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Bengals Bytes (2/19): 5 players who could become cap casualties for the Bengals

The Bengals could open up even more cap space in order to drastically overhaul their roster by parting ways with a few highly paid players.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images

Cut or Keep: 5 Bengals who could become cap casualties for 2018
The Cincinnati Bengals, by their own standards at least, have a few innovative options available to them this offseason before free agency and the draft. The Bengals don’t typically cut loose players before their contract expires. But we’re also already seeing chatter about how the team won’t have a ton of cap space to spend in free agency — they need to set aside money for rookies and injuries, rollover money for the next year and work on extensions for Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, if not Darqueze Dennard as well.

Time for a good retread: Bengals should pursue Rex Burkhead in free agency
The Cincinnati Bengals shy away from free agents they aren’t familiar with each year, instead taking the comfortable route with guys they know. Which makes New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead a viable target this offseason. Burkhead left the Bengals one year ago and inked a prove-it deal with the Patriots, turning the opportunity into 264 rushing yards and five touchdowns on a 4.1 per-carry average and 30 catches for 254 yards and three scores on 36 targets.

Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron wins grievance, becomes a free agent
AJ McCarron tried to stay busy Thursday. He got a workout in, working on his dropbacks and getting in some throws. He went to lunch with his cousin. Anything to stay out of the house as he anxiously waited to hear if he would be allowed to hit the free agent market in March, or if he would once again have to wait for the Cincinnati Bengals to determine his status.

A.J. McCarron to the Minnesota Vikings? Thanks, but no thanks
A little over five years ago, A.J. McCarron was enjoying life as the starting quarterback of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Life was good for the young signal caller. Since then, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014 and has been manning a spot on the team’s bench as the backup behind Andy Dalton. Now he may be getting an opportunity to become a starter somewhere in 2018.

TDBH: Bengals add former Gregg aide and future Princeton head coach Surace
It has been 19 years since Forrest Gregg last led the Bengals on the field as head coach, but Bengaldom ties run deep. They fill out their staff today with the Western Connecticut head man that worked under their first Super Bowl coach in 33-year-old Bob Surace. Surace, an All-Ivy League center at Princeton, is named an assistant to offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and offensive line coach Paul Alexander

AFC North Bytes

Ravens’ deep-ball performance was dismal in 2017
For the Baltimore Ravens, the deep ball has long been an integral part of their offense. The Ravens have won many a game on the back of downfield passing, including the iconic “Mile High Miracle” in the 2012 Super Bowl run. However, times have changed in Baltimore. Just look at the Ravens’ deep-pass production in 2017.

Myles Garrett blows away field as PFF’s top rookie edge defender | Browns Wire
Myles Garrett made quite an impression in his rookie year. Despite missing a handful of games with injuries, the No. 1 overall pick handily graded out as the top rookie edge defender. Garrett scored nearly 10 points higher than the next-closest rookie, Cincinnati’s Carl Lawson, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading.

Random Bytes

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Mike Tanier's Guesstacular 1st-Round Predictions
SPOILER ALERT: Neither the Browns nor the Broncos select a quarterback in the following one-round mock draft. That's because free agency is going to be an eight- to nine-figure financial tug of war over Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, AJ McCarron and any other unrestricted quarterback who ever started a few games without accidentally beaning himself upside the head with a football.

Brian Cushing Informed by Texans He'll Be Released After 9 Seasons with Houston
After nine seasons, Brian Cushing's time with the Houston Texans is over. The Texans informed Cushing they will release him at some point before the new league year begins March 14, per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s all good. It’s just part of the business," Cushing told McClain in a text message.

Devin McCourty: No truth to Malcolm Butler reports behind mysterious Super Bowl benching
Devin McCourty played defense without Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, and now he is coming to the defense of his much-scrutinized teammate as the NFL offseason gets underway. After playing 97.8 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps during the regular season, Butler did not play any in the loss to the Eagles. The mysterious decision combined with coach Bill Belichick's tight-lipped approach led to anonymously sourced reports Butler was benched for disciplinary reasons.