ITEM: Former No. 1 pick Rivers traded
Rumored earlier in the week, the trade of former first-round pick Keith Rivers was made official on April 11, according to a report by NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora. The Cincinnati Bengals sent Rivers to the New York Giants in return for a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The ninth overall pick in 2008, Rivers became expendable when the Bengals re-signed Manny Lawson last week because both play the same outside linebacker position. Rivers had been a starter for the Bengals whenever he was healthy, but he missed 13 games in his first three seasons with various injuries and then missed the entire 2011 season with a wrist injury.
The fifth-round pick the Bengals acquired is the 167th overall. Cincinnati will pick three times late in the fifth round: They also have their own fifth-round pick (No. 156) and the Patriots' fifth-round pick (No. 166).
ITEM: Bengals sign Newman, 2 linemen
The courtship lasted for some time, and the Bengals closed the deal to bring cornerback Terence Newman to the team on April 11, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newman was a starter there for each of his nine seasons with the team. But after a drop-off in performance in 2011, the Cowboys released Newman and signed free agent Brandon Carr to play his position.
Coach Marvin Lewis has said he thinks Newman is a great fit for Cincinnati, because Newman was at his best in Dallas when playing for Mike Zimmer, now the Bengals' defensive coordinator.
Cornerback has been a priority for the Bengals, what with Leon Hall trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Cincinnati also signed Jason Allen and brought back Adam Jones.
Also, the Bengals officially announced the signing of guard Jacob Bell at the same time they revealed they had re-signed tackle Dennis Roland.
Roland spent most of 2009 and 2010 as the Bengals' starting right tackle, but he struggled in pass protection and lost the job to Andre Smith last season. He then served as a swing tackle and also saw action as an extra tight end.
The Bengals have added Bell and Travelle Wharton to their offensive line this offseason. Starting guard Nate Livings left for Dallas as a free agent.
ITEM: Ravens plan to use draft for depth
"Like a lot of positions; we feel like we could use some depth at (safety)," Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta told Garrett Downing last week. "I think this is a depth draft for the Ravens."
Baltimore lost both Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski to free agency, and that has created a need in the defensive backfield, and some mock drafts have the Ravens addressing that spot in the first round.
The two players generally regarded as the best prospects at safety are Alabama's Mark Barron and Notre Dame's Harrison Smith.
"Mark Barron is a great player," DeCosta said. "We've had a chance to see him, again, because he's an Alabama player. We've seen him a lot on TV, live games – just a great player. Harrison Smith will probably come off sometime between the end of the first round and probably midway through end of the second round."
Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun speculated recently that the Ravens might choose to target wide receiver with their No. 1 pick.
"But the most intriguing receiver who might be there or close to where the Ravens draft in the first round (29th overall) is Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill," wrote Preston. "He is 6-4 and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash, which makes him the perfect complement to Torrey Smith at the other outside receiver position …
"The Ravens have virtually no shot at Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon or Notre Dame's Michael Floyd in the first round, but Hill, LSU's Rueben Randle or Rutgers's Mohamed Sanu could be first- or second- round targets. The Ravens might move up a couple of spots to get Hill. All three are tall, and could replace veteran Anquan Boldin after next season."
ITEM: Danielson believes teams need a franchise QB
In a recent interview with Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson said winning in the NFL is tied directly to the caliber of a team's starting quarterback.
"The way the league is structured now you cannot win without a franchise quarterback," said Danielson, who once played the position for the Browns. "That thing gets stretched a little bit. What is a franchise quarterback? I don't think you try to make one up. But if you believe in a guy, it doesn't matter what you pay to get him. I don't believe you can draft him too quickly or pay him too much."
Because he frequently works SEC games, Danielson has seen a lot of Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, who is the best quarterback prospect available to the Browns in the draft. Grossi wrote that if the Browns pass up Tannehill at No. 4, they will commit to Colt McCoy for another season.
Danielson said, "I think Tannehill is superior to the kid Cincinnati took last year, (Andy) Dalton."
Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011, started all 16 games for the 9-7 Bengals and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
"If you'd asked me prior to the draft, which college quarterback in the past 10 years most reminds me of Bernie Kosar, it's Tannehill," Danielson said. "It's his toughness, he's a little unorthodox, and he's as competitive as I've ever seen.
"Tannehill, you have to commit to him," continued Danielson. "He doesn't look like a natural, like he was born to be John Elway. I don't care how pretty you throw it. At that position, if you're not tough and competitive you have no chance. Now, you have to have other skills, and he does. But he's definitely 10 for 10 in toughness and competitiveness."