Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said the team’s focus during this free agency cycle will be retaining the team they already have within the building versus bringing in a host of new players.
“Roster building is cyclical. We’re heading into a phase of our roster building that is going to be more focused internally than externally,” Tobin said, via the team’s website. “It doesn’t mean we won’t be looking for opportunities externally, but we won’t be trying to build our team from the external UFAs. We’re going to be trying to maintain our team with the guys who have proven they belong and can effectively win for the Cincinnati Bengals. While we always look at free agency, it might be a little different mindset.”
Bengals HC Zac Taylor echoed Tobin’s sentiment, adding the team has its core intact and will do everything it can to keep it in place.
“We have that big nucleus of what our team has been about, and that’s just what we’ve got to navigate now,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a lot of great players that are deserving of money – young and old – and we’ll sort through how all that works out.”
Tobin said the team won’t eliminate the possibility of bringing back safeties Jessie Bates or Vonn Bell.
“We aren’t going to freeze out options with any of them,” Tobin said. “It will be dependent on other deals we are able to get done as the offseason goes on and what the market is for those guys. Can everybody fit in at the top value that they want? No. Maybe some guys don’t get that value and want to come back, we’ll see. You just can’t predict that right now.”
Tobin added that expectations in the building are high heading into 2023 and the team feels like it can win a championship with this roster.
“We’re a good enough team to win it all. You have to have the break at the right point. And we didn’t get those, not against Kansas City this year. But we feel confident we can get back,” Tobin said. “We felt this team really came together, probably a little better team overall than the team last year because we were a little more mature in our processes and some of our players had a little more experience in big game situations. And we’ve got guys with big game experience coming back next year. So our expectations are super high.”
- NBC Sports’ Peter King mentioned he didn’t hear a lot of rumbling at the Combine about teams preparing to make a run at Ravens QB Lamar Jackson if the Ravens decided to trade him.
- The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec also didn’t hear a lot about a potential market for Jackson, though he finds it hard to believe one wouldn’t develop for a quarterback of his caliber.
- Zrebiec lists several players the Ravens will have to consider cutting to make room for Jackson’s tag, including DL Calais Campbell, RB Gus Edwards, DT Michael Pierce, WR Devin Duvernay and S Chuck Clark. He also is doubtful they’ll be able to re-sign G Ben Powers.
- Zrebiec mentions Notre Dame WR coach Chansi Stuckey and safeties coach Chris O’Leary are candidates for the same or similar positions on the Ravens’ staff.
USC WR Jordan Addison is excited about the idea of being reunited with former Pittsburgh teammate QB Kenny Pickett if he were to be drafted by the Steelers.
“Hey man, if we reunite, that’d be good,” Addison said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “That’d be real cool. Real easy transition. Come get me.”
“That’ll help the transition a lot,” Addison added. “Just having your former quarterback, you already got a relationship, No. 1, and then that trust factor. So with him, once you’re running your routes, he’s trusting you to be at a certain spot at the right time. It shows up in the timing and big plays when the pressure’s on. Third down, you really can see that chemistry show up.”
“We talked about playing in the NFL together while we were at Pitt,” Pickett said. “That’s like the college teammates’ dream, especially for a quarterback and receiver, that kind of dynamic, especially given how well we played together.”
Steelers GM Omar Khan was asked about the idea of drafting Addison in order to pair him with Pickett.
“I think you’re always looking at things like that, but given the offseason that you have and the time guys spend together, I think the transition of new receivers trying to get acclimated to quarterbacks is not a hard process,” Khan said Tuesday. “… But Jordan Addison, he’s a really good football player.”
- Addison had a formal interview with the Steelers at the Combine. (Nick Farabaugh)
- Pittsburgh also did a formal interview with Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, whose brother currently plays baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Farabaugh)
- Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski had a formal Combine interview with Pittsburgh. (Farabaugh)
- The Steelers were heavy on defensive back meetings at the Combine, holding interviews with Maryland CB Deonte Banks, Kansas State CB Julius Brents, South Carolina CB Cam Smith, Georgia CB Kelee Ringo, Alabama S Brian Branch, and Alabama CB Eli Ricks. (Farabaugh)
- Penn State WR Parker Washington had a formal Combine interview with the Steelers. (Tom Downey)
- Iowa TE Sam LaPorta had a formal Combine interview with a bunch of teams, including the Steelers. (Tom Downey)
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