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Bengals Bytes (3/15): AJ McCarron finding his shot

AJ McCarron settled in with the last team looking for a starting quarterback, but in any case, he should be getting his shot.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bengals should make a move for Tyrann Mathieu
News broke on Wednesday morning that the Arizona Cardinals will be releasing safety Tyrann Mathieu. With the amount of talent that the Cardinals have at the safety position, it made sense to move on from the veteran. Arizona had until today to decide whether they wanted to pick up the option for Mathieu guaranteeing the ball-hawking safety $19 million over the next two seasons.

Bengals re-sign punter Kevin Huber
A year after sparking some degree of controversy by drafting a placekicker only to release him, the Cincinnati Bengals avoided that scenario with their punting unit by re-signing veteran Kevin Huber to a three-year deal. It was his first foray into free agency, so Huber tried to stay busy at his offseason residence in North Carolina to keep his mind off the negotiations.

Buffalo Bills sign former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron
McCarron's deal has a base value of $8.1 million and can be worth up to $15.1 million if he reaches playing-time invectives, a source said. The deal includes $6 million guaranteed, per source. McCarron joins 2017 fifth-round pick Nathan Peterman on the Bills' QB depth chart after Buffalo's trade of Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns was made official Wednesday.

A.J. McCarron should not be compared to Tyrod Taylor in 2018
The Buffalo Bills swapped quarterbacks Wednesday, officially trading Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns and signing AJ McCarron to a two-year contract. Comparing the two quarterbacks' performances this season would not give a complete picture of what the deals mean to Buffalo. The question is not whether the Bills upgraded from Taylor to McCarron in 2018.

TDBH: A dozen years later Thornton makes another strike in stripes
Twelve years after defensive tackle John Thornton is a linchpin of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ first free-agent class, Thornton is now an agent and represents right end Michael Johnson in his improbable route back to Cincinnati after a year hiatus. Last year Thornton and Johnson team for an enormous free-agent deal in Tampa Bay for five years, $43 million that lasts just one season when Johnson hurts his ankle and struggles through a four-sack season for the two-win Bucs. Everyone knows where this is headed even though his old defensive coordinator, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, hosts him for a visit after the Bucs cut him last week. Johnson never gets off the Bengals’ defensive line’s text tree last season and does things like call in to their break-up dinner at training cap.

Glenn officially lines up
Before the trade for Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn officially went through Wednesday, he pondered his number in Bengals’ stripes as he gazed at the lockers of the offensive line during Tuesday’s brisk meet-and-greet at Paul Brown Stadium. The man who wore No. 77 in Buffalo knows that is not exactly a hidden figure in Cincinnati. “I thought Whit’s number might be retired,” Glenn said.

Glenn gives offense a big piece in rehab
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has been going overtime making the scheme his own. Usually the Paul Brown Stadium gym is reserved for walk-throughs for the offense and defense. But Lazor has been walking his coaches through his new playbook so they can get a feel for it before the players report next month. Lazor has been meeting with new offensive line coach Frank Pollack anywhere they can, at the Senior Bowl, at the NFL scouting combine, in the office, in an effort to make sure the running game is in concert with the pass game, a concept that has often proved fleeting Bengaldom. When it comes to stats, Lazor has zeroed in on one and it’s not sacks or RPOs or completion percentage.

Reports say Huber back; McCarron to Bills for what could be a 5th; Report of Tez trade talk dubious
As free agency kicked off Wednesday, reports surfaced that the Bengals had reached a three-year deal with long-time punter Kevin Huber as he begins his 10th season in the league. Plus, the Bills announced they had signed Bengals back-up quarterback AJ McCarron to a two-year deal that appears to be for stop-gap purposes as Buffalo takes dead aim at the draft's top ten to grab its quarterback of the future. Another report that the Bengals and Raiders were talking about a trade involving Cincy linebacker Vontaze Burfict wasn’t holding any water late Wednesday afternoon. Word was there was nothing to the report out of a Birmingham, Ala., TV station.

AFC North Bytes

Jeremy Maclin Reportedly Released by Ravens, Will Enter Free Agency
Maclin, 29, spent just one year with the Baltimore Ravens, catching 40 passes for 440 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. He earned a grade of 73.3 from Pro Football Focus, 53rd among NFL wideouts. The wideout was a steady producer from 2010-15, accumulating at least 63 catches, 850 receiving yards and five touchdowns in those seasons. He was super for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, notching 1,318 receiving yards and 10 scores along with a Pro Bowl nod.

Joe Thomas Retires After 11 Seasons with Browns
Joe Thomas' 11-year NFL career came to an end Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns officially announced. Mary Kay Cabot of initially reported the news. The standout offensive tackle spoke about his decision in the team's press release

Josh Gordon and Damarious Randall have made up now that they're Browns teammates |
Gordon and Randall are now on the same side and no longer feuding. The two engaged in a Twitter spat after the Browns' 27-21 overtime loss to the Packers Dec. 10, but it's all good now that they'll both be playing for the Browns this season.

Random Bytes

NFL Free Agents 2018: Grades for Wednesday's Signings & Landing Spot Predictions
NFL free agency technically only kicked off a few hours ago, but more than 100 players have already agreed to deals on the open market. The launch of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday felt a lot more like a closing bell. Most of the top unrestricted free agents have already found new homes or returned to their 2017 employers. In fact, many of them did so well before they were officially allowed to sign on dotted lines, which is why we were able to provide in-depth reaction to many of the biggest moves on Tuesday.

Report: Ndamukong Suh Released by Dolphins 3 Years After Signing $114M Contract
The Miami Dolphins released defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on Wednesday, halfway through a megadeal that made the three-time All-Pro the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news as the new league year approached.

Nate Solder Reportedly to Sign with Giants After 7 Seasons with Patriots
Nate Solder is reportedly moving on from the New England Patriots after seven seasons. Solder has reportedly agreed to sign with the New York Giants, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Rapoport added Solder agreed to a four-year contract worth $62 million with $35 million guaranteed.

Frank Gore, Lions Reportedly Nearing Contract After 3 Seasons with Colts
Even though Gore has not directly teased retirement, there's always a question of how long a running back in his 30s will be able to stick around. The 34-year-old didn't have his best season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, tying his career low with 3.7 yards per attempt. In 2016, Gore became the first Colts running back since Joseph Addai nine years earlier to break the 1,000-yard mark.