Tagged in: Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers sign DT Larry Ogunjobi to one-year deal

Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday.

The Steelers did not disclose financial terms of the contract.

Ogunjobi now will have played for the Cleveland Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Baltimore Ravens as the lone AFC North team not to have had him on their roster.

Ogunjobi had also visited the New York Jets since his three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears fell apart after he failed his physical on March 18. The Bears wouldn’t say why he failed the physical, but Ogunjobi did undergo offseason surgery to repair a right foot injury.

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The Steelers had a glaring need for defensive line depth after the retirement of Stephon Tuitt earlier this offseason.

Ogunjobi will be most important in stopping the run, a major focus of the 2022 Steelers after the run defense concluded last in the league a season ago. Ogunjobi had 12 tackles for loss last season in Cincinnati and has 41 in his career.

Ogunjobi has a little history with the Steelers. He was involved in the 2019 on-field altercation between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and was suspended one game.

Last campaign, Ogunjobi was part of the overhaul that helped the Bengals go from the lowest sack total in the NFL in 2020 to 11th in 2021, registering a career-high seven, which was tied for the third most of any interior defensive lineman, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

His sack total last season was nearly half of his combined total over four seasons with the Browns (14.5).

Ogunjobi, 28, missed most of Cincinnati’s run to Super Bowl LVI after he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the wild-card victory versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Overall, the 2017 third-round draft pick has 21.5 career sacks with 229 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins to miss offseason workouts following shoulder surgery

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is expected to miss offseason workouts while he recovers from shoulder surgery, coach Zac Taylor stated Monday.

Higgins had the procedure following the team’s trip to the Super Bowl and was sporting a protective brace on his left shoulder during an appearance at the Cincinnati Reds’ home opener.

Taylor stated he expects Higgins to be out for a couple of months.

“Made a decision to get it fixed,” Taylor said. “[I] don’t expect him to be part of the offseason.”

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Higgins missed the third and fourth games of the regular campaign because of a shoulder issue.

He returned to play in every remaining game for the AFC champions, aside from the regular-season finale in which Cincinnati rested nearly all of its starters.

The team’s second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft is coming off his best season as a pro. In 14 matches, he had 74 catches for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. Higgins appeared in all four playoff games.

In the team’s Super Bowl LVI loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Higgins had four catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s first championship appearance in 33 years.

The Bengals will start offseason workouts on May 2 and hold six voluntary organized team activities. Cincinnati will not have a mandatory minicamp, Taylor said on Friday.

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Cincinnati Bengals assistant Al Golden will become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, agreeing to a three-year deal

Cincinnati Bengals assistant Al Golden has accepted the job to become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN. He’s agreed to a three-year deal, which sources say should be finalized in the upcoming days.

Golden is a longtime college head coach who gives first-year coach Marcus Freeman a veteran sounding board. Golden spent 10 years as a college head coach from 2006 to 2015, going 59-59 during stints at Temple and Miami, and brings reputation as an impactful recruiter in the Northeast.

The hire completes Marcus Freeman’s on-field coaching staff, which has included seven of 10 new assistants.

Golden’s hire represents the only staffer with significant head college coaching experience.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has some familiarity with Golden, as he interviewed him for the Notre Dame top job in 2009 after firing Charlie Weis. The Irish ended up hiring Brian Kelly, who Freeman substituted in December.

Golden, 52, has spent the past six years as an NFL assistant with the Lions and the Bengals, as he transitioned to pro football after being fired in Miami. He coached linebackers for the Bengals and was viewed as a key staff component for the franchise’s Super Bowl run.

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Golden has received interest in returning to college the past few seasons, with schools courting him as both a candidate to be a coordinator and head coach. The opportunity at Notre Dame fits Golden, a former Penn State captain from New Jersey who emerged in the profession during stints as an assistant coach at Virginia, Boston College and Penn State.

Golden went 32-25 during his five campaigns in Miami, counting a run to No. 7 in the country in 2013. Golden’s time resurrecting Temple is remembered much more fondly in college football, as he pulled off one of the great turnarounds in the modern era of the sport.

When Golden took over at Temple, the school was an independent after being kicked out of the Big East. The Owls ended up in the MAC, where they went 17-8 his final two years, and he emerged as one of the country’s most respected coaches.

Golden’s staff at Temple included both Carolina coach Matt Rhule and Ohio State coach Ryan Day, and his tenure set the foundation for both Steve Addazio and Rhule to thrive as coaches there. Golden’s work led to his induction in Temple’s Hall of Fame.

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Super Bowl preview: Rams-Bengals

When you think of a classic Super Bowl matchup, you think of two teams that have dominated their competition and run rampant through the playoffs. 

Rams vs. Bengals is not that matchup.

Both teams trailed in their respective conference championship matches as the fourth quarter started.

The Bengals needed a dramatic comeback and a spectacular self-destruction from the Chiefs to move on. The Rams blew a 24-point lead in the divisional round versus the Bucs and needed Jaquiski Tartt to drop a gift-wrapped interception to spur their win over the 49ers.

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And yet, both teams are here because their stars did star things. Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase made huge catches to set up game-winning field goals. 

Jessie Bates started the Titans game with an interception and sent the Chiefs’ offense to the sideline for the winter by creating another. Aaron Donald finished Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers career with a pressure to force a pick. Joe Burrow ducked through a sure sack to scramble for a critical first down.

These two teams have weapons on both sides of the ball that can single-handedly decide games. Winning this game, then, might come down to whichever team can diminish or even eliminate as many of those mismatches as possible.

The Bengals, helpless for most of the first half in the AFC title game, shut down Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and the entire Chiefs offense after the break.

The Rams limited the vaunted 49ers rushing attack to 50 yards on 20 carries. We know what these teams and their stars are capable of doing.

Whichever team stops more of those stars wins this game.

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Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday

The Bengals will have their top pass-rusher available for Saturday’s playoff game.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson successfully cleared the concussion protocol and will play versus the Tennessee Titans in the teams’ AFC divisional-round playoff game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday.

“He’s been in these moments before,” Taylor said in a teleconference with local reporters. “He’s one of our premier players. It’s good to have him.” Hendrickson left the team’s 26-19 wild-card-round victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 15 and entered the league’s concussion protocol.

He made progress toward returning throughout the week, starting with limited participation at Tuesday’s practice and then practicing in full on Wednesday.

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Since signing with the Bengals in the 2021 offseason on a four-year, $60 million deal, Hendrickson has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

In the 2021 season, he tallied 14 sacks, which led the team and is the most in a single season in Bengals history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. He also ranked ninth in the NFL in pass rush win rate among edge rushers during the regular season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

The return of Hendrickson boosts a defensive line that will still be short-handed against the top-seeded Titans. Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier in the week.

He left the victory over Las Vegas with a foot injury and tweeted on Thursday that he had successful surgery.

Saturday’s game against Tennessee is Cincinnati’s first divisional-round game since January 1991. The Bengals are looking to make their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since 1988.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield to have shoulder surgery ASAP, won’t play Sunday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield won’t play Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals, so that he can move forward with surgery to repair the torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield’s surgery could happen as soon as this week. A league source told ESPN that Mayfield could be back in time to participate in OTAs, which typically take place in May or June around the league.

Mayfield, who has been playing with the shoulder injury since Week 2, admitted following Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that he was “pretty damn beat up.” Mayfield was sacked nine times in the game.

“I’ve continued to lay it out on the line when I haven’t been healthy and tried to fight for our guys,” said Mayfield, who’s been playing with a harness on the shoulder to prevent it from popping out of place. “Now it’s time for me to start looking at what’s in the best interest of me and my health.”

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The Browns (7-9) were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title.

Mayfield, who quarterbacked Cleveland to its first playoff triumph in 26 years last season, has struggled since suffering the shoulder injury, ranking 26th in the league in QBR (35.2).

On Monday, he also became the first NFL quarterback since 2019 to throw 10 consecutive incompletions, and the first since 2017 to be sacked at least five times and have five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the same game.

On Tuesday, Stefanski acknowledged that the shoulder injury and harness had affected Mayfield’s performance this season, but had no regrets about not giving him an extended rest to recover at any point.

“Throughout this whole thing, we have tried to make the right decision based on all the information available to us,” Stefanski said. “Constant dialogue with our medical staff, with Baker, and throughout have really felt comfortable based on all that information that he was able to play.”

Mayfield is under contract with Cleveland through the 2022 season, with the Browns having already exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

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A.J. Green, Arizona Cardinals agree to 1-year deal

Veteran receiver A.J. Green, one of the most prolific players in franchise history over his 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, it was revealed Wednesday.

The deal is worth up to $8.5 million and includes $6 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green, who will be 33 at the beginning of next season, will fill a much-needed WR2 hole for the Cardinals and will be the complementary piece to DeAndre Hopkins that the team was seeking. Both Hopkins and Green are among the top five in receiving yards leaguewide over the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Sports & Information research.

“Time to go to work!” Hopkins tweeted Wednesday.

If Larry Fitzgerald returns for the 2021 campaign, Arizona could feature three future Hall of Fame receivers on its roster. Hopkins essentially carried Arizona’s passing game in 2020, leading the team with 1,407 receiving yards; the next-most productive receiver was Christian Kirk with 621 yards.

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Green will give third-year quarterback Kyler Murray another every-down threat, likely on the opposite side of the field from Hopkins.

Arizona ran three-wide receiver sets the most last season, accounting for 44.9% of its plays. Two-receiver sets accounted for 29.8% of the Cardinals’ plays, and they ran four-receiver sets on 20.3% of plays.

Green’s contributions with the Bengals dropped significantly over the past few seasons because of numerous injuries and apparent frustrations with his role in the offense.

He concluded last season ranked second in Bengals franchise history in career receiving yards (9,430), second in touchdowns (65) and second in total receptions (649). Green also holds the team record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games (five, 2013).

The bulk of Green’s totals, however, came during the first five years of his career. Starting with the 2016 season, the former Georgia standout battled numerous injuries. From that point onward, he missed 29 matches, including the entire 2019 season after he suffered an ankle injury in the first preseason practice.

Green played all 16 games in 2020 but had career single-season low totals of 47 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 43.9% of his targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, the lowest of any qualifying Bengals receiver last season.

He was frustrated at times last season. In Week 5 at Baltimore, Green was asked about a sideline exchange in which he appeared to indicate that if the Bengals didn’t want to use him, they should trade him. Green downplayed the interaction in subsequent interviews.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection played the 2020 season on the one-year franchise tag worth $18.2 million after the two sides failed to reach a long-term deal during the offseason.

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Brandon Allen to replace injured Joe Burrow at QB for Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen will take over for the injured Joe Burrow as the team’s starter, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Allen, who has spent the entire campaign on the practice squad, will be making his fourth career NFL start on Sunday versus the New York Giants. The other three starts came with the Denver Broncos last season.

A sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Allen was picked up by the Bengals during training camp as a contingency option due to COVID-19. He was among the team’s final preseason cuts and was added to the practice squad.

NFL Network first reported that Allen would start for the Bengals. After the Bengals selected Burrow with the top overall pick in the 2020 draft, they opted not to add another quarterback to the 53-man roster.

On Monday, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Allen filled that void because of the promotions allowed from the practice squad this season.

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“Whether he’s on the active roster or the practice squad doesn’t really matter,” Taylor said. “He’s still in the room doing that kind of stuff.”

Allen and Taylor have a familiarity with each other.

The two were with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 and 2018, when Taylor was an assistant coach. Taylor noted Allen’s experience with the team’s system when discussing the quarterback options for the rest of the season.

Burrow was placed on injured reserve Monday after he tore multiple ligaments in his left knee during last weekend’s 20-9 defeat to Washington. A timetable for Burrow’s surgery or eventual return is still uncertain.

Allen earns the nod as Cincinnati’s starter over second-year quarterback Ryan Finley. Finley, a 2019 fourth-round pick, started three games in 2019 as the Bengals evaluated their quarterback options ahead of the 2020 draft.

Finley served as the team’s primary backup quarterback the past two seasons but was 3-of-10 passing for 30 yards versus Washington.

“He’s in a tough spot there in the second half, but that’s life as a backup quarterback,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to get yourself ready to go. There’s things that I wish I could put him in a better position to get a better opportunity, but the bottom line is we didn’t get it done and weren’t able to get any points there in the second half to help us win.”

Also Wednesday, running back Giovani Bernard was held out of practice with a concussion, the team said. It wasn’t clear if he would be able to play versus the Giants. If not, the likely starter would be Samaje Perine.

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Bengals release Andy Dalton after drafting Joe Burrow

The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly released quarterback Andy Dalton on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cincy drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft last week.

Dalton threw for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2019. As the season wore on, the writing was on the wall regarding his future in Cincinnati.

The Bengals benched Dalton for their Week 10 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, which proved to be a 49-13 loss. They were 0-8 by that point, so it made sense to give Ryan Finley, the team’s fourth-round pick last year, a few starts to see if he might be Dalton’s long-term successor under center.

Following three consecutive defeats, Cincinnati turned back to Dalton for the rest of the year.

The 32-year-old spoke of how his demotion made him approach the game a little differently.

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“It feels good,” he told reporters in November. “Just as a player who has started basically every chance I’ve been able to without being hurt, it gives you a different perspective being on the other side. I’m glad to be back out playing. I feel I can help us win, so I’m excited to be going these last five games.”

The Bengals’ 33-23 victory versus Cleveland Browns in Week 17 had an air of finality. Fans cheered Dalton off the field as he walked back to the locker room, and he said after the home match he knew it might have been his last game with the team.

Cincinnati is in need of a reboot after going 2-14 in 2019. The team’s selection of Burrow was forecast for months beforehand, and now the path is clear for him to take over the starting job as a rookie.

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