AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers

     

Bengals

Trade rumors surrounding the Bengals, the No. 1 overall pick and the presumptive favorite for the pick, LSU QB Joe Burrow, have been rampant this draft season. Some of it is due to a persistent belief the Dolphins like Burrow and would be willing to part with a chunk of their monstrous draft war chest to trade up to get him. However, Bengals HC Zac Taylor seemed to kill the notion that Cincinnati would even listen to offers. 

“It doesn’t look that way,” Taylor said on the “Dan Patrick Show” via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “If there is a guy there that you believe in that can really change the franchise over the next 10-15 years, then that’s a hard thing to pass up on. You know, people all the time ask me what would it take to give up that pick and if there’s somebody there that people are willing to give up a lot for, that they believe in, then that just really verifies what we think about those players as well.”

Cincinnati has maxed out its interview time with Burrow and seems to be bought in on the idea that he can be the Bengals’ next franchise quarterback. Taylor cited Burrow’s confidence as one of his standout qualities, which he’ll need trying to turn around the NFL’s worst team in 2019. 

“He’s got a great edge to him, I think that’s the best way to put it,” Taylor said. “You know, you can talk about confidence and all that stuff to quarterbacks, but he’s one of those guys that put in the work, so he’s got the confidence in his abilities because there’s not a lot of unknown out there for him. We’ve gotten to know him. We’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys during this conversation over the last couple of weeks. We really maxed out that time talking to him. We feel comfortable with all those guys there at the top.”

While the Bengals presumably have a better base with Burrow than they do other players, the lack of an on-field offseason program will be a challenge for all teams and rookies this year. 

“You might have a really good first year,” Burrow said via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “You might have a really bad first year. You don’t really know, especially without OTAs this year. You’re going to have less time with your team. So there’s going to be ups and downs, for sure. You’re just going to have to battle through it.”

  • The Athletic’s Jay Morrison writes the wildcard in the Bengals’ need for linebacker help is S Shawn Williams, who moves to the team’s third safety after the signing of Vonn Bell and tends to play more of a nickel linebacker role anyway. 
  • Morrison predicts the Bengals use their third-round pick on Oregon LB Troy Dye given their trend of addressing the position in that round.
  • Other names to keep an eye on are Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray and LSU LB Patrick Queen if either last to the second round, or Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither who the Bengals coached at the Senior Bowl. 

Browns

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com notes that during a conference call on Monday, newly signed Browns S Karl Joseph spoke about signing with the team despite not having a physical. Joseph recently had surgery to repair a broken right foot.

“We will handle the physical later,’’ Joseph said on the conference call. “My agent and the Browns were able to work something out to where we were able to finalize the contract, which I’m excited about.”

Joseph was ranked the No. 38 safety in the NFL by ProFootballFocus and was having a great season prior to his foot injury. He’s confident the physical on his foot is just a formality.

“I don’t think it will be an issue,’’ he said. “I’m 100 percent positive that I’ll be fine with the physical. I will pass it.”

He also isn’t worried about his deal falling through, as a few players have this offseason due to the limitations on physicals.

“I knew that I was committed to the Browns and I was pretty sure that they were committed to me, as well,’’ he said. “Once I committed verbally, I knew that is where I wanted to be.’’

Ravens

  • Per the Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens RB Mark Ingram isn’t worried about Baltimore drafting another running back, saying pretty much every year he’s played his team has drafted another guy: “You can’t be scared of competition. It breeds excellence. Whatever we do, I’m sure it will be good.”

Steelers

  • The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly writes there’s been no indication from the Steelers on whether they are interested in extending WR JuJu Smith-Schuster before the start of the season. The Steelers don’t usually negotiate extensions in season and 2020 is the final year of Smith-Schuster’s rookie contract. 
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