AFC Notes: Joe Burrow, Bengals, Ravens, Steelers


The Bengals have a reputation as not necessarily a cheap franchise but definitely as an organization that operates differently from the other 32. They have the smallest scouting department in the league and owner Mike Brown, who inherited the team from his father, doesn’t have the liquid wealth of some of his other counterparts. However, that’s not expected to cause an issue when they extend QB Joe Burrow, who will likely sign one of the biggest deals in NFL history sometime in the relatively near future. 

“He has to do this,” one GM said to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. “I think he gets it done. This didn’t sneak up on him. He sold the [stadium] naming rights. I have to hink he’s been putting away $40 million, $50 million a year for a few years now, knowing he’ll have to cut a huge check. Nobody talks about it, but he has one of the best leases in the league. It’s going to be a record-setting contract, but I think he’s prepared to do what he has to do.”

  • The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. writes that Cincinnati has never had issues paying quarterbacks in the past. The biggest question is what the structure and total number will be. 
  • He explains if Burrow is willing to take less per year, it could make room to re-sign other players. If he’s willing to sign a 10-year deal like Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, that would also give Cincinnati more flexibility. The percentage of the deal that’s guaranteed will also be a major variable, as it has been for the Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson.


  • ESPN’s Jamison Hensley writes the most likely outcome between the Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson this offseason is the franchise tag. Then the question becomes which tag the Ravens use, when will Jackson report to the team and whether or not the Ravens will listen to trade offers. 
  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says Ravens scouts seemed attached to the hip of Boston College WR Zay Flowers on the only day he practiced at the Shrine Bowl.


Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth spoke to QB Ben Roethlisberger on his podcast, mentioning OC Matt Canada did not install the same flexibility to make adjustments with first-round QB Kenny Pickett during the rookie’s first season.

“It’s so different because we didn’t have hots,” Freiermuth said, via “With you, how many times did we have a concept, and you looked (at Diontae Johnson) and gave a signal, and it’d be a 12-yard completion? We didn’t have that this year. So instead of looking at you the whole time, we were looking at coverage — like, I know what I’m supposed to do. It was almost too slow at first because you weren’t anticipating it. With you, we could see cover zero and you would give us a Ram (read away from Mike linebacker) route. So that was probably the most difference between the two.”

However, Freiermuth added Pickett made strides as the season progressed and they’re completely behind him for 2023. 

“He was just so much more confident and so much more urgent and knew what he was gonna do,” Freiermuth said. “So it took him a little bit to get going, but he showed that he’s the real deal.”

  • ESPN’s Brooke Pryor identifies Steelers CB Cameron Sutton as the top pending free agent for Pittsburgh to re-sign given the state of things in their secondary. However, she notes he’ll probably cost more than the two-year, $9 million deal he signed in 2021. 

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