AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


  • According to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, new Browns CB Kevin Johnson drew interest from the Bengals before agreeing to a one-year contract worth up to $6 million.
  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. expects the Bengals to add another linebacker before the end of free agency, though it will likely be out of the bargain bin. 
  • While there’s no rush on the move, Dehner expects the Bengals to release CB Dre Kirkpatrick at some point before the start of next season. 


  • According to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, new Browns CB Kevin Johnson drew interest from the Browns before agreeing to a one-year contract worth up to $6 million.
  • Browns DT Sheldon Richardson had $6 million of his $11.9 million base salary become fully guaranteed Friday. (Jake Trotter)
  • Browns OT Jack Conklin‘s five-year, $70 million deal includes a $15 million signing bonus, base salaries of salaries $5 million, $10 million, $12 million, $14 million and $14 million. (Wilson)
  • Conklin’s base salaries in 2020 and 2021 are guaranteed, while the final two years are set to void on the fifth day of the 2023 league year. 
  • Browns S Karl Joseph‘s one-year, $2.5 million deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus, $1.5 million base, a per-game roster bonus up to $500,000 and up to $1 million in a playing time plus playoffs incentive. (Wilson)


The Ravens are mostly out of cap space to make any more big-money moves. However, the Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec lists 10 players who could be had cheaply for Baltimore:


In his last public comments at the Combine, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert hinted that he expected QB Ben Roethlisberger to come back stronger than ever. Roethlisberger echoed those comments, saying that after his elbow injury he’s now throwing pain-free for the first time in years. 

“I have no doubts I’m going to be able to come back and play well — none,” Roethlisberger said via Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I have complete confidence in that. I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years. Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”

Roethlisberger plans to take it easy in his recovery and not rush things given he still has plenty of time until training camp and the start of the season. 

“I’ll gradually ramp up the number of days and the throws and the distance and the velocity,” he said. “I really feel like I could let it rip right now if I had to, but what’s the point? There’s no need for me to rush it. Our goal was for me to be 80, 90, 100% by OTAs and minicamp. Now that it looks like those things are going to be canceled [because of the COVID-19 pandemic], I can take my time a little more.”

Roethlisberger also pushed back against online criticism that he’s overweight based on photos of him working out, saying his prodigious offseason beard doesn’t do him any favors. 

“I’ve heard people say I’m fat, and that just blows my mind,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m lighter and in better shape than I was in either of the past two years. I haven’t stopped working out. I normally don’t work out in the offseason, but I’ve been doing everything five days a week with my trainer. Cardio twice a week. Legs twice a week. Upper body twice a week. I guess it’s my beard that makes me look heavier. I must have five pounds in that, I know. But I’m not overweight.”

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