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5 AFC North newcomers who will impact Browns' pursuit of playoff berth

The big noise of free agency was muffled a bit in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore took a measured, cost-effective approach to free agency similar to the Browns and made more of an impact on their respective rosters through the draft.

As we worked to compile this list, that was certainly apparent, though we did find a free agent acquisition or two that will play a big role in their respective team's games against the Browns.

WR Breshad Perriman - Baltimore

The Ravens' first-round pick promises to have a big role within a Baltimore offense that should look fairly similar to last year's. He provides the immediate answer to the departure of Torrey Smith, who signed a lucrative deal with the 49ers. Perriman was under the radar during his college career but burst on the scene during the months leading into the draft because of his top-flight athleticism and promise. With the arrival of veteran Tramon Williams, the Browns could potentially use Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden on the speedy rookie while Williams covers Steve Smith, who gave Haden some problems last season.

RB DeAngelo Williams - Pittsburgh

The Browns won't face the Steelers during Le'Veon Bell's suspension but Williams should still have a valuable role in the offense when the teams meet Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh and Jan. 3 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Pittsburgh never really had a second option at running back after it cut LeGarrette Blount during the second half of the regular season. Williams' presence will be vital for a Pittsburgh running game that ran out of gas near the end of 2014. When healthy, Williams can also be a consistent threat in the passing game, too.

DE Michael Johnson - Cincinnati

One year earlier, Johnson was one of the NFL's biggest free agent acquisitions, as he left the Bengals for some serious money with the Buccaneers. This year? Johnson, whom the Buccaneers released, flew under the radar and landed with his old team in what promises to be a much better situation than what he experienced in Tampa Bay. Johnson's best season came in 2012, when he had 11.5 sacks. If he can come close to those numbers in 2015, it will be a big upgrade for a Bengals defense that was last in the NFL with 20 sacks in 2014.

TE Maxx Williams - Ravens

Baltimore lost Owen Daniels in free agency to the Broncos but appears to have a ready-made replacement in Williams, a second-round pick who was the first tight end selected in the 2015 draft. Williams was coveted by the Steelers, but the Ravens were able to pluck him away and position him to have an immediate impact as a rookie. The Browns did a good job of limiting Daniels in their two meetings last season, holding the veteran to just a combined three catches for 54 yards. If Williams catches on right away, though, he could become Joe Flacco's best friend on third downs and beyond and provide a solid, one-two punch alongside Crockett Gillmore.

DB Senquez Golson - Steelers

After the Ravens picked Williams, the Steelers bolstered their secondary by landing Golson, who racked up 10 interceptions in his final season at Ole Miss. Golson, a traditional cornerback in college despite his size (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) is no lock to be in the starting lineup, but he has the talent to emerge as an upgrade for the Steelers at nickel cornerback. The Steelers ranked 26th in the NFL last season in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He'll be a player to watch throughout training camp, as little is settled in a Steelers secondary that hopes to be better in 2015.

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