Cleveland Browns: Owner Jimmy Haslam Expects Playoffs in 2023
The Browns finished 7-10 last season and have only made the playoffs once since 2003.
Owner Jimmy Haslam said there's a sense of urgency heading into next season, with quarterback Deshaun Watson entering the second year of his reported five-year $230 million fully guaranteed contract. Haslam said at the NFL Owners Meetings that he expects Cleveland to reach the postseason in 2023.
"I think that we have expectations to go to the playoffs," Haslam said via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. "I'm not going to say if we don't make the playoffs, X, Y, Z happens because that'll be the headline tomorrow. Listen, the AFC is tough. You've all been around. Our division is tough."
Even with Watson missing the first 11 games in 2022 while serving his NFL suspension, Haslam thought the Browns should have fared better.
"Deshaun missing 11 games, however you want to say it. We were all disappointed — very disappointed," Haslam said. "I'm just repeating myself. We've got high standards so we expect to do better."
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and General Manager Andrew Berry are entering their fourth seasons in Cleveland, and Haslam said his faith in their abilities had not wavered.
"You have to realize this, Kevin just turned 40," Haslam said. "Andrew is 35. They're now entering into their fourth year into the job and we spend a lot of time with these guys. We've seen them grow. Kevin had never even been a coordinator for one year when we hired him. So he hadn't had a lot of experience in what I'll call management. I think he's learned and grown tremendously over the last two or three years.
"We feel good about Kevin, feel good about him coming into the season, feel good about Andrew. You need to have some breaks and not have too many injuries. The ball bounces your way and you win games. But everybody understands how important that is."
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon's Future Remains Uncertain
The Bengals have a decision to make on veteran running back Joe Mixon, who is due to earn a reported $12.6 million next season under his current contract.
Cincinnati is trying to reach long-term agreements with quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins, and releasing Mixon with a post-June 1 designation would provide Cincinnati with over $10 million in cap space according to Pro Football Talk.
Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn said at the Owners Meetings that a decision on Mixon had not been reached. He is still only 26 years old and is coming off another strong season with 814 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, while also catching a career-high 60 passes for 441 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's done a lot of great things for the team," Blackburn said via Geoff Hobson of cincinnatibengals.com. "I think he's still got a lot of great production in him. There is a whole myriad of things that can happen. And I don't want to imply that anything is going to happen or not going to happen because it all can depend on so many other things. It's a big jigsaw puzzle and you put one piece in and maybe that changes the way you see another piece. So we just have to wait and see how things play out."
Pittsburgh Steelers: Keanu Neal Reportedly Signs to Strengthen Safety Rotation
Veteran safety Keanu Neal has reportedly agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His agent, David Cantor, announced the news over the weekend via social media.
Neal is expected to compete with Damontae Kazee for a starting position opposite Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Injuries have hampered Neal since his Pro Bowl season in 2017. He played just one game in 2018 and three games in 2019, however, he bounced back last season to play all 17 games with the Buccaneers, finishing with 63 tackles and one interception.
The Steelers also signed veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson earlier this month, and he could also see snaps at safety. With Fitzpatrick, Peterson and Neal, the Steelers will have a wealth of experience on the back end.