AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Ravens

The Bengals were interested in defensive end Chris Smith for more than a year before acquiring him from the Jaguars this week, tweets Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jacksonville’s new front office structure, which now includes Tom Coughlin, helped the trade come to fruition, per Owczarski. The Bengals forked over a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick for Smith, who has appeared in 19 games over the past three seasons. Smith, 25, will slide into a Cincinnati edge rushing group that also includes Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Will Clarke, and Wallace Gilberry. The Bengals are likely to add a pass rusher early in the draft this month, so Smith isn’t a lock to make the roster, especially given that he hasn’t been active on special teams.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Washington wide receiver John Ross will meet with the Bengals over the weekend, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Ross was thought to have completed his predraft visits, but Cincinnati scheduled a visit “at the last minute,” according to Rapoport. The Bengals re-signed veteran pass-catcher Brandon LaFell last month, and have 2016 draft picks Tyler Boyd and Cody Core on the roster, but are still looking for another weapon to play opposite A.J. Green. Ross could conceivably be in play for Cincinnati at No. 9 (especially after posting a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine), but would more likely be in consideration if the Bengals trade down in the first round.
  • Safety Lardarius Webb‘s new three-year deal with the Ravens has a base value of $5.1MM, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). The pact comes with a $1.2MM signing bonus, while another $1.4MM is available annually via incentives. Those incentives are based on playing time, interceptions, fumble recoveries, punt return yards, and other statistical measurements, per Zrebiec. Webb, 32, played 95% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps in 2016, but his role could be reduced now that the Ravens have signed free agent safety Tony Jefferson.
  • The Steelers plan to host Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster next week, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Foster has some off-field concerns and injury issues, but he’s still the best off-ball linebacker in this year’s class, so he probably won’t be around when Pittsburgh comes on the clock at No. 30 barring a draft-day all. The Steelers already boast one of the league’s best inside linebackers in Ryan Shazier, while Vince Williams is projected to replace Lawrence Timmons, who signed with Miami.
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