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Bengals Bytes (3/29): Better in stripes

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Michael Johnson came back to Cincinnati and proved what happened in Tampa Bay was a fluke. The NFL continues to suspend the blackout rule and Hue Jackson recognizes the Browns need more firepower for their offense.

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Michael Johnson made big impact for Cincinnati Bengals
One of the Cincinnati Bengals’ biggest priorities last offseason hinged upon their ability to boost a pass rush that was the league's worst the season prior. After posting a league-low 20 sacks in 2014, the Bengals were determined to do a better job of getting after quarterbacks in 2015. Ultimately, they did. And defensive end Michael Johnson, arguably Cincinnati's most important free-agent acquisition last offseason, was a big reason why.

Hobson's Choice: issues and answers
If anything the mantra of "best-player-available," is really rolling now that they re-signed Vincent Rey and starting cornerback Adam Jones along with starting safety George Iloka. The key in the Bengals drafts since 2009 is they haven’t forced it and reached for need. That philosophy is pretty ingrained now and plus, if there is one position in the history of their franchise where they haven’t strained in the first round, it is wide receiver. Just look at their all-time list.  The leader, Chad Johnson, is a second-rounder. The guy he passed, Carl Pickens, is a second-rounder. The guy who holds the record for most catches in a season, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, is a seventh-rounder.

Insider Buzz: 4 Teams Eyeing Braxton Miller in Round 1; Texans and Bengals Highly Interested
Braxton Miller has garnered a lot of interest as a wide receiver prospect for the 2016 NFL draft. What teams are showing the most interest in the former Ohio State Buckeye? Watch as Bleacher Report NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller breaks down the latest in the video above.

Random Bytes

Best remaining unsigned NFL free agents 2016, led by Greg Hardy
Free agency has slowed to a crawl, but several notable players remain on the market. John Clayton ranks the top 15, starting with Greg Hardy and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Sammie Coates embraces broccoli, marriage and Steelers opportunity
While many NFL players migrate to Los Angeles or Miami or Phoenix for the offseason, Sammie Coates has been in Pittsburgh all winter, frequenting the Pittsburgh Steelers' facility on weekdays, showing his bosses dedication.

A review of the 10 teams who traded up for quarterbacks the last 10 years
Over the last week, a few rumors have emerged that the Eagles could be interested in trading up for a quarterback, more specifically, North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. The perception about trading up for quarterbacks has become that the cost has to be extraordinarily high.

SI 50: Counting down the top 50 NFL prospects of 2016
The 2016 NFL draft is quickly approaching, so as NFL teams get their draft boards in order, Doug Farrar has assembled his own Big Board, featuring his top 50 players. The SI 50 uses tape study to define the best prospects in this class and break down their strengths and weaknesses which explain their rankings.

Treadwell set to take stage at star-studded Ole Miss pro day
After refraining from running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, all eyes will be on Laquon Treadwell when he participates in the event at Ole Miss' pro day on Monday.

Media Circus: Why ESPN is featuring WWE on SportsCenter
Why ESPN is featuring WWE on Sportscenter, and why other media outlets would be wise to cater to wrestling fans going forward. Imagine if ESPN parted ways with Adam Schefter without an explanation. And, a look at some of the best journalism from last week.

Latest NFL mock draft: What's new after the start of free agency?
The start of free agency changed things for a lot of teams' biggest roster needs, but it didn't necessarily change their draft boards. Most of the top prospects have had their pro days, and I'm coming off a few days in Florida where I spoke with many of the NFL's 32 head coaches and general managers. It's time to update our mock draft.

NFL continues suspension of blackout rule
When the NFL "suspended" the controversial blackout rule in 2015, the unspoken message was that it's never coming back. Officially, it's not coming back in 2016. Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that owners voted last week to extend the suspension by another year.

Poll: Should the Browns Try to Move QB Josh McCown?
With the team recently signing QB Robert Griffin III and likely drafting a quarterback at some point in the 2016 NFL Draft, it's clear that QB Josh McCown is not somebody who new head coach Hue Jackson envisions starting for the Cleveland Browns.

Former Lions Player Accuses NFL Of Hiding Brain Damage Risks In New Lawsuit
Tracy Scroggins filed a federal lawsuit in Florida on Monday accusing the NFL of deliberately concealing the long-term effects of repeated head trauma. The lawsuit, filed in Florida, cites the New York Times which reported that as many as 100 concussions were left out of a peer-reviewed report the NFL has touted for years.

2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades
The Bengals lost seven free agents this offseason and didn't receive anything in return, which was to be expected. Like the Packers, Cincinnati believes in building through the draft, and it's a strategy that has worked out rather well for them. Thus, I won't penalize the Bengals for not acquiring anyone.

Link between fighting, concussions, ‘personal tragedies’ discussed in unsealed NHL emails
A U.S. federal court in Minneapolis has unsealed a trove of sensitive emails sent between high-ranking National Hockey League executives, including one email exchange in which NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly links fighting in hockey to concussions, depression, and "personal tragedies."

Levy takes an Instagram shot at Irsay’s CTE comments
Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy used his Instagram account Monday to take a personal dig at Colts owner Jim Irsay. After Irsay was quoted as saying that not enough is known to make a direct link between playing football and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, Levy took to social media to question Irsay.

Hue Jackson: Browns need to address wide receiver
The Browns cut their highest-paid wideout and watched their leading wide receiver sign with the Chargers. Find out what coach Hue Jackson had to say about the position leading up to the draft.