CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-11-1) LAST SEASON: The Bengals showed some life under rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and had some close losses in the first half. But injuries continued to mount and optimism waned even more when Burrow was lost for the season to a knee injury in a defeat against Washington in Week 11. Cincinnati put together a pair of wins on either side of Christmas, including a Monday night upset of the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers. The familiar weaknesses were evident in a rout by the Ravens in the final week. FREE AGENCY: Lost defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson, receivers A.J. Green and John Ross, cornerbacks William Jackson and Mackensie Alexander, offensive linemen Bobby Hart and B.J. Finney, TE Cethan Carter, K Randy Bullock, RB Giovani Bernard and S Shawn Williams. Signed defensive linemen Trey Hendrickson and Larry Ogunjobi, cornerbacks Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzi and Eli Apple, OL Riley Reiff and S Ricardo Allen. THEY NEED: OL, WR, DE. THEY DON’T NEED: QB, CB, S. POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Oregon OT Penei Sewell, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Florida TE Kyle Pitts. OUTLOOK: With the fifth overall pick, the Bengals are eyeing Sewell, the 2019 Outland Trophy winner. Offensive line is a clear need, and Cincinnati signed 33-year-old free agent tackle Riley Reiff to try to shore it up. If Sewell is gone or the Bengals shift gears, Pitts or Chase could provide another top playmaker for Burrow. The Bengals' biggest needs — offensive line, receiver and edge rusher — are considered the strongest positions in this year's draft. Cincinnati could opt for one of the top skill players with the first pick and still find quality offensive linemen available later in the draft, but none the calibre of Sewell. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL The Associated Press
24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-5) LAST SEASON: The Steelers ran off to the best start in franchise history (11-0) behind a resurgent performance from QB Ben Roethlisberger and one of the NFL's top defences before it all fell apart down the stretch. Pittsburgh limped to the finish, dropping five of its final six games, including a blowout loss at home to Cleveland in the opening round of the playoffs. FREE AGENCY: Lost LB Bud Dupree, RB James Conner, LT Alejandro Villanueva, OL Matt Feiler, DB Mike Hilton, LB Avery Williamson. Released CB Steven Nelson. Also, C Maurkice Pouncey and TE Vance McDonald retired. THEY NEED: OT, C, RB, TE, EDGE, ILB, QB. THEY DON’T NEED: WR, OLB, CB, K. POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Alabama RB Najee Harris, Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins, Alabama C Landon Dickerson, Wake Forest DE Carlos Basham. OUTLOOK: The Steelers are — at least in theory — gearing up for one last ride with the 39-year-old Roethlisberge. He restructured his contract to free up some money for wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who surprisingly returned on a one-year deal rather than leave in free agency. Even with no QB successor plan, Pittsburgh is likely going to do what it can to provide him with better protection and a better running game after the Steelers finished dead last in yards rushing in 2020. Harris would be tempting if available at No. 24, though the smart play would be landing Jenkins or Dickerson. Bud Dupree's exit leaves a need for fresh blood in the pass rush, but the more pressing concern is making sure Roethlisberger remains upright and effective, and every decision the team makes will be predicated on that. ___ More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL The Associated Press
Florida Atlantic University football coach Willie Taggart bolstered his coaching staff this week.