AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


Bengals executive Duke Tobin said they were not interested in trading away the No. 1 overall pick and the right to select QB Joe Burrow in the 2020 NFL Draft.

“We don’t talk publicly about offers. We really weren’t interested in trading it anyway,” said Tobin, via Geoff Hobson of the team’s official site. “We felt good about sitting there and taking him and that was the most important thing to us, more so than what any team might want.”

Bengals’ director of college scouting Mike Potts doesn’t feel they reached for any of their seven draft picks. 

I can honestly say we don’t feel we reached in any round. Regardless of what teams want to say after the draft, I don’t think most teams can say that ever year. I don’t think it’s always true teams pick the best available player even though that’s what they say. Regardless, you’re always looking to fill certain positions on your roster,” said Potts. 

Regarding the Bengals drafting WR Tee Higgins at No. 33 overall, Potts said their staff was not confident that an “impact” receiver would not be available by their third-round pick. 

“With six receivers and four true linebackers going in the first round, that receiver position was thinning out. With how quickly it was thinning out the odds of us staying patient at that receiver position for a guy we thought could come in and make a real impact at pick 65 in the third round, are that much lower. You roll the dice a little bit with the linebacker numbers, but the odds are there and in your back pocket you have the ability to trade up if a position group is getting picked over,” said Potts. 


New HC Kevin Stefanski said that he has high expectations for QB Baker Mayfield entering his third season in the league.

“I feel confident [he’ll excel] in the system we’re implementing,’’ Stefanski told 850 ESPN Cleveland. “I think we added some pieces to the offensive side of the ball which can only help the development of a young quarterback. We’re gonna work our hardest with this kid. We’re gonna keep our thumb on him. It’s just a matter of the players rising to the occasion. I think Baker has done that throughout his lifetime. He’s won in high school. He’s won in college and he’s won some games in the NFL…“Now it’s his third year and there’s just a natural progression to these things,’’ he said. “I do have a lot of confidence in Baker, but I’m not going to speak it into existence, and neither will he. It’s going to be a matter of hard work from Baker, from our coaches, and from our entire offense.”

  •’s Mary Kay Cabot says while there hasn’t been any reported interest, she wouldn’t be surprised to see the Browns add someone like former Rams LB Clay Matthews, as he’d be a good fit. 
  • She adds Browns WR Rashard Higgins likely has the leg up on the No. 3 receiver job because of his experience and rapport with Mayfield.
  • Cabot doesn’t believe the additions of DT Andrew Billings in free agency and DT Jordan Elliott in the third round of the draft will preclude the Browns from trying to extend DT Larry Ogunjobi‘s contract. 


  • Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said the team’s largest needs are at the offensive line or edge rusher, but they do not have a lot of salary-cap flexibility with just $10.79 million to spend. DeCosta did, however, say he likes their young players at each of those positions. (Jamison Hensley)
  • DeCosta mentioned that they view second-round RB J.K. Dobbins as a potential three-down player: “We think he’s a three-down back. He’s been extremely durable. He’s an outstanding fit for what we like to do.” (Hensley)
  • As for how the Ravens could make more cap space going forward, DeCosta said long-term extensions for OLB Matt Judon and OT Ronnie Stanley would accomplish that, but they haven’t been able to finalize a deal: “We’ve had dialogue with both agents. We haven’t been able to get a deal done.” (Jeff Zrebiec)
  • DeCosta said Ravens DL Pernell McPhee “set the standard” as a team leader and can help younger players learn quickly: “They understand the Ravens way.” (Hensley
  • DeCosta said they felt Ravens UDFA TE Jacob Breeland was among the best tight ends in the 2020 NFL Draft prior to sustaining a knee injury. 
  • DeCosta also mentioned that Ravens UDFA TE Eli Wolf has a “very realistic” chance to make the active roster. (Zrebiec)
  • When asked about the Ravens’ interest in WR Antonio Brown, DeCosta said he is focused on the receivers currently on their roster: “We’re excited about those guys. We feel like we’re going to take our offense to another level this year.” (Zrebiec)
  • As for the Ravens’ competition at the center position, DeCosta mentioned that Bradley Bozeman and Patrick Mekari could compete for the job. Veteran C Matt Skura has had a “great offseason” recovering from a horrific knee injury. (Zrebiec)
  • DeCosta would not answer whether the Ravens would keep three quarterbacks and insisted the team will sign “the best players” to their active roster. (Jeff Zrebiec)


Steelers GM Kevin Colbert created some headlines earlier this offseason when his suggestion to expand the draft during a league conference call was leaked. Colbert confirmed he proposed the idea and expanded upon his rationale. 

“It was disappointing when you have what are supposed to be confidential conference calls where you discuss ideas about the draft,” Colbert said via Pro Football Talk, “and I did. I did make that suggestion. Why don’t we think about three extra rounds? And the reasoning was, part of it was selfish. You wanted to have a safety net because we’re dealing with less information, and the more picks you have, maybe you’ll have a little bit of a safety net again. The other thing was it would give the marginal player that didn’t get his opportunity to go to a Pro Day and to perform. Maybe there will be more players drafted and then those players will then again have the chance they might not get.”

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