AFC Notes: Odell Beckham, Nick Chubb, Bengals, Browns, Ravens


A big question for the Bengals going forward is how much of their team they can afford to keep together with so many key players due for new extensions. It seemed like this past season might have been the final one with the duo of LBs Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson as Pratt was due for free agency. Instead, both he and Wilson have inked long-term deals this offseason, which has DC Lou Anarumo smiling. 

“I feel like we have one of the best tandems at linebacker in the league,” Anarumo said via the Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “I like having our guys and they’re our guys and they play well and, yeah, we’re going to use multiple packages and things like that on third down, but you’ve got to get to third down. And in our division, if you don’t have big strong guys, the way teams run the ball in our division, you’re not going to be that good.”

  • Assuming the Bengals work out extensions with QB Joe Burrow and WR Tee Higgins as is widely expected, Dehner points out the downstream effect will be on veteran players like WR Tyler Boyd, DT D.J. Reader, CB Chidobe Awuzie and CB Mike Hilton
  • All of those players will be free agents in 2024 except Hilton, who will be a cap casualty candidate due to the minimal dead cap on his deal, and all will be “third contract players” which Dehner notes Cincinnati has historically been willing to let walk. The exception was DE Trey Hendrickson, who added a year to his contract and got a raise earlier in training camp. 
  • Dehner says that could provide a model for some of those players to stay with the team but it’s quite possible all four are elsewhere in 2024. 


There is speculation in Cleveland that Browns RB Nick Chubb could see his role expand to being a third-down back as well now that RB Kareem Hunt doesn’t appear to be returning for the 2023 season. Browns RB coach Stump Mitchell and HC Kevin Stefanski both commented on the ongoing changes.

“He’s got more work in training camp at that role because we don’t have Kareem,” Mitchell said, via Scott Petrak of “So now Nick is in there on third down, as well.”

“He’s had an opportunity to run more of those routes. Even though he did it during training camp the past three or four years, he was not that guy unless he had to be,” Mitchell continued. “But now he’s going to be the first-, second, and third-down guy. When he’s tired or when Coach wants to substitute Jerome in, Jerome would go in as that one-, two-, three-down back. He was always good at it (catching the ball), but he never got the opportunity. I think Nick may have dropped last year one ball, but he’s good in everything that he does and he always tries to work on all the traits that he does well if he’s slacking in one, he tried to work to improve in that, as well. We’re still running the same plays for the most part. And the backs can adjust to whatever position they’re in. Sometimes he’s not as patient in the gun as he is from (under center) or from the home position, but that’s something we’re working on. Sometimes these guys are impatient, they start cutting before they should and they don’t allow any interior linemen or the tight ends to be able to get on their block. So we’ve been working constantly on pressing our run tracks.”

Stefanski wasn’t as definitive about Chubb’s role but he echoed a lot of what Mitchell said. 

“Nick certainly can do it all. He’s shown that over the course of his career,” Stefanski said. “He’s been out there on third down for us. We’ll work through that. It could be Nick out there, it could be Jerome, it could be a variety of different guys. But it’s really dependent on the game plan. Now, having said that you’re always comfortable with Nick. He knows who to block, how to block ’em, what routes to run, he can catch. So he’s certainly somebody we can use.”

  • Browns OL coach Bill Callahan indicated fourth-round OT Dawand Jones will likely be the top backup with the team not adding a veteran swing tackle: “When you draft them in the fourth round, they’re going to play, whether you like it or not. If they get drafted they’re gonna play.” (Tony Grossi)
  • Browns DEs Isaiah Thomas and Alex Wright will be out for an extended period with knee injuries. (Mary Kay Cabot)


Fair or not, Ravens WR Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t been viewed as a mentor in any of his previous career stops before landing in Baltimore this offseason. Perhaps turning 30 has given Beckham perspective, but one of the major first impressions of his impact so far with the Ravens has been the impact he’s had on the other younger wideouts on the roster. 

“In my career, even when I was the young guy, I was always looked [at] as an older guy because of what I accomplished early in my career,” Beckham said via NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I feel that part of the reason why I was brought here was to be that person for those younger guys. Try to show them the good and bad, because, as you know, I’ve already been through a lot of the bad. I believe I have the blueprint for what to do and what not to do, and I just try and share that with them.

“I think my biggest thing now is the way that I listen. I’ll sit there and just listen. Hear them out. When I was younger, even if I respected a person, if someone’s talking and talking and telling me information, I think it’s hard to lead that way. Everybody’s story’s different. You have to understand a person, really understand them, before you tell them how to do something, I think. It’s kinda cool. I actually love the role.”

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