North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Packers

With former Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo now in place in the Bengals‘ defensive coordinator, Cincinnati is attempting to corner the market on ex-New York defenders. Having already signed cornerback B.W. Webb and met with defensive end Kerry Wynn, the Bengals sat down with former Giants safety Curtis Riley on Thursday, according to Field Yates of (Twitter link). A former undrafted free agent and special teamer with the Titans, Riley was forced into a premier role with New York in 2018 and ended up starting all 16 games. He looked overmatched, however, and graded as just the No. 79 safety among 93 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Cincinnati is already set at safety with Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams as 2019 starters, so Riley would likely revert to a special teams role if signed.

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

  • Justin Houston didn’t appear to be on the Steelers‘ radar before signing with the Colts earlier today, tweets Jeremy Fowler of Indianapolis gave Houston $24MM over a two-year term, and that $12MM annual average was likely to pricey for Pittsburgh, which only has about $7MM in available cap space. While Houston would have been a solid addition for the Steelers, they don’t necessarily need any pass-rush help. Pittsburgh tied for first in sacks (52) in 2018 and ranked first in adjusted sack rate, and will bring back T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo next season.
  • The Packers monitored the free agent slot receiver market when free agency opened but opted to spend in other areas, reports Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Green Bay allowed Randall Cobb to leave for a one-year, $5MM deal with the Cowboys earlier this week, but the club could search for a veteran slot receiver in the coming weeks, with Dontrelle Inman, Jermaine Kearse, and Rishard Matthews profiling as options. However, the Packers might be tighter on cap space than is publicly believed: while most assessments peg Green Bay with roughly $13.5MM in funds, Tom Silverstein of MJS says the Packers may only have ~$5MM in space (Twitter link).
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens re-signed backup quarterback Robert Griffin III to a two-year deal.
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