AFC Notes: Jessie Bates, Bengals, Deshaun Watson, Browns, Steelers

Bengals

  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says there’s been no tangible progress on a deal between the Bengals and S Jessie Bates. It’s unclear how close to the top of the market Cincinnati is willing to get. 
  • Fowler has also heard Bates doesn’t plan to play on the franchise tag and a source told him things would get “interesting” if the Bengals didn’t extend him by the July 15 deadline. 
  • Fowler writes that Bates has taken note of all the money the Bengals have handed out in free agency, yet have not yet extended him as a draft pick who’s developed into an excellent player. 
  • He also mentions the Bengals have not made any movement yet on potentially trading Bates. 

Browns

  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes the word is the Browns have a long-term deal on the table for TE David Njoku worth $13 million a year. However, it’s not clear how the guarantees or structure work, which could make that initially impressive APY a bit hollow. 
  • Fowler adds it would not be a surprise to see Njoku take this to the July 15 deadline for a long-term deal to try and get Cleveland to sweeten the pot a bit. If not, he could play out the 2022 season in the hopes of boosting his value even more. 
  • Regarding QB Baker Mayfield, Fowler says teams are basically waiting for the Browns to release him at this point. 
  • USA Today’s Josina Anderson notes the NFL may reference the two-year suspension of MLB player Trevor Bauer with Browns QB Deshaun Watson, with one NFL source telling her: “Look at what baseball did. If people don’t think that’s on people’s radar, then. Public opinion matters. You think the NFL wants to be the organization that says sexual misconduct against women means more to one league than the other? Think about it.”
  • Watson’s agent David Mulugheta remains steadfast in saying that Watson did not violate the league conduct policy: “We are fully confident that the facts will continue to show that Deshaun Watson did not violate any parts of the NFL’s Conduct Policy.” (Anderson)

Steelers

  • ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentions Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick is due for an extension, which based on historical precedent will probably come sometime between when players report for camp in July and when the season begins in September. 
  • Fowler adds Fitzpatrick has a case to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety, topping Seahawks S Jamal Adams‘ $17.5 million a year. 

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