Around the AFC North: Browns Make Offseason Splash – Again

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Austin Hooper and  Jack Conklin in action during an NFL game.

Browns: Hooper Excited to Join Talented Offense

Making splashy offseason moves has become a habit for the Cleveland Browns.

The recent free agent signings of Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper and right tackle Jack Conklin add even more firepower to Cleveland's offense. Hooper is a two-time Pro Bowler who has averaged 75 catches the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Conklin was part of a Tennessee Titans offensive line last season that created running lanes for Derrick Henry, the NFL's leading rusher (1,540 yards).

The Browns were a popular preseason pick to win the AFC North in 2019 after adding Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt last offseason, but they finished with a disappointing 6-10 record which forced them to regroup.

With a new general manager (Andrew Berry) and new head coach (Kevin Stefanski), the Browns are not standing pat. Cleveland has a versatile group of weapons on offense featuring quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receivers Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Hunt at running back, and Hooper and David Njoku at tight end. All of them are 27 years old or younger.

"The amount of talent on this team, it just really excites me," Hooper said in a statement released by the Browns.

The Browns' acquisition of Hooper indirectly impacted the Ravens. When the Falcons lost Hooper they immediately shopped for a replacement and acquired former Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst in a trade that brought another second-round pick to Baltimore.

Mayfield has been given another reliable target in Hooper, plus an offensive lineman who will help protect the quarterback and could improve the Browns' pass-blocking and run-blocking. Once again, the Browns have created offseason buzz, hoping it leads to better regular season results in 2020.

Bengals: What's Next for Andy Dalton?

It has been widely assumed that long-time Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will be moving on, with Cincinnati expected to take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the draft. However, as of Monday morning, the Bengals had not found a trade partner for Dalton who still has one year remaining on his contract.

In his Football Morning in America column, Peter King of NBC Sports reported that the amount of money owed to Dalton in the final year of his contract has become a sticking point in trade talks.

"I keep hearing no one will trade for Andy Dalton and pay him $17 million this year in the last year of his deal," King wrote. "If he's on the street, Dalton at $7 million for a year in New England makes the most sense to me. Hard to see Dalton going unloved, but he fits New England either short term or long term the best. I still expect the Patriots, after signing Brian Hoyer on Sunday, to look into signing a veteran."

This has been an active offseason for veteran quarterbacks. But, while Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers have found new homes, Dalton is still looking for one.

Steelers: Roethlisberger Throws Without Pain, Scoffs at Concern About His Weight

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continued to give positive updates on his recovery from elbow surgery last week, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he was throwing without pain.

Roethlisberger is aware that some people have suggested he looks out of shape after watching videos of him throwing on social media. However, Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette that he's not worried about his conditioning.

"I've heard people say I'm fat and that just blows my mind," Roethlisberger said. "I'm lighter and in better shape than I was in either of the last two years. I haven't stopped working out. I normally don't work out in the offseason, but I've been doing everything five days a week with my trainer. I guess it's my beard that makes me look heavier."

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