AFC North Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Browns

Though they were up against the salary cap, the Steelers should have explored signing a free agent corner this offseason, opines Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Any semblance of secondary depth Pittsburgh may have had is quickly being depleted, as second-year pro Senquez Golson — who missed his entire rookie season with injuries — is likely to be out for most (or all) of the 2016 campaign after undergoing Lisfranc surgery. This year’s first-round pick, cornerback Artie Burns, wasn’t expected to contribute much during the upcoming season, but he’s also been dinged up. A few veteran corners, such as Chris Culliver and Leon Hall, have come off the open market in recent days, so if the Steelers were interested in adding another option, they’d be looking at options such as Antonio Cromartie, Cortland Finnegan, Cary Williams, and Tarell Brown.

Let’s take a look at more from the AFC North:

  • Given that Bengals starting tight end Tyler Eifert is expected to miss the start of the regular season with following ankle surgery, and that backup TE Tyler Kroft is also out for awhile after hyperextending his knee, Cincinnati will need someone to catch passes in the middle of the field, and rookie slot receiver Tyler Boyd, who’s been labeled the “star of Bengals camp,” could be that player, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Scouting guru Dave-Te Thomas recently analyzed Cincinnati’s rookie class for PFR, noting that Boyd “explodes off the line and has the second gear to run past cornerbacks when he doesn’t get slowed down at the line of scrimmage.”
  • Speaking of the Bengals, current Browns head coach Hue Jackson was a driving force in convincing Terrelle Pryor to make the switch from quarterback to wide receiver when the pair was in Cincinnati, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Browns drafted five receivers in this year’s draft, adding that rookie crop to a unit that already includes Andrew Hawkins and the recently reinstated Josh Gordon, so Pryor will certainly face competition. But as Cabot details, the former Ohio State QB is likely to make his impact as a deep-ball specialist and a weapon on special teams.
  • Earlier today, we learned that the Steelers are unlikely to work out a new deal with receiver Antonio Brown in 2016, given that the club has a policy not to renegotiate with non-quarterbacks that aren’t entering their contract year. Brown currently earns $8.4MM annually, 18th among wide receivers.
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