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Bengals Bytes (2/28): Dressed to the nines

Mike Mayock gives his thoughts on the Bengals’ position with the ninth pick and having AJ McCarron as a bargaining chip. The Steelers make Antonio Brown the highest paid receiver in the NFL. The Chargers tag one of the premier pass rushers who was about to hit the free agent market.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

How fine is nine? Bengals alive and kicking with Simmons at helm

The Bengals head to this week’s NFL scouting combine in uncharacteristic fashion. They hold a top ten pick for just the third time in the last nine years and they’ve got a backup quarterback they can use as ammunition to move up in the other early rounds of the draft. Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s inexhaustible draft analyst, is hearing plenty of buzz about quarterback AJ McCarron but he’s not sure if the interest is going to match the Bengals’ desire in trade. But while there is some fear that a weak quarterback class may put their ninth pick in no man’s land, Mayock says the top ten will provide a big-time player, maybe even one of those coveted pass rushers.

Bengals should focus on front seven at combine

Positions of need: The Bengals' defense stepped up at the end of the season, but it's clear some of their veterans have reached the age that makes it necessary for the team to look for upgrades.

NFL Draft 2017: Bengals' Needs vs What Fans Want

There are major repairs needed for the Bengals to grace the postseason landscape again. But, are the fans and coaches seeing the same problems?

Why the Cincinnati Bengals make sense as landing spot for Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette appears to be in great position to be the first running back selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He might even be a top-10 pick in April. If that happens, Fournette could end up with a particular AFC North team who former NFL scout Chris Landry sees as a good fit for him.

AFC North Bytes

Browns release WR Andrew Hawkins

The Cleveland Browns have terminated the contract of WR Andrew Hawkins. “Andrew Hawkins was a great asset to the organization in his three seasons with our team,” said Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown. “He was an outstanding example to our young players both on and off the field. The well-intended work he did in the Cleveland community was greatly appreciated and the respect he earned throughout our league for never being afraid to responsibly create an educated dialogue around a societal issue is commendable. I’m not sure where Andrew’s next stop will be but his history shows that whatever he sets his mind to accomplish, success is sure to follow.”

Antonio Brown, Steelers Agree on New Contract

Antonio Brown isn't leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers anytime soon. The team announced Monday that he signed a five-year contract, which ESPN's Adam Schefter noted will make him the highest-paid receiver in the league. Brown reacted with a post on Twitter

Should The Baltimore Ravens Cut Dennis Pitta?

The Baltimore Ravens have many decisions to make on veterans with pending salaries. One of those players is Dennis Pitta. Pitta is a tight end that has been with the Ravens since he was drafted in 2010 out of BYU. He has been very productive in the years he has played with the Ravens, and earned a 5 year, $32 million contract before the 2014 season.

Random Bytes

Dontari Poe film review: What does he do and what’s he worth?

We’ve entered the offseason. Which means that we’re officially at the point where people value draft picks more than proven players, and (even more insanely) even value cap space more than proven players.

Peter Schrager's pre-Combine 2017 NFL Mock Draft

We’re through the Senior Bowl and the Super Bowl, and now it’s on to Indianapolis for the official start of draft season. To cite Bill Belichick: “No Days Off.” The NFL Scouting Combine awaits us, and we know a lot more about these prospects than we did a month ago. And the prospects know a lot more about themselves, having spent the past two months training for the biggest week of their professional lives.

2017 NFL mock draft: Experts team up to project 1st round

The 2017 NFL draft is still two months away, but there are already a million mock drafts flying across the web from national experts, team beat writers and just about anyone else who has an internet connection and a slightly unhealthy affinity for Draft Breakdown.

LA Chargers place franchise tag on LB Melvin Ingram

The Los Angeles Chargers have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. The team announced its decision Monday night to franchise Ingram, the pass-rushing dynamo with 18½ sacks over the past two seasons. Ingram also excels as an edge rusher for the Chargers. He had eight sacks last season, and he has 24½ in his five-year career.

Chiefs working to make Eric Berry highest-paid safety

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday the Chiefs are negotiating a deal with Berry to make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. The sides are working hard at a deal, Rapoport added, which could be reached before Wednesday's deadline to franchise tag players.