Cleveland Browns: Garrett Eyes Defensive Player of the Year Award
The last time the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs, in 2002, Myles Garrett was 7 years old.
Garrett is determined to change the Browns' fortunes after signing a reported five-year, $125 million contract extension last week that makes him the NFL's highest-paid defensive player. The star defensive end is the only Cleveland first-round pick to sign a second contract with the team since Joe Haden in 2010.
Part of a talented young nucleus that includes quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Garrett believes the Browns are a legitimate threat to win the AFC North, and he's looking forward to having his best season at age 24.
Garrett had 10 sacks through 10 games in 2019, but he was suspended for the remainder of the season after his ugly altercation with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in November. Reinstated in February, Garrett says one of his goals in 2020 is to win the league's Defensive Player of the Year Award.
"Now I have to assert myself as the top dog, and I feel like I'm confident and ready to do that," Garrett said via USA Today during a Zoom video conference after signing his new deal. "Next year, I want to ball out, win that award, but I want to take my team to the playoffs and even higher than that. We have to show that this talent can come together, win some games and win big games."
The Browns are the only AFC team with both a new general manager (Andrew Berry) and new head coach (Kevin Stefanski), but Garrett likes the new culture being established. Garrett said he wasn't hesitant to sign a long-term deal with Cleveland despite their long playoff drought.
"It'll only make it so much sweeter when we turn this thing around and actually start winning big games, winning playoff games and finally get to that last one," Garrett said. "I'd like to be a part of that. I'd like to lead the pack for that. Whether it starts next year or however many years it takes, I want to lead Cleveland to that promised land."
Cincinnati Bengals: Franchise Tag Has Not Soured A.J. Green on Cincinnati
After signing his franchise tag tender last week, wide receiver A.J. Green still wants to finish his career with the Bengals. Green would like to sign another long-term deal with the only team he has ever played for, and the veteran wide receiver said he always intended to arrive at training camp on time.
"I've got the same mindset. I want to play another four years and I hope to retire as a Bengal," Green said via. NFL.com. "There were never harsh words. I understand there's a business side of it. For me, I just want to play football."
The biggest issue for Green has been staying healthy. He missed the entire 2019 season with an ankle injury and played just nine games in 2018. However, Green is a seven-time Pro Bowler who has enjoyed six 1,000-yard seasons. The Bengals hope Green will stay on the field in 2020, which would help accelerate the development of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Tomlin Wants Rookies to Make Plays, Not Excuses
This is expected to be a particularly challenging season for rookies due to the organized practice time lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is looking for rookies who embrace the challenge.
"There are a lot of reasons for an NFL rookie in 2020 to fail," Tomlin said on the team's website via ProFootballTalk.com. "I'm looking for guys who are looking to excel despite this. It might be setting themselves up for successful careers. It might not show up in terms of statistics for 2020."
The Steelers did not have a first-round pick this year, but wide receiver Chase Claypool (second round), outside linebacker Alex Highsmith (third round) and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. (fourth round) all have a chance to contribute immediately. Tomlin will be looking for those players and others to adapt quickly once training camp begins.