North Rumors: Bengals, Lamar, Lions, Bears

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson met with the Bengals on Monday, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. While the Bengals haven’t attempted to upgrade on incumbent signal-caller Andy Dalton in recent years, Jackson could potentially be available when the club picks at No. 21 in the first round. But as Dehner notes, Cincinnati might also be planning for other outcomes, such as a Jackson draft-day fall or a trade with another team. It’s conceivably the Bengals simply want to appear interested in quarterback prospects in an effort to goad a club into moving up. Currently, Cincinnati has free agent Matt Barkley and Jeff Driskel behind Dalton on its depth chart.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Lions have hosted Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Detroit has added several interior defensive lineman so far this offseason, but the team has yet to address its pass-rushing need. Landry could help in that regard, but there’s no guarantee he’ll still be on the board at pick No. 20. For what it’s worth, Landry played under now-Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni at BC. Landry, who posted 48 sacks during his collegiate career, would not only give Detroit immediate help on the edge, but allow the Lions to hedge against a potential 2019 loss of franchise-tagged defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
  • Darqueze Dennard finally lived up to his first-round billing in 2017, and the Bengals are now open to extending his contract, as Dehner writes in a separate piece. Under contract for one more season thanks to his fifth-year option, Dennard will earn $8.526MM in 2018 before hitting free agency next spring. The No. 24 overall selection in the 2014 draft, Dennard played 899 defensive snaps a season ago (nearly triple his previous career-high) and graded as the NFL’s 30th-best corner, per Pro Football Focus. Cincinnati is already heavily extended at cornerback, as it re-signed Dre Kirkpatrick and draft William Jackson III in 2016, but the club has always been willing to pay for secondary help.
  • The Bears will work out veteran defensive back Tharold Simon at their minicamp this week, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Simon, 27, didn’t see the field last season after inking a futures deal with the Redskins, as he was cut in May. A subsequent tryout with the Saints didn’t result in a contract, and Simon never generated any other known interest. However, Simon was a key contributor for the Seahawks in 2014, and as Bigg notes, has the type of size 6’2″, 200 pounds) that Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio covets. Wide receiver Marlon Brown and linebacker Ryan Delaire, each of whom boasts NFL experience, are also auditioning for the Bears, per Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).
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