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Bengals Bytes (1/16): AJ McCarron wanted an opportunity to compete with Cleveland

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AJ McCarron was disappointed that the trade fell through. He was excited to have a chance to compete with Hue Jackson and the Browns.

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Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

AJ McCarron: I wanted that opportunity to be traded to the Browns
Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron was nearly traded to the Browns, but the trade fell through when the proper paperwork wasn’t sent to the league office before the trade deadline. McCarron now says he wanted to be traded because he thought he could have started and won games in Cleveland, rather than stand on the sideline in Cincinnati.

Bengals now have 3 strong possible successors to Marvin Lewis on staff
Is it too early to talk about the end of the Marvin Lewis era again? Because we should. It wasn’t too long ago we openly heard Lewis admit current Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson would have taken up the mantle as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals if he had remained with the team.

Being excited about the Bengals and Marvin Lewis is okay
It’s okay. You’re not some lunatic who loves pain and is delusional about the state of Cincinnati football. The Bengals are making some smooth moves with the coaching staff and it looks like the tone is set for 2018. There have been more changes with Marvin Lewis staying put than there would have been if he left. With that said, it’s okay to be excited about the prospects of the upcoming season.

TDBH: Zimmer introduced as defensive coordinator
Like the man who introduces him today as the Bengals new defensive coordinator, the hard-boiled Mike Zimmer arrives at Paul Brown Stadium after spending seven years as a coordinator with one perennial playoff contender (Dallas), spending one year with another team (Atlanta), and winning a Super Bowl ring (as a secondary coach with the 1995 Cowboys). Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, yet to find the magic on defense he had as a Super Bowl coordinator, is trying to find the key for a Cincinnati defense that finishes 27th or lower in four of his five seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals' 2018 free agent tracker
The Cincinnati Bengals enter the 2018 offseason with an estimated $36.9 million in cap space and the club has 10 players that can be unrestricted free agents once the new league year begins at 4 p.m. on March 14. Of those 10 players, eight were listed as starters for the team at various points in the season.

Former Longtime Bengals O-Line Coach Paul Alexander Expected To Join Staff
Former longtime Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander is expected to join the Cowboys’ staff, presumably to replace Frank Pollack in overseeing the offensive line. Last week, the Cowboys parted ways with Pollack after five seasons, including the last three as offensive line coach. Pollack has been announced as the new offensive line coach in Cincinnati, the job Alexander held over the previous 23 seasons.

AFC North Bytes

4 things that went right for the Ravens in 2017
It’s easy to get doom and gloom when you look over the 2017 season for the Baltimore Ravens. Given that they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons, despite having nearly a full lock on getting in, I’d be more concerned of fans that aren’t peeved at the team.

Browns notebook: After being fired by Titans, Mike Mularkey linked to Cleveland’s offensive coordinator job
Browns coach Hue Jackson has been evaluating whether his search for an offensive coordinator will actually end with him hiring one to provide some much-needed assistance. The Tennessee Titans firing coach Mike Mularkey on Monday morning will apparently influence Jackson’s evaluation.

AFC North awards feature Pittsburgh Steelers' black-and-gold theme
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only AFC North team to earn a playoff berth, and their excellence this season was reflected in division awards handed out by the ESPN reporters covering the division -- Jeremy Fowler with the Steelers, Jamison Hensley with the Baltimore Ravens, Pat McManamon with the Cleveland Browns and Katherine Terrell with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Random Bytes

NFL Coaching Carousel: Mike Vrabel a Top Candidate to be Titans Coach
When they fired Ken Whisenhunt halfway through 2015, the beheading the Titans’ quarterbacks were taking early that season pushed the issue. When they hired Jon Robinson as GM in January 2016, his time spent around Tom Brady as a scout for the Patriots and in drafting Jameis Winston as the Buccaneers’ director of player personnel were factors. And when Mike Mularkey was given the head-coaching job full-time, it was largely because he’d fixed the aforementioned protection problem.

Giants Head Coach Rumors: Pat Shurmur Targeted by New York, Would Accept Job
Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the top choice to fill the New York Giants' vacancy at head coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Shurmur would reportedly accept the job if it is offered.

Which NFL Players Have the Most to Prove in Conference Championship Games?
Including perhaps the first "home" Super Bowl team. There are those Minnesota Vikings, fresh off one of the wildest finishes in postseason history. Their NFC title game opponent and host, the Philadelphia Eagles, refuse to give up their top-seed status without a fight...even without Carson Wentz.