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Bengals Bytes (1/21): Gone too soon

Other teams are already imagining what Andrew Whitworth can do for them. Zach Orr suffered a serious neck injury that is forcing him into retirement. Aaron Rodgers takes a shot at Atlanta, and it is pretty fantastic.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants need to go all-in on signing UFA LT Andrew Whitworth

The one free agent who could put the New York Giants over the hump in 2017 is likely not who you expected. Andrew Whitworth is not a name that will have New York Giants fans jumping out of their seats, but it should be.

Super close

It is now 35 years, six presidents, and a dynasty ago since they met on the 1 and history and from the confines of Charlie 4 Seasoning Inc., in Sugarland, Texas, former Bengals running back Charles Alexander had just one question from across the goal line of generations.

Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Jonathan Brown

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said there will be an open competition for the kicking job in 2017, and the team announced the first participant in that battle today with the signing of Jonathan Brown to a Reserves/Future contract. Brown originally joined the Bengals in May as an undrafted college free agent, but he suffered a foot injury in spring workouts that landed him on Injured Reserve.

5 reasons Cincinnati Bengals can’t call themselves contenders now

Yesterday we considered the idea the Cincinnati Bengals are closer to being contenders than needing to rebuild. Today we look at the flip side. Here are five reasons, some fairly factual and others a matter of perception, the Bengals are closer to bottoming out than going back to the playoffs

AFC North Bytes

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell named AFC North offensive MVP

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell was named AFC North offensive MVP by the four reporters covering the division for

Tom Brady has 19 touchdowns, 0 interceptions vs. Mike Tomlin

The Rooneys own the Steelers, but Tom Brady owns Mike Tomlin. In the 10 years since Tomlin became head coach of the Steelers, Brady and the Patriots have faced Pittsburgh six times. And in those six games, Brady has absolutely embarrassed Tomlin’s defense.

Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: NFL Scouts Down on 2017 QB Class

Are the Cleveland Browns in love with a quarterback? That's the feeling many around the NFL have this week. I've spoken to multiple scouts, one general manager and even a prominent trainer who have all been told the Browns are enamored with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson—but not at No. 1 overall.

Ravens' Zachary Orr announces retirement because of neck injury

Zachary Orr had already broken down several times over the past couple of weeks. It happened not long after he learned the sobering truth — his football career was over because of a congenital neck/spine condition. It happened just two days ago after he got off the phone with former Ravens teammate Steve Smith Sr., a 37-year-old who recently retired on his own terms.

Random Bytes

Aaron Rodgers: It’s loud in Atlanta, whether it’s all natural or not

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a shot at the Falcons’ history of playing fake crowd noise over the Georgia Dome loudspeakers in his final media appearance before Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Asked about the noise in Atlanta, Rodgers acknowledged it’s loud, and then noted that the noise might not actually be coming from the fans.

NFL Playoff Predictions 2017: Chris Simms' Championship-Round Projections

One big kickoff return and my first career victory—the win I had dreamed about for over two decades—was in jeopardy. I looked and felt like the Redskins had gut-punched me. That's when our offensive quality control coach came over and asked me a question I'd never forget: "Did you think your first win was going to come easy?"

Vikings exec George Paton a favorite for 49ers' GM job

Packers executive Brian Gutekunst elimnated himself from the race for the 49ers' general manager job by signing a new deal to stay in Green Bay, leaving just Vikings executive George Paton and Cardinals executive Terry McDonough in the running for the position, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

Falcons provide lesson in team building; Aaron Rodgers' magic

There is always an opportunity to learn from the work of other executives when you're in the team-building business. That's why general managers around the NFL routinely study the rosters of the participants in the AFC and NFC Championship Games to see if there are lessons to be learned. I've looked at the starting lineups of each of the finalists, and I don't believe it's a coincidence that every team features a five-star general under center.