Clint Boling

North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Barr, Bears

The latest of many updates regarding the Browns‘ preference for their No. 1 pick runs indicates John Dorsey may have an issue with Baker Mayfield‘s height. While it’s uncertain if the Heisman Trophy winner’s 6-foot frame will be a deal-breaker, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears from a source close to the Browns the new Cleveland GM prefers size in quarterbacks (Twitter link). That and off-field baggage will work against Mayfield, who is slotted by most as a high first-round performer but someone who won’t likely be the Browns’ choice. Hue Jackson‘s on the same page about the size issueRobinson previously reported Dorsey, though, is a fan of Mayfield’s competitive streak and was zeroing in on he or USC’s Sam Darnold. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Josh Allen going to the Browns at No. 1, and Josh Rosen is generally regarded as the readiest pro prospect. So, the Browns — who wanted Alex Smith to mentor their to-be-determined prospect — will have a complex decision to make.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • Now that the Browns missed out on another trade target, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentions Kirk Cousins will warrant consideration. The Browns were planning on signing or trading for a bridge quarterback while their No. 1 pick learns but now could be in the Cousins mix. However, Cleveland’s status after two historically woeful years could derail this. Cousins has said he’s going to value a winning situation, and the Browns are about the furthest thing away from being classified as such. It would seem odd a team that’s at this stage of the rebuilding process would consider Cousins rather than a rookie, but the Browns ($100MM-plus in space) have the money to enter the fray. Cabot notes the Browns will likely know if they’ll have a shot at Cousins before the tampering period begins, and if he’s not interested, they will move on to bridge-type veterans, mentioning Chase Daniel or a Josh McCown reunion as options.
  • Like everyone else in the stellar 2014 first-round class, Anthony Barr is still attached to his rookie contract. However, the Vikings outside linebacker wants to sign an extension, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes the team is expected to try to sign Barr by the time training camp opens. “I love it here,” Barr said, via Tomasson. “Absolutely. I really love my teammates. I really love this team. I love the city. I could see myself being here for the future.” Jamie Collins‘ $12.5MM-per-year pact paces 4-3 outside ‘backers presently, but Barr could poised to (sorry) raise the bar here. No other player in this role makes more per year than Telvin Smith‘s $11.1MM pact, so it’s a near-certainty Barr’s re-up will come in above that. The Vikings extended Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen in 2017. A Barr agreement would be logical to follow this offseason.
  • Former Lions center Dominic Raiola played the Bears on numerous occasions. Chicago will now dip into the family for coaching help, hiring younger brother Donovan Raiola to be its assistant offensive line coach, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Donovan Raiola worked under new Bears O-line boss Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame.
  • Clint Boling took some snaps at left tackle last season, and Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes the Bengals could consider that for the future — even if he’s merely the backup tackle. Boling has been the Bengals’ left guard for six seasons. At right guard, Cincinnati liked what it saw from its young options will likely turn to either Alex Redmond, a 2016 UDFA, or Christian Westerman, a 2016 fifth-rounder, in 2018, per Dehner.

Bengals Place Tyler Eifert On IR

The Bengals are shutting down two of their brightest stars for the final game of the season. Tight end Tyler Eifert is headed to injured reserve one day after A.J. Green was told that he will not be taking the field again in 2016. The Bengals also announced that guard Clint Boling is being placed on IR. Tyler Eifert (Vertical)

This has been a frustrating year for Eifert. Heading into the fall, many expected the tight end to elevate his game to a new level and help take attention away from Green. Unfortunately, he’s been banged up the whole way and his season ends with just eight games played thanks to his injured ankle and back. The Bengals are 5-9-1 after Saturday’s loss to Houston and one has to wonder if they would be playoff bound if they had Eifert healthy for the whole year.

The Bengals wrap up the season against the Ravens on New Year’s Day. As of this writing, they are slated for the No. 8 pick in the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Re-Sign Clint Boling

1:53pm: Boling’s new deal with the Bengals is now official, the team confirmed today (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 9:51am: It’s a five-year, $26MM deal for Boling, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). That’s not a bad deal for the Bengals, considering other top free agent interior linemen, like Mike Iupati and Rodney Hudson, received $8MM+ annual salaries.

TUESDAY, 9:07pm: Boling is returning to the Bengals, as the two sides have worked out a deal, per the NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala (Twitter link).

7:26pm: The Bengals are nearing a deal to retain guard Clint Boling, according to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Boling had been drawing interest from other clubs, but it looks like he’ll head back to Cincinnati. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known.

The Vikings had expressed an interest in adding Boling, which would have reunited the Georgia alum with former Bengals coach Mike Zimmer. Boling’s trainer had indicated that although the Jets and Falcons were also pursuing the former fourth-round pick, Boling had the strongest interest in joining Minnesota. Instead, he’ll stay in Cincinnati, where’s started 44 games over the past three seasons.

Boling, who ranked at No. 44 among PFR’s Top 50 free agents, was especially excellent in 2014, grading as the league’s eighth-best guard per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He earned a base salary of $1.431MM last year, meaning he’ll be in for a large pay increase on his new contract.

Vikings Pursuing Clint Boling

The Vikings are making a strong push for free agent guard Clint Boling, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Boling has spent the last four years with the Bengals and Mike Zimmer was on staff for three of those seasons.

The Vikings are not the only team going after Boling, however. Boling’s trainer, Ryan Goldin, tells Tomasson that the Jets and Falcons are also very interested in Boling and the incumbent Bengals are hoping to retain him. Still, it sounds like Minnesota could have a leg up on the competition.

He has a lot of interest in the Vikings,’’ Goldin said. “I know he likes the Vikings organization. It’s going to be an interesting 24 hours.’’

Goldin also works out Vikings guard David Yankey and he believes it would be a positive for Yankey if Boling ended up on the same team. Yankey, a rising sophomore, did not see any games last season as a rookie.

Bengals, Maualuga Agree To Three-Year Deal

FRIDAY, 2:27pm: Maualuga’s three-year pact with the Bengals is worth $15MM, with $4.5MM in guaranteed money, tweets Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

THURSDAY, 2:57pm: The Bengals have locked up one of their pending free agents, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who reports that the team is in agreement with linebacker Rey Maualuga on a new three-year contract. The Bengals have since confirmed the move, announcing the signing on Twitter.

While re-signing Maualuga would have been on Cincinnati’s offseason to-do list anyway, the uncertain status of fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict likely made bringing back Maualuga a greater priority for the club. Burfict is recovering from undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee, and Maualuga was one of the defensive leaders for the Bengals in his absence.

A starter at linebacker for Cincinnati since he joined the team in 2009, Maualuga played 12 games in 2014, recording 61 tackles to go along with five passes defended and an interception. In 452 defensive snaps, the 28-year-old graded about in the middle of the pack, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required), which placed him 27th out of 60 qualified inside linebackers.

Per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Maualuga was one of three players the Bengals had hoped to get under contract before they reached the open market next week. The club is also attempting to work out new agreements with guard Clint Boling and kicker Mike Nugent, though it remains to be seen if that will happen before their agents can talk to rival suitors on Saturday.

AFC Mailbags: Chiefs, Jaguars, Ravens, Bengals

It’s Saturday morning, and ESPN.com’s NFL writers are opening their mailbags to answer questions from the readers. Let’s check out some notes from the AFC…

  • Adam Teicher believes Bryan Bulaga would make sense for the Chiefs, but he cautions that the team may need to back out if the bidding gets too high. As an alternative, the writer suggests the team could re-sign Ryan Harris to a much cheaper deal.
  • The Jaguars need to target a veteran wideout in free agency, writes Michael DiRocco. The teams young core of receivers, including Allen RobinsonAllen Hurns and Marqise Lee, played well in 2014, but the writer believes quarterback Blake Bortles would benefit from having a more seasoned target.
  • Jamison Hensley says there needs to be a “compromise” between the Ravens and cornerback Lardarius Webb. The organization won’t be able to pay the 29-year-old the $8MM he’d owed in 2015, and the team also wouldn’t have much of an incentive to cutting the player. Hensley notes that Webb could play “hardball” with the Ravens, but the writer believes they’ll ultimately restructure the contract.
  • Focusing on wide receivers, Hensley believes the Ravens best course would be re-signing Torrey Smith and drafting a wideout in the first two rounds. For running backs, the writer opines that Justin Forsett may be too pricey for the team. Instead, Hensley suggests former first-rounders Mark Ingram, Darren McFadden and Ryan Mathews as options.
  • The Bengals top concerns this offseason should be re-signing offensive guard Clint Boling and linebacker Rey Maualuga, according to Coley Harvey. Outside of the organization, the writer suggests the team could target Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.