AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Colts



After taking QB Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, the Bengals turned their attention this offseason to building as much support around Burrow as possible to help him have success as a rookie. That included tailoring the offense to Burrow’s skillset, taking plays from the incendiary LSU offense he ran last year and other influences from West Coast offenses like the Saints around the league. 

“We kind of studied trends and numerous teams that are doing good things on offense,” Bengals OC Brian Callahan said via Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. “Third down and red zone. See what teams are doing. See what they’re doing well and why and if you can incorporate them, you do that. I think we’ve done a good job studying around the league that can help us. We studied a lot of things from LSU. Obviously if the quarterback is comfortable, everyone is comfortable.”

Callahan acknowledged Burrow had input onto what plays were put in, and once the team actually has a chance to practice those plays, he’ll also be able to veto plays that aren’t working as well in reality as in theory. 

“The hard part for Joe is he doesn’t have the physical reps, so he doesn’t really know,” Callahan said. “If something is new to him, he may not know how he feels about it because he hasn’t repped it yet against certain looks. He may come back and say, ‘I’m not high on this play.’ OK, neither are we.”


  • Mary Kay Cabot of says that despite his request for a trade, the Browns are still determined to keep TE David Njoku on their roster for the 2020 season.
  • Cabot refutes earlier reports that the Browns had a conversation with QB Cam Newton prior to him signing with the Patriots due to their commitment to current QB Baker Mayfield.
  • According to Cabot, if the Browns were to eventually sign free agent edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney they would most likely seriously consider releasing DE Olivier Vernon
  • With the trade request of Njoku, Cabot mentions that Browns GM Andrew Berry doesn’t want to trade Njoku and won’t just give him away unless someone makes an offer he can’t refuse.
  • Cabot adds that Berry would likely consider a first-round pick for Njoku, who was the No. 29 pick in 2017, but likely will not get it. 
  • While Cabot says she doesn’t sense Clowney is interested in the Browns, it is still a possibility he could sign with them by his preferred time at the start of training camp.
  • As for DE Everson Griffen, Cabot says that due to his previous relationship with HC Kevin Stefanski that he most likely would have signed with the Browns by now.
  • On a final note, Cabot says that there was no interest between the Browns and free-agent LB Clay Matthews, whose father formerly starred for the franchise.
  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Browns have known for around a year that Njoku was unhappy in Cleveland and would welcome a trade.
  • Fowler reports that teams around the league are predicting that Njoku could possibly be worth a fourth or fifth-round pick.


Colts GM Chris Ballard says S Khari Willis is “legitimate” after a strong rookie season.

“He’s legitimate,” Ballard said of Willis, via “And he’s made of all the right stuff: works, tough, plays through injury. And he’s going to be a legitimate safety in this league, and for us.”

  • Ballard has said they’re targeting October as a potential return date for third-round DB Julian Blackmon. Andrew Walker writes that Blackmon’s versatility should allow him to be involved in multiple defensive packages.

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