Presented by

Around the AFC North: Kenny Pickett Works With Steelers Receivers in Florida

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) scrambles in front of Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Taven Bryan (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett Building Chemistry With Receivers in Florida

Quarterback Kenny Pickett and other Steelers are getting a head start in preparing for next season.

Personal quarterbacks coach Tony Racioppi and others posted pictures of Pickett working out and throwing to receivers Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Connor Heyward and Steven Sims in South Florida over the weekend.

Pickett is also getting in plenty of strength and conditioning work.

The Steelers ended the season with momentum last season, winning their last four games and six of their last seven to finish 9-8. However, Pittsburgh reached 30 points just once all season and Pickett threw more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven) as a rookie despite showing a knack for engineering late-game drives.

Pittsburgh's fortunes for next season will hinge significantly on how much Pickett improves from Year 1 to Year 2. He's taking a proactive approach to building chemistry by doing extra offseason work with some of his key targets.

Cincinnati Bengals: Free Agent Jessie Bates Reportedly Eyeing Falcons

After playing under the franchise tag in 2022, Bengals safety Jessie Bates could soon become a free agent in March, and speculation has begun that Bates will be signing with the Falcons.

Bates was spotted in Atlanta having dinner recently with Falcons players Kyle Pitts, A.J. Terrell, and Casey Hayward, who like Bates are clients of agent David Mulugheta.

The Bengals and Bates have been unable to reach agreement on a new deal for more than a year, and Cincinnati drafted safety Dax Hill in the first round last year. With the Bengals hoping to sign quarterback Joe Burrow to a long-term deal this offseason, having the salary cap flexibility to also re-sign Bates will be difficult.

After spending five seasons with the Bengals, Bates sounded like a player who knew change was coming after Cincinnati's loss to Kansas City in the AFC Championship.

"I was drafted here, I became a man here," Bates said via Jay Morrison of The Athletic. "I gave it my all. I know my teammates gave me their all. It's just the love I have for these men in this locker room that makes it so hard."

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson Wants to Be 'Coached Hard' By Alex Van Pelt

Alex Van Pelt, who was Cleveland's offensive coordinator last season, will be adding the role of quarterbacks coach in 2023, according to Mary Kay Cabot of

Former quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing left Cleveland to become Arizona's offensive coordinator, but Van Pelt has an established rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson. Stefanski will remain Cleveland's offensive play caller and Watson said he liked the chemistry he built with Stefanski and Van Pelt last season.

"I trust Kevin, and AVP is still going to be in the room," Watson said on a radio show last week with his personal quarterbacks coach, Quincy Avery. "Being able to have two guys that understand what I want, that ask me questions, that are very transparent … I just want somebody that's a great teacher, that I can learn from.

"I'm one of the guys I love to be coached hard. I like a coach that gets on my (a—) about a certain drill or certain play or things like that. A pat on the back or 'we'll get it next time,' that's not really me. I like to be coached hard because I know how great I am. I know my standard. So being able to have that in the room is definitely going to be key. I haven't talked to Kevin personally. I'm supposed to be calling him soon to try to figure out the coaching situation. But I know whoever they get, that's what I want is a great teacher that I can learn from."

Related Content