Around the AFC North: Baker Mayfield Putting in Work With Receivers

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QB Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns: Receivers Join Mayfield for Off-Season Workouts in Florida

After making the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the Browns aren't resting on that accomplishment.

Browns fans were delighted to see recent videos on social media of quarterback Baker Mayfield throwing to teammates Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Kyle Markway.

Other Browns have been training together in Florida, including running back Kareem Hunt, safety Grant Delpit and 2021 draft picks Anthony Schwartz and Richard LeCounte.

It's the kind of commitment General Manager Andrew Berry and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski are looking for as they continue to change Cleveland's culture. The Browns recently exercised the fifth-year contract option on Mayfield, locking him up through 2022, and expectation increases that Cleveland will eventually sign him to a long-term deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Smith-Schuster Doesn't Regret Trash-Talking Browns Before Playoffs

The Steelers' 2020 season ended sooner than expected when they were defeated, 48-37, by the Browns on Wild-Card Weekend. It was particularly humbling for Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who talked dismissively of the Browns' chances to leave Pittsburgh with a playoff victory.

"The Browns is the Browns," Smith-Schuster said in January. "I'm just happy we're playing them again this Sunday."

Smith-Schuster said on ProFootballTalk that he doesn't regret making the statement, but admitted it probably motivated the Browns.

"Probably a lot, honestly," Smith-Schuster said. "I'm not going to lie to you. It got to a point where the Cleveland Browns had a billboard up in Cleveland that said, 'The Browns is the Browns.' I think by me saying that, it says that a lot of people care about what I say.

"I said what I said. I don't take anything back. They did come out there, they did whoop our ass."

Smith-Schuster sees the AFC North as being the NFL's toughest division in 2021, largely due to the starting quarterbacks.

"Guys like Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Ben (Roethlisberger)," Smith-Schuster said. "I think every team is getting to the point where it's like, 'Man, they're really good.' It is what it is.'"

Cincinnati Bengals: Pressure On Head Coach After Draft Decision

During his final press conference before the Bengals drafted wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5-overall pick, Head Coach Zac Taylor said he was looking for an impact player.

"We feel like we're going to get a premier player that can come in and help us win immediately," Taylor said via cincyjungle.com.

However, debate will continue about whether the Bengals should have taken Chase or offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who went No. 7 to the Detroit Lions. Taylor enters the 2021 season with a 6-25-1 record during his two years as head coach, and another poor season could have dire consequences for him.

NBC Sports' Peter King wrote that the Bengals made an understandable decision, but a risky one, to take Chase instead of an offensive tackle who could have helped protect Burrow.

"They better be right on Ja'Marr Chase," King wrote. "I like the decision – if second-round offensive lineman Jackson Carman can develop into a long-term starter at guard or tackle that the Bengals desperately need. But if Joe Burrow gets hurt again, well, the Bengals will be second-guessing themselves."

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