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Evaluating the Quarterback Rooms in the AFC North | 3 of the 4 rooms are All-Black

Evaluating the Quarterback Rooms in the AFC North | 3 of the 4 rooms
Evaluating the Quarterback Rooms in the AFC North | 3 of the 4 rooms are All-Black

There have been quite a few changes in quarterbacks around the NFL this year. The biggest change in the NFL however, is in the AFC North. For the first time ever, three of the four teams in a division have All-Black quarterback rooms and that is pretty damn impressive.

The Browns and Steelers made big changes to their quarterback rooms last week. The Browns signed backups Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley and the Steelers totally overhauled their room, adding both Justin Fields and Russell Wilson for a late round draft pick and 1.2 million dollars.

I wanted to break down some of the quarterback rooms and talk about which team I feel has the best chance to win the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

Starter: Lamar Jackson.

Backup: Josh Johnson, Malik Cunningham

Total 2024 money payout (salary + bonus): $32.4 million for Jackson and $1.21 million for Johnson = $33.6 million.

Total 2024 cap charges: $32.4 million for Jackson and $1.152 million for Johnson = $33.552 million, or 13.1% of total team cap.

Jackson is coming off an MVP season, and the team added veteran journeyman Josh Johnson and former Patriots quarterback Malik Cunningham. I like this quarterbacks room, but can Todd Monken’s offense continue to grow? The Ravens did add some help with Derrick Henry in the backfield, which should increase their Super Bowl odds.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter: Joe Burrow.

Backup: Jake Browning

Total 2024 money payout: $65.714 million for Burrow and $915,000 for Browning = $66.629 million.

Total 2024 cap charges: $29.714 million for Burrow and $915,000 for Browning = $30.629 million, 12% of total team cap.

Burrow has been banged up three of the last four seasons. The Bengals need Burrow to remain healthy if they want to win the AFC North. If Burrow can stay healthy, I am not sure a team can stop them when they are moving on all cylinders. They did just trade their star running back who took a lot off of Joe Burrow, but hopefully they can find a replacement for Mixon.

Cleveland Browns 

Starter: Deshaun Watson.

Backup: Jameis Winston, Tyler Huntley, Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Total 2024 money payout: $46 million for Watson and $4 million for Winston = $50 million.

Total 2024 cap charges: $63.977 million for Watson and $4 million for Winston = $67.977 million, 26.6% of total team cap.

I am not sure what to expect of the Browns. They have invested a ton in Deshaun Watson, but they have added three capable players to replace him. Jameis Winston is better than Watson in my opinion, and last year Joe Flacco looked better than Watson too. The Browns spent some draft capital to obtain wide receiver Jerry Jeudy who has more drops than touchdown passes and just extended his contract, so I am not sure the Browns can turn it around, but their defense is nasty.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starter: Russell Wilson

Backup: Justin Fields

Total 2024 money payout: $1.21 million for Wilson and $3.233 million for Fields = $4.443 million.

Total 2024 cap charges: $1.21 million for Wilson and $3.233 for Fields = $4.443 million, 1.7% of total team cap.

The Steelers went in a total opposite direction, they got rid of Mason Rudolph, Kenny PIckett and Mitch Trubisky. They went to a more athletic quarterback and they did a great job at adding some stars on the cheap. Adding Justin Fields for a late round pick in 2025, and signing Russell Wilson a former Super Bowl Champion for just 1.2 million dollars is great. If the Steelers can add a star wide receiver to pair him with George Pickens the team could blow up!

It is pretty cool to see how many black quarterbacks are now in the NFL. Black quarterbacks have truly evolved and there continues to be an emergence at the position. This year Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr., and Jayden Daniels are considered three of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. If you look at the success CJ Stroud had last year, with the huge arm of Anthony Richardson, the NFL is trending in a new direction. The AFC North maybe following the trend, but the trend has worked over the past several years!


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