AFC North Notes: Bengals, McCarron, Steelers

It’s imperative that the Bengals gauge the A.J. McCarron market correctly this offseason, Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Enquirer write. Unless the quarterback wins his grievance case, he’ll be a restricted free agent, meaning that the team can attach a second-round tender to him and likely collect on a valuable draft pick.

In theory, the Bengals could use the first-round tender ($4MM+), but that would place him in the upper tier of backup quarterbacks not on rookie contracts. Last year, only three such QBs earned more – Mike Glennon, Nick Foles, and Matt Schaub. Rival clubs would be willing to take on McCarron for that salary, but it’s hard to see a team also sacrificing a first-round pick in that scenario.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was officially released from the rehabilitation clinic two months after having spinal stabilization surgery, as Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link) details. Shazier will now begin outpatient rehabilitation and still has a long road ahead of him, but it’s a very positive step forward for the 25-year-old.
  • It’s still not clear whether Dean Pees was forced out of his role as the Ravens‘ defensive coordinator, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun writes. Pees, 68, retired at the end of the 2017 season only to accept a job as the Titans’ defensive coordinator four weeks later. It’s possible that Pees painted himself into a corner by making his pending retirement known to members of the organization ahead of time, setting the table for Don “Wink” Martindale to take over as the new DC this year. Regardless of how it went down, Zrebiec argues that change can be a good thing. Pees isn’t necessarily responsible for all of the Ravens’ defensive woes, but the team did have a handful of late-game, late-season meltdowns under his watch.
  • Jason La Canfora of (on Twitter) expects Eric DeCosta to reach out to Ray Rice to join the team in some capacity when he takes over as Ravens GM in 2019. DeCosta will take over as the Ravens’ GM in 2019 with current GM Ozzie Newsome moving to a consultant role.
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