AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

  • Per Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the chance to team up with Bengals DT Geno Atkins was a big draw for new free-agent acquisition DT D.J. Reader: “They won’t be able to double team both of us. I know that for a fact.”
  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. writes the team is planning on the biggest improvement on the offensive line next season coming from LT Jonah Williams and LG Michael Jordan, first and fourth-round picks in 2019 respectively. 
  • Dehner says the team thinks it upgraded with Xavier Su’a-Filo at right guard over John Miller and it thinks Fred Johnson can beat out Bobby Hart to start at right tackle. 
  • While it’s hard to see how the Bengals could keep CB Dre Kirkpatrick at $11 million, Dehner mentions there are people in the building who really like him and want to explore all options. 
  • Dehner thinks there will be a resolution to Bengals QB Andy Dalton‘s situation, either a trade or more likely a release, by the draft in April. 
  • Dehner mentions it makes sense on paper for the Bengals to have interest in free-agent DE Cameron Wake as a pass rusher and mentor, particularly with his past connections to DC Lou Anarumo and HC Zac Taylor.
  • The Bengals did not pursue LB Cory Littleton, who signed with the Raiders, at all in free agency, per Dehner. 
  • He also notes Cincinnati had interest in Broncos free-agent DE Derek Wolfe but that might have been as a backup if they couldn’t land Reader. 

Browns

  • BrownsZone.com’s Scott Petrak doesn’t think the Browns are done making additions at inside linebacker. While Cleveland spent a third-round pick on LB Sione Takitaki last year, the new regime didn’t make that pick.
  • Petrak adds the Browns have moved on and won’t consider bringing back WR Josh Gordon.
  • Browns WR JoJo Natson‘s one-year, $1 million deal includes an $825,000 base salary and up to $175,000 in per-game active roster bonuses. (Aaron Wilson)

Ravens

New Ravens DL Calais Campbell has played too long not to know how the business side of the NFL works, so when the Jaguars shipped him to Baltimore for a fifth-round pick, he wasn’t that surprised. Ending up with the AFC’s No. 1 seed from 2019 instead of soldiering through a rebuild in Jacksonville was also a perk. But that won’t stop Campbell from using the trade and what he feels are doubts about his ability to play at 34, which is geriatric in NFL years, as motivation in 2020. 

“I pay attention when people get traded. In the back of my mind, I wondered what I’d get traded for if I ever got traded,” Campbell said via the team website. “I’m perfectly fine with the way it went down. I’m going to be 34 years old this year. For some reason, it doesn’t matter how much production you have, when you turn a certain age, guys are trying to get rid of you before you just can’t do it anymore. That’s good motivation for me, because I’m always trying to prove them wrong.”

“I feel like my best football has come over the age of 30,” Campbell continued. “The last three years, I feel like I’ve been in my ultimate prime — 31, 32, 33. I’m hoping I can keep that going. I’ve spent so much time and effort taking care of my body.”

  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec says the Ravens still have needs at interior offensive line, inside linebacker, edge rusher, wide receiver and cornerback. 
  • Zrebiec points out the free-agent edge rusher market being cooler than expected has likely helped the Ravens’ negotiating stance with LB Matt Judon, who reportedly was seeking $20 million per season. 
  • While the Ravens will need to replace the 41 percent of the snaps TE Hayden Hurst played, Zrebiec doesn’t think it will be a huge priority since Baltimore is still deep at the position. 

Steelers

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