AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers


  • New Bengals’ DE Trey Hendrickson on signing with Cincinnati during free agency: “I feel like the stars just aligned…I can’t wait to work hard for this new organization and make this contract worth every penny.” (Tyler Dragon)
  • Bengals G Quinton Spain‘s one-year, $1.127 million deal includes a $137,500 signing bonus and a $990,000 base salary. (Aaron Wilson)
  • Bengals P Kevin Huber‘s one-year, $1.637 million deal includes a $137,500 signing bonus and a $1.5 million base salary. (Aaron Wilson)


Browns GM Andrew Berry called recently signed S Josh Johnson III one of the “more versatile safeties in the NFL” given his ability to line up at free safety, strong safety, nickel back, or in the dime. 

“We thought [Johnson] was one of the more versatile safeties in the NFL,” Berry said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He can play free safety, strong safety and he can play in the box in the nickel or dime. His breadth of skills that he brings to the table, that he can play man coverage, he can play center field, he can support the run and really do everything at a pretty high level. It’s perfect for what we want to be as a defense.”

Berry also praised Johnson’s “intelligence and his natural leadership” as another factor into why the Browns signed him. 

“On top of that, you have his intelligence and his natural leadership. That’s something we’ll always look to add to the mix, and we feel like we’re fortunate that he was available.”

Berry felt the Browns’ cap flexibility this offseason enabled them to pursue Johnson for their defense. 

“The general mindset entering free agency any year is to try to be opportunistic and address improving all areas of the roster,” Berry said. “I think we were in a position where we had enough flexibility from a cap perspective where if we felt there was a player who aligned with our needs, if their skillset matched what we want to do within our scheme and they fit the profile of smart, tough, accountable, young, durable, then we can go aggressively and attack that player.”

As for the addition of new Browns DE Takkarist McKinley, Berry praised McKinley’s power and quickness on the line and feels he has a “ton of upside” despite dealing with recent injuries. 

We view Takk as a young edge player with a very high motor,” Berry said. “He’s got speed, he has power and he has quickness. He really plays with his hair on fire. He had a really strong start to his career, and I know the past couple years he’s dealt with a few injuries, but we think his playing style and skillset marries really nicely with what we look for out of our defensive ends in this system, and he’s a guy we think really has a ton of upside and fits nicely with what we want to do on the defensive line.”

Berry also commented on the signing of new Browns CB Troy Hill, calling him a “versatile corner” capable of lining up on the outside and inside spots. 

“Troy is a versatile corner that has played inside and outside. He’s a smart football player who can play man coverage, zone coverage, turn the ball over and is a sound tackler. We all viewed him as a really big part of the defensive success in Los Angeles this past year, and for us, the ability to have a corner that can play at a high level on both the outside and inside gives us a lot of flexibility with who we currently have on the roster and who we may add moving forward,” said Berry, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

  • Browns WR JoJo Natson‘s one-year, $1.27 million deal includes a $990,000 base salary and can earn $137,500 in per-game active roster bonuses. (Aaron Wilson)


  • Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that he gets the feeling the Steelers may be clearing cap space for a big move, yet tells fans not to be disappointed if space is being cleared for the return of T Alejandro Villanueva.
  • According to Kaboly, the Steelers viewed Steven Nelson as expendable after signing CB Cameron Sutton, and that ridding themselves of Nelson did save $8.25 million in cap space.
  • Kaboly thinks the team chose to move on from Nelson instead of CB Joe Haden, who is four years older, due to the fact that Haden is a better player that can help them win now.
  • Kaboly is unsure how the 2021 season will play out but doesn’t see the Steelers’ offensive line being any worse than it was last season. He also likes Tar Heels’ RB Javonte Williams in the second round, as the running game needs drastic improvement.
  • With the future uncertain, Kaboly ponders on whether or not LB T.J. Watt could find his way out of Pittsburgh if the team decides to rebuild, yet doesn’t see the team using the franchise tag on him. He also adds that the team will likely sign him to the richest deal in franchise history in the coming months.

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