Thursday mailbag: post NFL meetings
There is still plenty to talk about after the free agency frenzy and NFL meetings. The Cincinnati Bengals are looking at numerous changes whether that be coaches, players, and schemes for the 2018 season. Head coach Marvin Lewis addressed the media on all of these topics in Orlando, Florida this week giving us an idea of his thoughts on what needs to happen to get the Bengals back into the playoffs.
Marvin Lewis says Bengals have ‘done a few things to get back to a championship level’
It’s a big deal when the normally conservative Marvin Lewis starts making notable claims in front of the media. Lewis did this recently at the NFL meetings in Orlando, suggesting the team’s strong offseason to date has the team ready to compete for a Super Bowl.
Goal of Bengals' new DC: Get Carl Lawson on field more
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson proved himself to be a rising star last year. Lawson had 8.5 sacks last season, just one shy of Carlos Dunlap's rookie record of 9.5. Ask Lawson, and he'd be quick to point out the sack that got taken away due to a a call on the field against the Browns on Oct. 1. Lawson actually knocked a tooth out on the play, but was more concerned about the fact the play was ruled an incomplete pass and not challenged because it was fourth-and-10.
Carlos Dunlap to Visit U.S. Troops and Families as Part of NFL's Salute to Service
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap will join Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison, Atlanta Falcons guard Ben Garland, New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram, Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray and former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan on a weeklong, NFL-USO tour to Italy and Germany to visit U.S. troops and their families at military bases. An extension of the NFL's Salute to Service - the League's yearlong work to honor, empower and connect service members through the unifying lens of football and strategic partnerships with impact-driven organizations - this year's NFL-USO tour will feature an array of base activities consisting of unit visits to one-on-one meetings with installation leadership. The NFL ambassadors will also spend quality time with service members and their families, as well as distribute sports-themed USO2GO kits designed to help service members in remote locations relax and recharge.
The future is '18
The Bengals broke from this week’s NFL meetings encouraged that their busy offseason has them on track to return to the postseason for the seventh time this decade. Buoyed by a trade for veteran left tackle Cordy Glenn and boosted by the signing of reigning NFL tackles champion in middle linebacker Preston Brown, they join a roster that continues to get high draft grades and has convinced management it is good enough to win in 2018.
Notes: Bengals eye Geno, Dunlap for deals of ages
On the 30th birthday of their most decorated front seven player ever, the Bengals made no qualms about extending the contract of six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins into the next decade. “In our football business, you pay for high end talent and Geno has been at the top of our industry for a long time,” said Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn Wednesday at the close of the NFL meetings. “And we think he can continue to do that and that’s why we’re trying to see what the opportunities are going forward.”
TDBH: Owners pass Carson and Chad rules
The NFL owners pass two rule modifications today that have Bengals stripes all over them. "The Chad Rule" backed by Cincinnati, passes, 29-3, as the league looks to rein in choreographed touchdown celebrations that Pro Bowl wide receivers Chad Johnson of the Bengals and Steve Smith of the Panthers have brought to an art form. More importantly, the Bengals' push to cut down on low quarterback hits in the wake of Carson Palmer's devastating left knee injury in the Wild Card loss to the Steelers results in a point-of-emphasis measure that passes by 25-7. The NFL competition committee, of which Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is the newest member, doesn't feel that Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen's hit on Palmer on the second play of the game would have fallen under the new modified language and wouldn't bring a fine or 15-yard penalty.
AFC North Bytes
Le'Veon Bell Rumors: Steelers RB Wants Same Money as Antonio Brown in Contract
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell reportedly wants to receive the same $17 million average annual salary wide receiver Antonio Brown got from the franchise when he signed a four-year, $68 million extension last February. On Wednesday, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network reported Bell has informed Pittsburgh's front office of his contractual demands, but Kinkhabwala noted the Steelers aren't prepared to make that type of offer.
Cody Kessler Traded to Jaguars; Browns Receive Conditional 2019 Draft Pick
The Cleveland Browns traded quarterback Cody Kessler to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a conditional 2019 seventh-round draft pick on Wednesday. Kessler projects as Jacksonville's new backup for Blake Bortles after Chad Henne signed a two-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Su'a Cravens Reportedly Traded to Broncos from Redskins for Draft Picks
Cravens, 22, has a versatile skillset that could also allow him to play linebacker, but he is expected to be a safety for the Broncos, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing treatment for post-concussion syndrome. The 2016 second-round pick informed the team of his decision to retire last September but was placed on the reserve list instead after a discussion with management.
One Mistake Each NFL Team Must Avoid Making in the 2018 NFL Draft
The NFL draft isn't the only aspect of franchise-building, but it's perhaps the most vital. Teams often put themselves over the top with the right free-agent signings, but roster foundations—like franchise quarterbacks—are added on draft weekend. Top-tier teams don't nail every draft. However, the league's perennial bottom-dwellers are usually the same teams who screw up early picks and strategies.
Odell Beckham Jr. Rumors: Giants Want At Least 2 1st-Round Draft Picks in Trade
The New York Giants are reportedly seeking "at least" two first-round draft picks in any trade offer for superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the update Wednesday but noted it's unclear whether any interested team would be willing to pay that price. The Giants could have nipped the Beckham trade rumors in the bud several times over the past few days, but the team's brass has refused to rule out a blockbuster deal.