AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

Bengals

Jay Morrison of The Athletic takes a look at eight of the Bengals’ “under-the-radar” players who could have opportunities to start in 2021. 

  • Morrison could see WR Auden Tate having a “breakout season” given that he’s entering the final year of his contract and developed “early trust” with QB Joe Burrow prior to both players sustaining season-ending injuries one week apart. 
  • As for 2019 fourth-round DT Renell Wren, Morrison writes that he offers both “talent and youth” to their defensive line if he’s able to stay healthy. Wren notably finished his rookie year with a season-ending hip injury, and then sustained a season-ending calf injury in last year’s training camp. 
  • Morrison adds that OT Isaiah Prince could be “in the mix” for a role at swing tackle after opting out of last season. He’s expected to compete with OTs Fred Johnson and Hakeem Adeniji for playing time. 
  • Morrison thinks second-year LB Akeem Davis-Gaither will be able to make more plays with an improved defensive line around him and added year of experience. 

Browns

Browns HC Kevin Stefanski believes that they can keep receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on their roster despite counting for $15.75 million and $14.75 million against the cap respectively. 

I think we can, yeah,” Stefanski said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “I think you don’t want to be so dogmatic about it and say, ‘All right. We have to have this number of receivers and this number of tight ends and this running back.’ I think you go with what you have and you make sure that you’re putting yourself in position to field a competitive roster for a bunch of years moving forward.”

Stefanski reiterated that they are in a “good spot” to keep both Beckham and Landry and that the Browns “have a plan” this offseason. 

So, yeah, I think we’re in a good spot. The easy part to say is, ‘Hey, just give us more players. Give us three more great players on the offensive side, and give us three players on the defensive side, and we’re going to spend this amount on each guy.’ I think we have a plan. We’ll follow through with that plan.”

Stefanski said Beckham is “doing great” with his rehab from a torn ACL and he is working hard to return. 

“He’s doing great,” Stefanski said. “He’s working really hard. He attacks rehab like I’ve never seen people do it. Last year, he was rehabbing from a core muscle injury, so this is a totally different injury, but just to see the way he went about it, he exhausts every avenue to get his body right.”

  • Mary Kay Cabot believes the Browns would likely listen to trade offers for Beckham this offseason. However, the market for his services is not expected to be substantial because of cap constraints and his knee injury.
  • If the Browns do want to rid themselves of Beckham’s contract, Cabot writes that they would have to trade him. $12.791 million of Beckham’s salary is guaranteed for injury, so Cabot does not believe releasing him is a realistic option. 
  • According to Cabot, the Browns will offer WR Rashard Higgins a new contract once the cap is set. But if the soon-to-be free agent receives an above-market value offer elsewhere, it’s unlikely that Cleveland will be able to re-sign him. 

Steelers

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