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Around the AFC North: Keeping His Top Weapons Is 'Focal Point' of Joe Burrow Negotiations 

From left: QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins and WR Ja'Marr Chase
From left: QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins and WR Ja'Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow Wants Contract That Allows Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase to Stay

Joe Burrow wants a new contract, but he also wants to keep his top two weapons, wide receivers Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase.

The Bengals' franchise quarterback made his first offseason comments about his ongoing contract negotiations last week. Burrow made it clear he wants to give the Bengals financial flexibility to re-sign Higgins and Chase for the foreseeable future. Higgins is eligible to become a free agent after next season, while Chase can begin negotiations on a new deal next offseason.

"Whenever you have guys on the team that need to be paid, that's always on your mind," Burrow said via Ben Baby of "You want that to be a focal point. We're working to make that happen.

"You got to have good players. It doesn't matter how good your quarterback is. If you don't have good players around him, you're not going to be a very good team."

Earlier this offseason, Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin shot down rumors that the Bengals might be forced to trade Higgins. Burrow, Higgins and Chase all participated last week in the Bengals' offseason activities and Burrow's comments made Higgins optimistic about remaining in Cincinnati.

"We talk about staying together for the long run," Higgins said. "Hopefully we can do that and get something negotiated to where they can keep all three of us."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben Admits Watching Kenny Pickett Take Over Was Difficult

After 18 seasons as the Steelers' starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger admits he didn't want Kenny Pickett to catch fire immediately as a rookie quarterback last season.

"I'll be completely honest, I'll be super transparent here and I'm gonna get blasted," Roethlisberger said on his podcast, "Footbahlin with Ben Roethlisberger," where Pickett was a guest. "I probably shouldn't say this, but who cares at this point. I wouldn't say that I wanted Kenny to necessarily fail, but when someone comes to replace you, I still feel like I had it, I hope he doesn't come ball out. Because then it's like, Ben who?"

Roethlisberger said his attitude changed after watching Pickett play a few games.

"As you started playing, I found myself rooting more and more for you," Roethlisberger said. "I wanted you to succeed, I wanted you to win games, I wanted you to go in the playoffs. I feel bad that I felt that early on but I'm glad I transitioned to loving and rooting for you."

Pickett was good-natured about Roethlisberger's comments and was glad to have the retired quarterback's support as enters his second season.

"It means the world," Pickett said.

Cleveland Browns: Rookie Receiver Cedric Tillman Should Be Targeted Frequently During OTAs

The Browns didn't have a draft pick until Round 3 and used their first selection on wide receiver Cedric Tillman from Tennessee. Cleveland plans to give Tillman plenty of work at minicamp with No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper still recovering from core muscle surgery.

Tillman caught 64 passes for 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, but his stats dropped dramatically last season (37 catches, 417 yards, three touchdowns) when he played just six games due to a high ankle sprain. But at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, Tillman is Cleveland's biggest receiver, and the Browns believe that size will make him a valuable target for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

"I think Cedric does possess those dominant traits, size, ability to go get the football," Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said via the Akron Beacon Journal. "I think Cedric fits the bill."

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