AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers


Bengals HC Zac Taylor said that LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase‘s history with Bengals QB Joe Burrow is one of many factors the team will consider.

“It’s one of the things that you weigh and certainly we take in a lot of factors — the production on the field, their character, their football IQ, just what they bring to our locker room and to our team as a whole,” Taylor said, via Pro Football Talk. “Relationship with the quarterback, that certainly doesn’t hurt. But that’s one of the many things that we weigh.”

  • A source explained to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline why they think the Bengals are leaning toward Chase: “You have to understand the mentality of the Bengals’ front office. They got a damn good receiver in Tee Higgins last year, and they must protect Burrow. But the way they see it is the team lost A.J. Green, and after what turned into a contentious relationship, the priority of many in the front office is to replace Green with another receiver and stick it to him.”
  • Taylor said he thinks the team can get a player at No. 5 who can come in and produce immediately. (Geoff Hobson)
  • Taylor specifically praised Chase: “It’s obvious why he put himself in a position to be a high pick.” (Ben Baby)
  • Taylor also complimented Oregon OT Penei Sewell: “Big, athletic, powerful. Can do a lot of things really well.” (Baby)


Browns DC Joe Woods believes their success last year helped contribute to their defensive additions this offseason.

Cleveland brought in S John Johnson III, DE Takkarist McKinley, CB Troy Hill, LB Anthony Walker, DT Malik Jackson and DE Jadeveon Clowney so far. 

“It’s definitely great for our whole organization and our whole team to get these players,” Woods said, via Anthony Poisal of the team’s official site. “It really says something about what we accomplished last year that guys are making a decision to join our team.”

Woods would like their defense to use the dime formation more often in 2021 and feels it could help create matchup problems. 

“You can see the impact that we could have,” Woods said. “It’s really about putting more speed on the field and creating matchups where you feel like you have an advantage.”

Woods points out that they could use S Ronnie Harrison, S Grant Delpit, and Johnson in “special” packages. 

“It could be series to series, game to game,” Woods said. “We can let those guys move around on their own. We can create a special package with them just because of their versatility.”

As for the Browns signing Clowney, Woods said they can move around Clowney and DE Myles Garrett to create one-on-one matchups. 

“The ability to move them around and create matchups that we want to create, get the one-on-ones — that’s definitely part of the plan,” Woods said. “We did a little of that last year, but we’ll definitely be able to do more of that, regardless of the guys that are inside or outside.”

  • Browns QB Baker Mayfield said he is thankful to the team for picking up his fifth-year option, and isn’t thinking about a long-term extension yet. (Scott Petrak)
  • Mayfield mentioned how “truly pretty special” it is for the Browns to be returning all 11 starters on offense (Nate Ulrich


One issue the Steelers may have to face in the draft this year is a potential trade with a division rival such as the Browns or Ravens. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says that he is doubtful the team will trade up, but scenarios do exist where Pittsburgh would like to trade back.

“Do we want to do it with a division team?” Colbert said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “That wouldn’t be our preference, but we won’t discount that completely because we have to weigh what the potential trade-back will do for us and not worry about where those picks may go. I’m very doubtful that we’ll trade up. We value those eight picks that we have, five of which are in the top 140. We’re always going to value quality over quantity, but if we’re not comfortable with what we’re looking at at the 24th pick, we’ll trade back. If we are looking to trade back five spots, I want to make sure there are five players we would feel comfortable in taking to get the player we want and maybe pick up some extra picks. It wouldn’t be our preference, but it won’t disqualify us from trading back with a division team,”

  • Kaboly thinks that CB Cam Sutton is the obvious reason why CB Steven Nelson was released and the team could have kept him had they wanted to. Colbert says it was a salary-related issue that forced them to cut Nelson: “We just couldn’t keep him under the current setup that we had or the current setup that we’re dealing with from a salary cap standpoint, and we had to make some tough choices,”
  • Kaboly points out that RT Zach Banner isn’t going to move to left tackle after spending all offseason at right tackle and winning the job over Chukwuma Okorafor before the season. This means that Okorafor is the starting left tackle at this point in time, according to Kaboly.
  • According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapaport, most teams believe the Steelers will take Alabama RB Najee Harris with pick No. 24.
  • But if he’s off the board, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline is hearing their backup plan could be Ohio State RB Trey Sermon in the second round. 

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