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Bengals Bytes (3/2): Love thy neighbor

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Get to know Vontaze Burfict from the Bengal who may know him best, his locker neighbor. Also check out which players around the NFL got tagged, and which teams will be active during free agency.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Get to know 'good dude' Vontaze Burfict via his locker room neighbor
When Emmanuel Lamur flips on his TV and hears conversations about Vontaze Burfict, he's aghast. A quick scroll down his social media timeline makes him downright horrified. "If you only knew ..." he says to himself.

Bengals Beat Podcast: Free Agency Primer
Bengals beat writers Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski gather after spending a few days in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. After all the chatter, the picture clears for how the Bengals will tackle the daunting task of re-signing their horde of free agents. We talk about who it looks like tops the priority list and a surprising name we think it looks like will bolt for greener pastures.

Combine conjures memories of Bengals pursuit of Dalton
Coaches at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis are reluctant to talk about specific prospects for fear of tipping their hand as to which ones they are high on and which direction they may take the NFL draft.

Adam Jones: I lost my cool in the last game, it won’t happen again
Soon-to-be free agent cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones is promising to clean up his on-field act this year, whether it’s in Cincinnati or somewhere else. Jones said on PFT Live on NBCSN that he doesn’t think he has a discipline problem, but he does know he can’t afford to cost his team 15 yards, as he did at a critical time in the Bengals’ playoff loss to the Steelers.

Bengals Offseason Outlook: WRs
Bengals columnists Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. begin previewing the status of every position as the team heads into the beginning of the new league year and free agency on March 9. Gain a deeper perspective of the coach's thoughts on personnel, the draft prospects, free agency as well as salary cap ramifications going forward.

Cincinnati Bengals: Smart Not To Use Franchise Tag
The Cincinnati Bengals have used the franchise tag on players a handful of times. The most recent being on Michael Johnson in 2013, before he left for Tampa Bay the next year and returned to the Bengals in 2015. They also used it on Mike Nugent in 2012 and Shayne Graham in 2010 with the idea to keep two solid kickers at reasonable prices.

Bengals sorting out options
As expected the Bengals didn’t designate a franchise free agent for the second straight year on Tuesday, but their foray into 2016 free agency actually began nearly a year ago when they exercised their fifth-year options on cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and right guard Kevin Zeitler. They’re expected to make the same call on 2013 first-rounder Tyler Eifert this May.

George Iloka: open to return
Heading into free agency for the first time and fresh off his third straight season as the Cincinnati Bengals' strong safety, George Iloka said he's open to a return.

Random Bytes

Free agent Russell Okung to represent self in contract negotiations
Free-agent tackle Russell Okung says he will represent himself in contract negotiations. Okung is entering free agency after six years with the Seattle Seahawks, who drafted him No. 6 overall in the 2010 draft.

Jets' Giacomini, Browns' Barnidge bringing football overseas
NEW YORK (AP) — A spirited brainstorming session over some noodles, vegetables and rice. That's how Breno Giacomini and Gary Barnidge — a couple of ambitious NFL players intent on making a difference beyond the field — and their buddy Ahmed Awadallah came up with their mission to take American football all over the world.

Browns teammate says Josh Gordon hit rock bottom, ballooned 30 pounds
Josh Gordon was one of the most explosive receivers before his indefinite suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. But it appears the league ban hit him pretty hard. Browns safety Donte Whitner told that Gordon "hit rock bottom" last year and looked like he had had ballooned to 255 pounds.

Mason Crosby signs 4-year extension with Packers, removing him from a thin kicker market
The Green Bay Packers signed kicker Mason Crosby to a four-year contract extension Tuesday, according to Fox Sports' Peter Schrager. Crosby was just one member of a thin group of kickers set to hit the open market this offseason, and the Packers didn't want to take a chance at being left without someone they can trust.

NFL Free Agent Bargain Bin - Free Agency Update
Tuesday's franchise and transition tags removed many of the best players from the Free Agent Pool, leaving behind a thinned-out class for needy teams to sift through. After examining what's left, I came up with a list of 20-plus players who could become bargains on the open market. The NFL's widespread and overwhelming amount of salary cap space probably means a handful of these players won't come at bargain costs. But for now, at least, these players don't seem to be generating much buzz and a few may prove free agent steals.

Joey Bosa might be a great pro, but he's no J.J. Watt. Nobody is.
Joey Bosa and J.J. Watt are both football players. They are both large, strong men who were outstanding college athletes at their respective Big Ten institutions. They both played defensive end primarily while in school. They also both happen to be white dudes.

What's Life Like After the NFL?
It was March of 2000, probably a few years earlier than Aaron Taylor anticipated retiring when he entered the NFL in 1994, but at that point, the pain in his surgically repaired knees was in that medical purgatory where it was far too agonizing to continue playing offensive line but they were fortunately still functional enough for him to lead a normal life.

The Post-Combine Mock Draft
The reason we love mock drafts is the same reason so many football fans get swept up in the speculation of this stretch of the NFL calendar. Seeing a player tied to a favorite team, even for a fleeting second in Internet form, is a way to feel the hope that comes with this time of year.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell cleared to run on treadmill
The Steelers might not want to put running back Le'Veon Bell on any kind of timetable, but he just crossed a significant threshold today. Bell just posted a short clip of himself running on a treadmill, in what appears to be a device to keep the weight off his surgically repaired knee, saying he was "clear to run."

Erin Andrews got rich off stalker's video, Marriott lawyers say
Erin Andrews has spent the last several days recounting, in brutal detail, the fallout from the nude video a stalker recorded through a hotel wall and posted on the internet. She's talked about the anger and shame she still feels, and the depression, and the anxiety. On Monday, she cried on the witness stand.

Behind Closed Doors at the NFL Combine
Teams are allowed to schedule formal interviews with 60 prospects, each lasting just 15 minutes. The MMQB sat in the room as the Dolphins grilled a quarterback and tried to determine the makeup of the man.

PFT Commenter made taeks great again
My favorite thing PFT Commenter ever wrote is "Route 69 to Cumming." Two months before the Iowa caucuses we sent him on a road trip through the state, from a Trump rally to a Chris Christie town hall before ending up at one of the Democratic debates. In between, he and his 2012 Chevy Coffin make stops at a rock with "abortion" painted on it, seedy truck stops, a couple bars, probably a few adult bookstores (I don't know, I didn't see the expense report) and a convenience store where he overheard someone arguing with a clerk that "pop" was food and therefore shouldn't be taxed. He was exactly where he belonged.

Adrift on the S.S. Gronk, where nothing bad can ever happen
I’d like you to imagine something for a moment. I’d like you to imagine hundreds of people in matching zebra-stripe Zubaz headbands. I’d like you to imagine them on a tiny island in the Bahamas — a glorified sandbar, really — that hosts little beyond lizards, crabs, coconuts, and Bud Light, 50 miles from the next significant land mass. I’d like you to imagine them tanning and dancing and twerking and cradling bottles of Fireball, and at their center, surrounded by two brothers, a father, and an ever-adjusting wall of cameras straining to get a selfie with him: Rob Gronkowski, All-Pro New England Patriots tight end and designated party cruise captain.