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Bengals Bytes (3/9): The right fit for Chris Baker

Jimmy Haslett thinks Chris Baker is back in the right fit after being in a bad fit last season.

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency: Which big-names are in play?
Every free-agent period, it’s a constant question for the Cincinnati Bengals – will they become a “player” in unrestricted free agency? It’s a fair question. The front office manages the cap well and they always have money to spend. Yet, since the current collective-bargaining agreement was struck in 2011, the Bengals have elected to spend the bulk of their cap space on their own free agents and extensions.

Cincinnati Bengals Non-Playoff Team Free Agency Targets: New York Giants
After reaching the playoffs every year from 2011-15, the Cincinnati Bengals fell short of the postseason for the second year in a row. Now they await NFL Free Agency in 2018, which could be key for them getting back in the mix. Entering the offseason, we started with a series that highlighted players from playoff teams that the Bengals could look at in free agency. Now, the focus has turned to the other teams that weren’t in the postseason.

Here’s who the 2018 NFL Draft’s top guards compared to at the combine
The Cincinnati Bengals come away from the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in a good position when it comes to needing help along the offensive line. One of those spots in need of an upgrade comes at right guard after Trey Hopkins had problems replacing Kevin Zeitler. Reserves like Christian Westerman flashed some potential, but if a guaranteed upgrade is available on draft day, the Bengals should take it.

Charges against Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd dismissed
Drug charges against Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd were dismissed in a preliminary hearing on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Boyd, 23, was charged with possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia after his vehicle was wrecked in Pittsburgh in July. Both charges were dropped.

Match-up league
Jacob Burney and Jim Haslett looked at each other. “Did you show him the tape?” Haslett asked Burney. It’s on tape. That’s why he’s here. They saw what Chris Baker could do from 2011-14 when they coached together in Washington and what he did there after they left when head coach Jay Gruden changed up his defense.

TDBH: Bengals pitch in on tornado clean-up
Leon Hall, who lives close enough on Cincinnati's East Side, is walking through what used to be a town at about high noon on the Ohio River. About a mile from where General U.S. Grant was born nearly 200 years ago and where a week ago countless of dreams die in a tornado's terrifying instant. "One day you have a place to sleep and the next you don't," Hall muses as he walks past a bombed-out house with a suitcase sticking metaphorically out of the front yard. "The place where I've stayed the last five years isn’t that far from here. Obviously, the next question that goes through your head is, 'What if it was my house?' " Hall, the starting cornerback, is one of about 30 Bengals employees from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to assistant marketing director Wade Martin to former cornerback Artrell Hawkins that pitch in with today’s relief effort.

AFC North Bytes

Baltimore’s needs outweigh drafting a QB in the first round
In his latest mock draft,’s Daniel Jeremiah has the Baltimore Ravens selecting Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield with the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Baltimore Beatdown’s Logan Levy acknowledged that Jeremiah is a former Ravens scout, so he could be onto something. Baltimore, of course, has Joe Flacco under center currently, but have many holes around the offense. Instead of drafting a quarterback in the first round, the Ravens should address an immediate need.

Derrick Shelby visited Seahawks, headed to Browns
Former Falcons defensive end Derrick Shelby spent Thursday in Seattle and now is headed to Cleveland, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. Atlanta released Shelby last week, saving the team $3.25 million.

Random Bytes

Tom Brady Raises $7.5 Million for Cancer Research by Shaving His Head
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got his head shaved Thursday as part of a $7.5 million event to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. TMZ Sports reported details of the event, which also included Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker getting his head shaved to help the cause.

Allen Robinson Is a Risky NFL Free Agent, but Well Worth the Gamble
What an NFL team sees when it looks at Allen Robinson on the open market will say more about the team than the soon-to-be free-agent wide receiver. Some general managers will close their eyes and see a field of giant red flags flapping in a stiff wind. They will pluck one of the flags and plant it on Robinson's left ACL, the one he tore in Week 1 of the 2017 season after he'd played a mere three snaps for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Winners and Losers of Broncos-Rams Trade Involving Star CB Aqib Talib
The Los Angeles Rams are getting better by the day, while the majority of NFL teams are waiting until the start of free agency to even take their first steps toward contention during the 2018 campaign. General manager Les Snead agreed to a deal Thursday with the Denver Broncos to acquire five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib for a fifth-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal won't be finalized until the start of the new league year on March 14.