking at what percentage of each teams’ total snaps are in need of replacement, rather than raw snap-count totals. Each team will have a ranking following their percentage of snaps lost, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
- Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2016 snap counts are not considered.
- “Biggest losses” are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
- All snap counts are regular-season only.
With those qualifiers in mind, let’s first dive into the AFC North.
Overall snaps lost: 23.65 percent, 19th-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 18.82 percent, eighth)
Offensive snaps lost: 20.25 percent, 18th (2015: 16.78 percent, 10th)
Biggest losses: OL Kelechi Osemele (993), WR Chris Givens (451), WR Marlon Brown (409), LT Eugene Monroe (319)
Osemele was one of the best young offensive linemen on the market, and as such received a lucrative deal from the Raiders. Givens caught just 20 passes last season, and the Ravens deemed him expendable; he’ll spend next season just northeast in Philadelphia. Brown turned his 253 passing plays into a paltry 112 receiving yards and is currently a free agent. Monroe retired amidst injury concerns, and after averaging 531 snaps over the last two years, his concerns seem justified.
Replacement plan: With the sixth-overall pick, the Ravens grabbed Monroe’s replacement, Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame). John Urschel wasn’t great last season, but he appears to be the best option to replace Osemele at left guard. The ageless Steve Smith amassed a strongly-positive grade on just 352 snaps in 2015, and while he should be able to increase his snap count in 2016, it might be optimistic to expect a massive increase at his age. Mike Wallace (Vikings) joined his fourth team in five years by signing with Baltimore this offseason, and should feature heavily in the offense, while former first-round pick Breshad Perriman could even see the field after struggling with injuries so far in his brief career.
Defensive snaps lost: 27.04 percent, 19th (2015: 20.87 percent, 10th)
Biggest losses: ILB Daryl Smith (1002), S Will Hill (976), OLB Courtney Upshaw (821)
Smith had a bit of a down year, grading negatively in six of his last seven games with the Ravens, and after being cut, found a one-year deal with Tampa Bay. Baltimore saved some money cutting Hill, but his upcoming 10-game suspension likely played a larger role in his release. Despite playing reasonably well in his four years with the Ravens, Upshaw managed only a one-year contract, likely due to his lack of productivity rushing the passer, and will play out the 2016 season in Atlanta.
Replacement plan: Baltimore signed one of the best safeties around in Eric Weddle (Chargers), who has earned a +5.0 or higher cumulative overall grade every season of his career. Smith’s departure leaves the inside linebacker position opposite C.J. Mosley available, and in all likelihood, either Zachary Orr or Arthur Brown will take over in the middle of the defense. It’s unknown when Terrell Suggs will be cleared to play, but at the very least, he should be able to top the 55 snaps he managed last year before tearing his Achilles. Za’Darius Smith should also be able to increase his contribution (416 snaps last year) in his sophomore campaign.
Overall snaps lost: 23.47 percent, 18th (2015: 14.94 percent, third)
Offensive snaps lost: 20.95 percent, 20th (2015: 17.61 percent, 12th)
Biggest losses: WR Marvin Jones (925), RT Andre Smith (907), WR Mohamed Sanu (661)
Jones and Sanu each took generous deals to become No. 2 receivers (Jones in Detriot, Sanu in Atlanta). Aside from those two and A.J. Green, the remaining Bengal receivers played a combined 89 snaps last season. Smith inked a one-year deal, and in all likelihood, will win the starting job at right tackle in Minnesota.
Replacement plan: Cedric Ogbuehi, the Bengals’ 2015 first-round pick, will compete with Eric Winston at right tackle, though Ogbuehi should have the inside track based on age and potential. Expect Brandon Tate and free agent signing Brandon LaFell (Patriots) to fill in behind Green, but second-round pick Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh) could press both for playing time as the season goes on.
Defensive snaps lost: 26.00 percent, 18th (2015: 12.28 percent, fifth)
Biggest losses: S Reggie Nelson (1074), CB Leon Hall (677), DE Wallace Gilberry (641)
Nelson and his fourth-ranked coverage grade will be in Oakland this season after drawing relatively little interest during free agency. Hall has graded positively in every season of his career, and recently inked a deal with the Giants. Gilberry was signed to a one-year deal by the Lions to be part of their defensive end rotation.
Replacement plan: The Bengals first-round pick, cornerback William Jackson III (Houston), suffered a torn pectoral in practice earlier this week, likely solidifying the Bengals’ CB starting lineup; Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick will likely fill the second and third cornerback positions behind incumbent Adam Jones. George Iloka played over 1,100 snaps in 2013 and 2014, and should be back up to that snap count after missing a few games last year, but the bulk of Nelson’s snaps will likely be replaced by either Derron Smith or Shawn Williams. The loss of Gilberry vacates the rotational defensive end position, which should be filled by Margus Hunt and Will Clarke, who combined for under 200 snaps last season
Overall snaps lost: 35.38 percent, 32nd (2015: 25.30 percent, 16th)
Offensive snaps lost: 38.28 percent, 31st (2015: 26.73 percent, 22nd)
Biggest losses: C Alex Mack (1135), RT Mitchell Schwartz (1135), WR Travis Benjamin (875), WR Brian Hartline (526), TE Jim Dray (457), QB Johnny Manziel (446)
Mack chose to void his contract and headed south to Atlanta, where he agreed to terms on a five year deal. RT Schwartz took his talents to Kansas City after playing every offensive snap during his four years with the Browns. Seeking an upgrade at quarterback, Benjamin joined QB Philip Rivers in San Diego. Hartline has generated little interest on the free-agent market after getting cut in March. Buffalo signed Dray on a one-year contract to add some tight end depth. Manziel’s off-field transgressions have been well-documented, and rather unsurprisingly, no teams have been seriously inquiring about his services.
Replacement plan: Cameron Erving should slot in at center for the departed Mack, though Cleveland fans will be hoping he improves at a new position after earning negative grades last season playing mostly guard. Austin Pasztor is the front-runner at right tackle, but he’ll also have to improve dramatically if the Browns want to avoid a severe drop-off in performance. First-round pick Corey Coleman (Baylor) should figure prominently in the offense, and in exciting news, Josh Gordon should be back in Week 5, though his effectiveness after so much time away from the game remains to be seen. In Dray’s place, sophomore E.J. Bibbs will look to handle the second tight end duties behind Gary Barnidge. And at the all-important quarterback position, we’re likely to see some combination of Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, with third-round pick Cody Kessler waiting in the wings.
Defensive snaps lost: 32.48 percent, 27th (2015: 23.86 percent, 14th)
Biggest losses: LB Karlos Dansby (1052), S Donte Whitner (870), S Tashaun Gipson (822), DE Randy Starks (477)
Despite playing great football for most of his career, Dansby was once again sent packing, this time landing in Cincinnati. Whitner remains unsigned even after back-to-back positively-graded seasons in Cleveland. Gipson vacates the other safety position, accepting a five-year deal with the Jaguars. Deemed not to be a part of their rebuilding plans, Starks was cut by the Browns in February and is still available.
Replacement plan: None of Cleveland’s defensive linemen topped 600 snaps last year, so Starks’ absence could be resolved with slight increases by a number of players, including last year’s first round pick Danny Shelton. After four years with the Jets, Demario Davis is now a Brown, and should man Dansby’s former position at inside linebacker. Rahim Moore didn’t stick in Houston and should compete with Jordan Poyer for one of the safety positions this season, but there will be question marks opposite him, where less-proven players like Ibraheim Campbell (102 career snaps) will compete for the starting job.
Overall snaps lost: 18.29 percent, ninth (2015: 16.52 percent, sixth)
Offensive snaps lost: 12.97 percent, 12th (2015: 5.64 percent, second)
Biggest losses: TE Heath Miller (944), OT Kelvin Beachum (329)
Suspensions aren’t figured into the Steelers’ turnover here, but Martavis Bryant (529 snaps last season) and Le’Veon Bell both will miss significant time this season, though Bell may actually play more if he stays healthy. Miller retired, ending his impressive 11-year career with the Steelers, which includes a six-year stretch (2007–2012) where he graded above +15.0 in every season. Beachum’s season ended in Week 6 with a torn ACL, and he opted to take an option-based “prove-it” type deal with the Jaguars.
Replacement plan: Alejandro Villanueva managed 772 snaps last year and will move into the starting spot permanently after taking over for Beachum mid-season, but the Steelers also brought in Ryan Harris (Broncos) as a reasonably-priced insurance policy. Pittsburgh wrangled Ladarius Green away from the Chargers on a four-year deal that should see him featured more heavily in the offense.
Defensive snaps lost: 23.61 percent, 14th (2015: 27.40 percent, 19th)
Biggest losses: CB Antwon Blake (937), S Will Allen (829), NT Steve McLendon (386)
Antwon Blake and his league-leading 32 missed tackles will not be missed, and he’s set to compete for a starting spot in Tennessee. Allen turned in a respectable season, but at 34 years old, the Steelers elected to let the 12-year vet hit the open market. McLendon was a solid rotational player in his six years in the Steel City, and will look to continue to contribute with the Jets.
Replacement plan: Pittsburgh hit defensive back early and often in the draft, grabbing Artie Burns (Miami) in the first and Sean Davis (Maryland) in the second. Both should see the field in their first season, though not necessarily in starting roles. Shamarko Thomas will be hungry for playing time, but second-year CB Senquez Golson will likely miss significant time again this season due to a recent injury in camp. Third-round pick Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State) and third-year player Daniel McCullers will be rotational players, and should be able to account for McLendon’s part-time role on the defensive interior.