AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers



  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. has been impressed with Bengals WRs Auden Tate and Alex Erickson and doesn’t see how both don’t make the team. 
  • Bengals 2019 second-round TE Drew Sample has also been noticeably improved after losing so much of his rookie season to an injury. 
  • Dehner adds CB Darius Phillips has stepped up in the absence of CB Trae Waynes and continues to make plays on the ball. 
  • At running back, Dehner says Jacques Patrick showed off terrific physicality and footwork during the scrimmage and should at least land on the practice squad. Meanwhile, Trayveon Williams had two ugly drops. 
  • Dehner mentions Bengals QB Jake Dolegala has not been good and is fighting to stay on the practice squad at this point.  


  • Scott Petrak of says rookie LT Jedrick Wills looks “like a talented rookie trying to transition from a life spent playing right tackle.”
  • Petrak says that while LB B.J. Goodson has stood out in camp so far, GM Andrew Berry will likely continue to attempt to fill the void following the injury to LB Mack Wilson and adds that LB Nigel Bradham could be a name to watch following his release from the Saints.
  • As for receivers making the team, Petrak names KhaDarel Hodge, Jojo Natson and sixth-round rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones.
  • The Browns worked out C Ryan Crozier, C Christian Montano, C Jon Toth and C Nate Trewyn. (Mike Jones)


Part of the ramifications of the pandemic on the NFL that will last beyond this season is an expected drop in the salary cap to $175 million at best, nearly $25 million lower than this past year’s number. For executives like Steelers GM Kevin Colbert who need to sort out how to keep a number of star players with expiring deals, that means a lot of work over the next several months. 

“This year, obviously, is going to be a huge challenge for everybody,” Colbert said via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “How do we best make ourselves profitable? Nobody knows. We don’t know what rules we’ll be working under as the fall unfolds. It’s out of my realm. We have to understand there are issues, and we have to react accordingly.”

  • One of those players is longtime Steelers DE Cameron Heyward, who is unlikely to sign an extension before the start of the season according to the Athletic’s Ed Bouchette
  • Other Pittsburgh free agents include OLB Bud Dupree, RB James Conner, LT Alejandro Villanueva, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, OL Matt Feiler, CB Mike Hilton, OT Zach Banner and CB Cam Sutton.
  • Colbert indicated the team likely wouldn’t be changing its policy of no in-season negotiations: “We haven’t talked about amending our policy. That’s an organizational policy that’s been in place for a lot of years. I don’t anticipate that changing. We’ll continue to look at situations and if one makes sense, we’ll do it.” (Brooke Pryor)
  • Steelers tried out WR DeAndre Thompkins. (Albert Breer)
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