Around the AFC North: Myles Garrett Reinstated, Sticking to His Story

021720_AFCNorth

Myles Garrett's suspension is over, but the controversy surrounding the Cleveland Browns star defensive end continues.

During an interview with ESPN last week, Garrett reiterated his claim that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur during their ugly brawl on Nov. 14. After the interview, Rudolph vehemently denied Garrett's accusation again, calling it "a bold-faced lie."

Rudolph's stance has been supported by Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, who issued a statement regarding the incident over the weekend.

During the Week 11 fight that led to Garrett's suspension, he ripped Rudolph's helmet off and hit him in the head with it. The NFL investigated the incident but found no evidence that Rudolph used a racial slur. Garrett was suspended indefinitely and missed the final six games of the 2019 season before being reinstated last week (Feb. 12).

In the ESPN interview, Garrett apologized for using his helmet as a weapon and said there was no justification for it.

"It was idiotic, foolish, it was childish on both parts, but it was childish of me," Garrett said, "and I apologize for attempting to injure him because I would never in my right mind try to do something like that."

The Browns are coming off a disappointing season (6-10) and are looking to turn the page with new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and new General Manager Andrew Berry. However, Garrett's interview sparked more questions about what was said, or wasn't said, during the Browns-Steelers brawl.

Steelers: GM Thinks Big Ben Has Plenty Left

The 2004 NFL draft featured three quarterbacks who enjoyed long and successful careers – Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Manning won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and recently announced his retirement. Rivers plans to play next season, but he's an impending free agent and his 16-year run with the Chargers is over, coming off a season in which Rivers threw 20 interceptions.

However, the nearly 38-year-old Roethlisberger remains firmly entrenched as the Steelers' franchise quarterback.

Roethlisberger only played two games last year before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery, but General Manager Kevin Colbert is counting on Roethlisberger to return next season and beyond. Colbert doesn't think it's fair to compare Roethlisberger to Manning or Rivers at this stage of their careers.

"The only correlation is all three players were drafted in the same year," Colbert said via the team's website. "We're just really focused on where Ben is at this point. Unfortunately, he had a season-ending injury that we think he can and will recover from. Optimistically, he is on schedule to return, and we hope to return a better Ben than he was previous to the injury."

Bengals: Trade Rumors Involving Andy Dalton Increase

With the Cincinnati Bengals expected to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1-overall pick, Andy Dalton's days in Cincinnati seem numbered. Dalton has been the Bengals' starting quarterback since being drafted in 2011, but he was temporarily benched last season and the Bengals had the NFL's worst record (2-14).

NBC Sports insider Peter King believes Dalton could be traded to the New England Patriots if Tom Brady joins another team during free agency.

"Dalton, by the way, would be my pick to start in New England next year if Brady goes," King wrote in his Football Morning in America column. "(Bill) Belichick would love Dalton. He's a quiet, intense lunchpail Texan who makes no excuses. And Dalton would embrace the Patriots ethos." 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Bengals are willing to work with Dalton to find a team that he wants to be traded to.

After nine seasons with the Bengals, including some memorable games against the Ravens, it appears Dalton is on the verge of moving elsewhere.

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