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AFC North quarterback situation in flux heading into next season

When looking at the quarterbacks in the AFC North, next season certainly could look different.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The calendar has officially turned to 2023, and while the NFL Playoffs rage on, 3 out of the 4 teams who call the AFC North are home already embroiled in offseason issues. When looking at the four teams’ quarterback situations, 2023 could look vastly different than it did in 2022.

Let’s take a look...

Baltimore Ravens

When Lamar Jackson became the starter for the Ravens, fans of the rest of the division knew it was only a matter of time until Baltimore had a tough decision to make. Pay him the big, long term contract he desires, trade him, or let him walk in free agency.

After utilizing the 5th year option on Jackson last season, the Ravens are adamant they want to bring back the former NFL MVP.

“I truly believe Lamar wants to finish his career in Baltimore,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Thursday at his press conference.

“I have every faith that it’s going to get done. Eric wants him here. I want him here. Steve [Bisciotti, Ravens owner] wants him here, and Lamar wants to be here. So, it’s going to work out.” John Harbaugh said.

While the Ravens could place a franchise tag on Jackson, the two sides seem to be in a stalemate as it pertains to contract negotiations. If the Ravens decide to trade Jackson, or let him walk, they would be starting over at the position. After firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman earlier in the week, it certainly leaves the future of the Ravens’ offense up-in-the-air.

Cincinnati Bengals

Of the four teams in the division, the Bengals are the team who has to feel the most confident about their quarterback position. Joe Burrow has proven he is an elite quarterback/leader in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean things will always be smooth and easy for Cincinnati.

With Burrow still on his rookie contract, the Bengals have the benefit of using his 5th year option and giving him an extension following the 2022 regular season. While it would be a shocking turn of events to see Burrow in a different jersey, the Bengals are about to reach a time when they will have to pay Burrow the same way the Steelers were with Ben Roethlisberger. As many fans would say in these situations, time to back up the Brinks truck for Mr. Burrow and cap strap the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns

There is no team who gave up more, and paid more handsomely, than what the Browns gave to the Houston Texans to acquire Deshaun Watson. All that draft capital and the guaranteed contract certainly is an investment into the former 1st Round draft pick out of Clemson.

After only playing in 6 games following his suspension for off-field transgressions, Watson put up the following stat line:

Record: 3-3

58.2 Completion %, 1,102 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 79.1 Rating

Watson had the look of a player who hadn’t played in over a year, but he did very little in terms of proving he is the long term answer to the position the Browns haven’t been able to solve since Bernie Kosar was the quarterback. If he has a slow start in 2023, you can expect even more complaining about the trade from the Browns loyal following.

Pittsburgh Steelers

If I were to write this article a year ago, there would be a large gap between the Steelers and the rest of the division, as it pertains to the quarterback position. Nonetheless, the Steelers addressed the position in multiple ways during the offseason, and looked to have found their next quarterback by selecting Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Is Pickett perfect? Far from it. Has he done enough to convince the organization and the majority of the fan base he is the guy the team will attempt to build around during his rookie deal? Absolutely.

The Steelers offense took a big step forward in the second half of the regular season, but they will have to continue this progression before the entirety of the Steelers fan base is on board with Pickett as the next franchise quarterback. Nonetheless, there is at least promise for the Steelers at the quarterback position moving forward, and now it is the Steelers’ turn to win with a young quarterback on a team-friendly deal.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.