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Around the AFC North: Bengals Say They Aren't Trading Tee Higgins

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) catches a pass and runs against the Tennessee Titans in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Here's the top news about the AFC North from the Combine last week:

Cincinnati Bengals: Not Trading Tee Higgins, Apparently

There's been a lot of buzz about the potential for the Bengals to trade wide receiver Tee Higgins this offseason before he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

Bengals Director of Player Personnel Duke Tobin threw cold water on that notion at the Combine, however.

"If they want a receiver, go find your own," Tobin told reporters. "In my opinion, Tee Higgins is a good piece for the Cincinnati Bengals. The trade stuff is a little ridiculous right now."

Higgins has averaged more than 1,000 yards in his three seasons in Cincinnati and gives the Bengals a dangerous duo with Ja'Marr Chase. The Bengals could part ways with veteran wide receiver Tyler Boyd, and would save $8.9 million by cutting him.

Higgins has just a $4 million cap hit in 2023 and the Bengals feel they're in strong position to contend for another Super Bowl next season.

"That's why whenever you see the rumors floating around there, it's nonsense," Head Coach Zac Taylor said. "At the end of the day, I do get to call the plays and it's fun having [playmakers] out there. You don't really want to give that up."

Cleveland Browns: Could Nick Chubb Be Traded?

The Browns are in a salary-cap crunch with quarterback Deshaun Watson having a nearly $55 million cap hit this season.

Tough decisions are going to have to be made, and Football Outsiders included trading top running back Nick Chubb among its bold offseason predictions.

Chubb's cap hit triples to $15 million this season, yet at 27 years old he is still in his prime. Chubb ran for 1,525 yards last season, the third-most in the NFL, and has been Cleveland's most consistent offensive weapon for years.

"Losing an All-Pro-caliber player such as Chubb wasn't supposed to be part of the Watson deal but barring a major turnaround in the disgraced passer's play, it may be the only way forward," wrote Football Outsiders' Robert Weintraub.

SBNation’s Jared Mueller wrote that it's unlikely because the Browns are expected to lose running backs Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson in free agency, making Chubb even more valuable to Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A Top WR Wants to Reunite with Kenny Pickett

USC's Jordan Addison is expected to be one of the first wide receivers drafted this year and has been one of the many mocked to Baltimore.

However, Addison has his eyes on a reunion with his former college quarterback, Kenny Pickett.

"Hey man, if we reunite, that'd be good," Addison said at the Combine Friday. "That'd be real cool. Real easy transition. Come get me."

In 2021, Addison had 100 catches for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns with Pickett as the two teamed up at Pitt. Pickett went on to be a first-round pick and Addison transferred to USC for his final season.

Teams have seen how the college connection between the Bengals' Joe Burrow and Chase has paid off in their chemistry. Might more teams look for quarterback-receiver college duos?

"I think you're always looking at things like that, but given the offseason that you have and the time guys spend together, I think the transition of new receivers trying to get acclimated to quarterbacks is not a hard process," Steelers General Manager Omar Khan said. "But Jordan Addison, he's a really good football player."

The Steelers already have wide receivers Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, so spending a first-round pick on a wide receiver would seem unlikely.

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