AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. writes the Bengals were really impressed with midseason waiver claim OL Fred Johnson, who started a pair of games late in the year at right tackle.
  • Dehner says his indications are the Bengals will give him the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Bobby Hart as a fallback. 
  • While Cincinnati will likely add help either at right tackle or guard, Dehner says based on OL coach Jim Turner‘s comments the Bengals don’t think they have a massive need on the offensive line: “Do I think we are in terrible shape? Not at all. I think we have good, young talent that we are excited about. Mike Jordan, the jump he and Fred Johnson could make in Year 2 for them we are counting on it. They have to make it. There is really no choice. But you put a year’s worth of offseason training, the strength factor, the playing factor, being comfortable in the system for an entire offseason and training camp we are really counting on those guys to step up.”


  • The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia says the Browns sending a third-round pick to the Vikings for S Anthony Harris makes sense for all parties. Cleveland gets a Pro Bowl safety to fill a need and has both the cap space and extra third-round pick to make it happen. 
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings can better allocate the cap space they have tied up in Harris now by trading him rather than signing the 29-year-old to an extension, as that’s the only way to lower his cap hit while on the tag. Adding an extra third-round pick is also a solid return. 
  •’s Mary Kay Cabot is confident the Browns will stand pat at No. 10 in the first round and take the best offensive tackle available. 
  • Cabot believes the Browns will keep DE Olivier Vernon on the roster unless they land DE Jadeveon Clowney
  • Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger says the Bills, Browns and Panthers have shown the most interest in him during the pre-draft process. (Jonathan Jones)
  • Auburn DL Marlon Davidson had a pre-draft meeting with the Browns over video conference. (Justin Melo)


  • Per Jonas Schaffer of the Baltimore Sun, Ravens HC John Harbaugh said replacing retired G Marshal Yanda will be one of the team’s more difficult tasks this offseason, as aside from being a great player himself, Yanda was what Harbaugh called a “force multiplier” who helped others around him: “The thinking is, it’s really hard. He’s irreplaceable.”
  • Ravens GM Eric DeCosta didn’t say much about free-agent WR Antonio Brown working out with QB Lamar Jackson: “Those are in-house things. I don’t really feel the need to share that right now.” (Jamison Hensley)
  • The Ravens think they’ll be able to find inside linebackers that can help later in the draft even if they’re not three-down players. (Jeff Zrebiec)


Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger initially planned to be on the field and participating when the Steelers opened their OTAs in April. While the level of activity had still yet to be decided given Roethlisberger was coming off a season-ending elbow injury in 2019, the cancellation of offseason practices allows the veteran more time to rehab with the new focus on training camp.  

“Now that we don’t have those, we took a step back and backed up a week,” Roethlisberger said via the Athletic’s Ed Bouchette. “We said let’s just make sure and slow it down some more and take it even a step slower. It’s going really, really well, though. The doctor is very ultra-conservative moving forward. We’re just trying to be smart, and putting the brakes on me a lot because I was kind of ‘Go, go go.’ You know me, trying to get back out there.”

Roethlisberger also talked about how excited he was about the Steelers’ addition of TE Eric Ebron. Roethlisberger has had his eyes on Ebron since he was a rookie coming out of North Carolina and now is thrilled about having another quality receiving threat to throw to. 

“I was a big fan of his coming out,” Roethlisberger said. “I was really impressed with him, thought he was a great football player. Ebron said to me, ‘When I was with (former Steelers WR) Lance Moore in Detroit, he told me how much you wanted me when I was coming out or a free agent. I just wanted to thank you.’ Now that he’s here, I’m excited to see what he can bring to this team. We know he’s an incredible talent. Speaking to him, I can see his desire, and his passion to be great. I’m excited what he can bring to the table opposite Vance.”

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