AFC Notes: Bengals, Hue Jackson, Browns, Steelers


  • Bengals QB Joe Burrow on his ability to take contact from defenders: “It’s just part of football, and I’ve always loved that part of it. I wouldn’t feel like a football player if I didn’t.” (Aditi Kinkhabwala)
  • Burrow also commented on the pinky injury he’s been dealing with for over a month: “Pinky is still something I am dealing with. I’m going to be dealing with it for the rest of the season until I give it a break.” (Paul Dehner Jr.)
  • Burrow commended the franchise for keeping him in the loop during the draft process in 2021: “All we want is to have a line of communications in those processes.” (Ben Baby)


Former Browns HC Hue Jackson appeared on ESPN in order to clarify whether or not he was offered money in exchange for losses during his time in Cleveland.

“What I was approached by is understanding what the four-year plan was,” Jackson said, via Pro Football Talk. “And I think if we understood the mechanics of it, and how it was laid out, I never knew the plan would lead to those things and I didn’t understand it to be very honest. And then once I was in it, and understood everything that was on that plan and how it affected myself and how others were being paid from it, then it made sense to me that this is a team that can’t win, that the first two years, that’s why it doesn’t talk about winning.”

  • Jackson then said that he “wasn’t offered $100,000 for every game, but there was a substantial amount of money made within what happened in this situation every year at the end of it.”
  • He also revealed that he received a contract extension from team owner Jimmy Haslem, who told him he felt bad for what Jackson’s record would do to his reputation as an NFL coach.


  • The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette goes through the offseason checklist for the Steelers. On defense, he expects them to re-sign one of either CB Joe Haden or Ahkello Witherspoon to start at corner. Bouchette notes Witherspoon is younger.
  • That means Pittsburgh would return three of four starters in the secondary, as Bouchette believes S Terrell Edmunds will be allowed to walk. He adds S Minkah Fitzpatrick is due for an extension as he enters the final year of his deal on the fifth-year option. 
  • Getting back DL Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu should be a big help but Bouchette points out both are coming off of injuries which could make the position one to add insurance at. 
  • Bouchette thinks Steelers LB Devin Bush will be given another year as the starter to prove himself but Pittsburgh will need to add another starter this offseason. 
  • On the offense, Bouchette thinks 2021 fourth-round OT Dan Moore has done enough to get another season at left tackle, while 2021 third-round C Kendrick Green could be moved to guard. Pittsburgh has Kevin Dotson (guard), J.C. Hassenauer (center) and Zach Banner (right tackle) as options on the roster but Bouchette notes there’s plenty of room to upgrade there. 
  • Bouchette adds it’s time for the Steelers to address wide receiver again. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud are pending free agents, though McCloud and Smith-Schuster could be back. Diontae Johnson is also entering the final year of his deal and Bouchette refers to the organization’s long history of not giving receivers second contracts. 
  • And of course, there’s quarterback. Bouchette writes the Steelers could either sign a mid-range quarterback or draft someone to compete in a three-way battle with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins.
  • Smith-Schuster said he is probably going to hit free agency and praised Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: “He’s a great quarterback. Catching balls from him in a facility like this, I wouldn’t mind it. …The Steelers are still working on trying to get out of the wooden locker rooms.” (Michael Gehlken)
  • The Steelers reportedly have three outside candidates they are considering interviewing for general manager, including Ryan Cowden of the Titans and Ed Dodds of the Colts. (Dale Lolley)

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