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Phil Taylor and the AFC North: Cut by Browns, visiting Steelers; should Bengals be interested?

The former first round pick was surprisingly cut by Cleveland and is reportedly visiting the Steelers. Should the Bengals look at bringing him in?

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Some have speculated the Cincinnati Bengals might look at bringing in an able veteran after some cuts are made this preseason. Nobody can confirm the idea nor can one pinpoint which position might be affected, but the club has done it before.

Segue into a bit of news in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns released former first round defensive lineman Phil Taylor after the most recent wave of cuts. Taylor, at 6'3" and 335 pounds, was the 21st pick in the 2011 draft. Some believed Taylor would be the backup defensive tackle to rookie Danny Shelton, but was surprisingly shown the door.

Per multiple sources, Taylor visited the Steelers after being released just a day prior. Taylor played in a 3-4 defense in the past and Pittsburgh has had some injury issues of late, showing the logic behind the visit. Taylor's best season was as a rookie and he had flashes of brilliance since, but his hefty salary wasn't in the plans for the Browns.

What about the Bengals? Should they be interested in the big defensive tackle to bring in for their re-built defensive line rotation?

Why It Makes Sense:

A Penchant for Liking Scrap-Heap First Round Cast-Offs: Though Taylor will command a higher salary than some of the others the Bengals have brought in during recent years, Taylor still could appeal to the Bengals' brain trust. Taylor might have a chip on his shoulder after his fall from grace and feel like he still has something to prove. Those are the types of cast-offs who have made the Bengals a playoff team five times during the past six years.

A Need at Defensive Tackle: Sure, the Bengals have Pro Bowler Geno Atkins, but they have the one-dimensional Pat Sims, an aging and expensive Domata Peko, and the underwhelming duo of Brandon Thompson and Devon Still. Taylor is a totally different mold than three of those four, but still provides value as a run-stopper and occasional pass-rusher (four sacks as a rookie and two in 2013).

Familiarity in The AFC North: Another reason why the Taylor-to-Cincinnati thought could make sense is because he knows this division and what it takes to compete in it. It's evidenced by the Steelers pouncing at the opportunity to bring him in for a visit.

Learning a Lesson From 2014 Injuries: The Bengals rested on their playoff laurels last season, preferring not to bolster their team via free agency. As the season wore on and inevitable, albeit startling high amount of injuries took their toll, the line suffered for a stretch. The suffering was in both pass rush and the uncharacteristic inability to stop the run. Taylor could help truly bolster the depth.

Why It Doesn't Make Sense:

Finances: Though the Bengals have plenty of cap space and could conceivably still have some after the re-signing of a lot of internal impending free agents, Taylor was set to make almost $5.5 million in 2015 and might get a good chunk of change on the open market. With deals in the works for A.J. Green, George Iloka and others, Taylor might not make sense--especially if he comes in as simply a rotational guy.

Scheme (Mis)Fit: As mentioned above and noted with the Steelers' interest, Taylor might be more suited for a 3-4 nose tackle role, as opposed to the Bengals' 4-3 base scheme. That isn't to say Taylor would be ineffective with the Bengals, but perhaps more so in a different defense.

Hurting a Locker Room?: This isn't an indictment of Taylor's character, but rather recognizing the locker room contributions of Peko and Still. The big guy from the Pacific has caught a lot of criticism of late, but he remains a team leader and favorite of Marvin Lewis. Still has undoubtedly earned the respect and support of his teammates in his daughter's long battle with cancer. Would rolling the dice on Taylor for a career renaissance be worth showing a "good guy" the door?

Taylor's Bad Knee: Late Wednesday, word emerged the Steelers weren't interested in signing Taylor because of a knee issue. It's unknown how long it will take, but apparently it's enough to scare Pittsburgh away. Can't help the team if you aren't on the field, right?