AFC Notes: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


  • NFL Media’s Charley Casserly writes Bengals second-round WR Tee Higgins is expected to compete for a starting job and should get a fair amount of playing time in three-receiver sets regardless. 
  • Casserly adds Bengals No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is of course expected to start at quarterback. 
  • The Bengals’ most prominent position battles will be at right tackle and linebacker, per Casserly. Bobby Hart and Fred Johnson will duke it out at tackle, while 2019 third-rounder Germaine Pratt, veteran addition Josh Bynes and rookies Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey will fight to establish a pecking order at linebacker. 


  • Joel Corry of CBS Sports says the floor for a long-term deal with EDGE Matt Judon is probably the same as the deal former Ravens EDGE Za’Darius Smith got from the Packers in free agency last year, which was a four-year deal averaging $16.5 million per year.  
  • The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec says there have been no outward indications of progress in extension talks between the Raiders and Judon.
  • Zrebiec notes the Ravens are well-positioned to absorb any drop in the cap in 2021. 
  • With the pandemic, Zrebiec wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens keep a third quarterback on the active roster, which bodes well for QB Trace McSorley.
  • McSorley’s looking to get on the field in any capacity this year after being active for just one game as a rookie: “I want to show coaches that I can help the team on the field this year. Last year, being inactive all year — this season, I want to be able to get on the field somehow and help the team, help the team win. That’s the biggest thing.” (Aaron Kasinitz
  • NFL Media’s Charley Casserly writes the Ravens expect first and third-round LBs Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison to secure starting jobs as rookies, with second-round RB J.K. Dobbins also expected to be an impact player as a rookie. 
  • The biggest position battle for the Ravens is at right guard, with D.J. Fluker, 2019 fourth-round pick Ben Powers, OL Andre Smith and third-round OL Tyre Phillips the contenders. 


Steelers FB Derek Watt jumped at the opportunity this offseason to play with his brother, EDGE T.J. Watt, in Pittsburgh. But during the process, his agents actually downplayed how interested Pittsburgh was in order to help him make a level-headed decision. 

“My agents had been keeping track, keeping in touch and saying ‘oh we’ve got some teams interested.’ They had a couple listed out that I was aware of that seemed to be extremely interested,” Watt said in on SiriusXM NFL Radio via Pro Football Talk. “And all along they kind of mentioned it was kind of on the back-burner ‘oh the Steelers, they’ve been talking a little bit. They seem interested but you never know.’ It turns out they were trying to… all along the Steelers were one of the top teams that were trying to come after me. They just didn’t want to get my hopes up because they knew how exciting and special an opportunity it would be to play with T.J. here.”

“So they kind of downplayed it the whole time and come the day I made my decision and had the opportunity to sign with the Steelers, they presented me with the offer without a team name at the top,” Watt continued. “So I still at this point had no clue which team it was. And all of a sudden it gets to the end and they tell me ‘how would you like to be a Pittsburgh Steeler?’ And I was like, right there, a big smile came over my face.”

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