AFC Notes: Bengals, Baker Mayfield, Browns, Ravens, Steelers


  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, sources are pessimistic that the Bengals and S Jessie Bates will get a deal done before the season. 
  • Fowler notes with the way the safety market has moved, the conversation on a new deal for Bates starts at $14-$15 million a year, which the Bengals aren’t apparently willing to do. The franchise tag next year could be around $14 million. 
  • Regarding Bengals QB Joe Burrow playing a limited session in Sunday’s preseason game, HC Zac Taylor believes its best for Burrow to get some reps: “I think that’s what’s best for the team. I think that’s what’s best for all of us, so we’re going to do it.” (Ben Baby)
  • Taylor said C Trey Hopkins will also play in Sunday’s game.  (Kelsey Conway)
  • Taylor mentions that the Bengals starting guards for Sunday’s game will be Quinton Spain and Xavier Su’a-Filo. (Ben Baby)
  • Baby believes Spain and Su’a-Filo are trending towards being the Week 1 starters. 


  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, there’s a strong chance Browns QB Baker Mayfield enters the season without a contract extension. 
  • He adds the Browns are still optimistic about Mayfield’s future as a franchise quarterback but are working on navigating the burgeoning quarterback market. 
  • Fowler thinks the starting point has to be halfway between Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and Bills QB Josh Allen, which is about $39 million a year. That’s territory occupied currently by Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott ($40 million per year). 
  • If the Browns aren’t willing to go there yet, Mayfield could play out the 2021 season, and if he plays well and the team has a lot of success, he could be in an outstanding position in 2022. 
  • Fowler also mentions the Browns are still discussing a new deal for CB Denzel Ward but it’s considered a long shot right now that that one gets done. 
  • Browns first-round CB Greg Newsome II said he wants to build trust with the coaching staff by proving he can learn from his mistakes: “Biggest thing is earning trust. If you show you’ll do what you’re told and not make the same mistake twice, the coaches will trust you to put you on the field.” (Scott Petrak)


  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says the word in league circles is that Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has been more focused on preparing for the season than contract negotiations, as he represents himself. Fowler adds the Ravens are ready to get this deal done relatively soon. 
  • As for what the number will look like, Fowler points out that with an MVP award under his belt, Jackson has a strong argument to surpass Bills QB Josh Allen‘s $43 million per year. 
  • Fowler expects the Ravens to get a deal done with Jackson first before moving on to TE Mark Andrews. That could be done at some point midseason, per Fowler. 
  • Ravens OC Greg Roman said OL Ben Powers is taking advantage “of the opportunity bestowed upon him” at left guard with Ben Cleveland (concussion) and Tyre Phillips (ankle) out. (Jamison Hensley)
  • Regarding Jackson as a passer, Roman said the quarterback has improved his mechanics over the summer and the result is tighter spirals: “Is the ball spinning tighter? I think it is. I think you see some real empirical evidence that the work is paying off.” (Jamison Hensley)


Steelers CB Joe Haden reiterated he would love to sign an extension to be able to finish his career in Pittsburgh. 

“I obviously want to stay here,” Haden said via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Just the organization, the staff, ‘Coach T.’ I don’t have too much more on it, but I know where I want to be. … My tape speaks for myself. I feel like the best thing I can do while I’m out here in training camp is still covering these dudes, still feeling like I’m running and moving the same as I have been the last couple years.”

  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says Steelers OLB T.J. Watt is expected to sign a deal that makes him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. 
  • The biggest holdup is just the Steelers figuring out how to reconcile an old-school contract structure preference with getting Watt the type of massive payout he’s seeking in guarantees in the first three years of the deal. 
  • Steelers HC Mike Tomlin said QB Dwayne Haskins will start Friday’s preseason finale against the Panthers. (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Tomlin mentioned that Steelers QB Mason Rudolph will not play on Friday, which is a probable indicator he’s won the competition as the No. 2 quarterback. (Ray Fittipaldo)

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