AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

Bengals

The top priority for the Bengals this offseason was fixing the offensive line and they added what should be three new starters, signing G Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras, and RT La’el Collins

“I loved adding the linemen just to get a new mentality there, maybe some tougher guys in there,” an exec said via the Athletic’s Mike Sando. “Maybe instead of having seven that can play, you walk into the season with eight or nine, so at least your depth is better. Maybe you draft a guy this year too.”

However, the devil’s advocate opinion is that Cincinnati may have upgraded, but still might not have an above-league average line. 

“They will be good because they are pretty good on defense and have good weapons on offense, but I don’t know if the O-line is that much better,” another exec said. “Karras, who is kind of a journeyman. Alex Cappa is OK. La’el Collins will help them. I think they are better, but it’s marginally better.”

  • According to Justin Melo, the Bengals, Browns, and Packers have all met with Northern Iowa WR Isaiah Weston.

Browns

The fully-guaranteed deal the Browns gave QB Deshaun Watson is a step closer to NBA-style contracts that NFL players have envied for a while. It’s also a step closer to the dynamic between NBA players and coaches, at least in Cleveland for HC Kevin Stefanski.

“People talk about the contract precedent and what that does to the NFL, but that leaves out the simple reality that this guy (Watson) doesn’t need to listen to anybody,” an exec said via the Athletic’s Mike Sando. “If he wants Kevin Stefanski fired, doesn’t like the offense, whatever it is, Cleveland is stuck.”

Obviously, there are questions surrounding Watson off the field, but in terms of talent, he was one of the league’s brightest young stars the last time he was on the field. Still, some in league circles questioned the scheme fit between Watson and Stefanski. 

“What Deshaun does best is playmaking, off-schedule, throwing deep, all that, which does not strike me as the Stefanski system,” an exec said. “It may all work out, but he is not the person to give that deal and that power too. You might do that with Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, and even then you wouldn’t like it. I just don’t understand. It just reeks of desperation.”

Steelers

The Steelers might not be done at quarterback this offseason, but their move to sign QB Mitchell Trubisky as a potential starter in 2022 was greeted with skepticism by a number of teams. 

“I don’t see it,” an exec said via the Athletic’s Mike Sando. “If everyone is saying Trubisky took a step back and got some better coaching and is in a better environment, what makes us think Pittsburgh has the coaching environment to bring out the best in Trubisky now that he has a fresh start? Because last I checked, Brian Daboll is the coach of the Giants, not the Steelers.”

  • According to Ryan Fowler, Stanford DT Thomas Booker has met with several teams including the 49ers, Chargers, Colts, Commanders, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, and Titans.

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