Street Talk AFC North salary cap update

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We are getting a lot of questions about the potential salary caps in the AFC North following Wednesday’s piece on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The number is expected to be $120 million in 2011.

Here is a look at where AFC North teams stand, via senior writer John Clayton:

Baltimore Ravens

Cap situation: $5.33 million under

Skinny: The Ravens are in decent shape. Cutting backup running back Willis McGahee will shave $2.5 million off their cap, according to Clayton. Taking the franchise tag off Pro Bowl defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and working out a long-term contract is another move that provides cap room for Baltimore to make a few moves in free agency.

Cincinnati Bengals

Cap situation: $35.9 million under

Skinny: Cincinnati is significantly under the cap, and with proposed mandatory spending, the usually reserved Bengals will be forced to be major players in free agency. The only question is will the Bengals, who have a scant front office and no general manager, make the right calls? Free-agent corner Johnathan Joseph should be back in play now that Cincinnati has more than $35 million to spend. Cincinnati also is in the market for a starting running back.

Cleveland Browns

Cap situation: $33.3 million under

Skinny: The Browns also will be major players and have plenty of holes to fill. Cleveland still needs starters at defensive end, safety and possibly the entire right side of the offensive line. President Mike Holmgren has the green light from owner Randy Lerner. So look for the Browns to make a couple of significant signings and add depth at other spots in an effort to narrow the gap this year with the Ravens and Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Cap situation: $10.51 million over

Skinny: The veteran Steelers are the most cash-strapped team in the division. We broke down several options for Pittsburgh to get back under the cap, but don’t expect the Steelers to do much in free agency. Cornerback is a major question and probably the only place the Steelers will spend big bucks this summer, whether it’s to re-sign Ike Taylor or add someone else.

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