Free agency officially begins March 12, so the AFC North blog is counting down the 20 best free agents (unrestricted and restricted) from the teams in the division. For those wondering, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will be on this list despite signing today. This was a ranking of all projected free agents in February, and there was no way to predict who would sign before free agency began.
Now, let's continue with No. 8 ...
Status: Unrestricted free agent
The good: He is one of the most consistent kickers in the league. Dawson's leg is still strong enough to drive the ball in inclement weather and from long distances. He hit an amazing 14-of-15 from beyond 50 yards the past two seasons. A Pro Bowl player for the first time last season, Dawson was the second-most accurate kicker in the NFL last season, making 29 of 31 attempts (93.5 percent).
The bad: Dawson is 38 and you have to wonder how many years he has left in that leg. You saw how the usually reliable David Akers fell apart this season at the age of 38. Dawson also only managed 30 touchbacks, which tied for 16th in the league last season.
The bottom line: Dawson, the only player left from the Browns' 1999 expansion team, isn't expected to stay in Cleveland. The Browns may not want to invest heavily in an aging kicker during their rebuilding phase, thinking the money could be better spent elsewhere to help the team farther down the line. Also, Dawson's family lives in Austin, Texas, (and his son is a Cowboys fan). There's a good chance that Dawson would like to play closer to home.