Artie Burns

Bears, CB Artie Burns Agree To Terms

Artie Burns will have another chance to be part of a North-division team’s cornerback rotation. The Bears and Burns agreed to a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms (on Twitter).

The 2016 first-round pick played just 67 snaps in his final Steelers season, after falling to justify the franchise’s investment. Pittsburgh did not pick up Burns’ fifth-year option in 2019, sending him to free agency this year.

An ex-Miami Hurricane, Burns will join a Bears team that moved on from Prince Amukamara last month. Burns started 32 games as a Steeler, including 16 in 2017. Despite producing a respectable Pro Football Focus grade that season, Burns lost his job during the 2018 season and saw the team make multiple additions at the position last year. As a result, this will likely be a low-cost prove-it deal.

In addition to All-Pro Kyle Fuller and slot defender Buster Skrine, third-year UDFA Kevin Toliver and 2019 sixth- and seventh-round picks Duke Shelley and Stephen Denmark reside among Chicago’s corner cadre. The Burns move may not be the Bears’ last at this position this offseason they attempt to replace Amukamara.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Landry, Steelers

A change of plans for Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Initially, Landry said he would go the rest-and-rehab route for his lingering hip issue. Instead, he went under the knife recently to correct the problem, per a team announcement.

The Browns expect Landry to make a full recovery for the 2020 season, so this shouldn’t impact their plans very much. And, even though there’s a new regime in Cleveland, Landry (and Odell Beckham Jr.) are expected to remain in the fold, giving Kevin Stefanski as many offensive weapons as possible.

Landry, 28 in November, played through the pain in all 16 games last year. In fact, he’s never missed a game in his six-year career. The LSU product – who finished out with 83 catches, 1,174 yards, and six touchdowns – has three years to on his five-year, $75.5MM deal.

More from the AFC North:

  • Even after inking nine contract extensions over the past year, the Ravens could have more on the way. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic looked at the club’s remaining extension candidates, including outside linebacker Matt Judon and defensive tackle Michael Pierce. Center Matt Skura hasn’t been talked about as much, but he could also be in line for a fresh deal as he nears unrestricted free agency. The former UDFA gave the Ravens consistent play in the middle up until his major knee injury in November. The injury might complicate things a bit, but he expects to be back in time for training camp.
  • Alex Van Pelt is the Browns‘ new offensive coordinator, but he’s not sure if he’ll be the one calling the plays (via WKYC). That responsibility could be kept by Stefanski, who previously donned the headset for the Vikings.
  • Steelers cornerback Artie Burns has switched to Drew Rosenhaus, as Liz Mullen of SBJ tweets. Burns, a former first-round pick who had his fifth-year option declined by the team, will be a free agent in March. In 2019, he appeared in just ten games and started only once.
  • Another pending Steelers free agent – linebacker Bud Dupree – will be switching representation (Twitter link via Mullen). For now, all we know is that Dupree is parting ways with CAA. In the next few days, we should know who his agent will be. Dupree’s stock is pretty high after he registered 11.5 sacks in 2019, though the Steelers could cuff him with the franchise tag.

North Notes: Steelers, Burnett, Lions

If you’ve missed the latest Thursday-night game, injuries have limited the Steelers. Pittsburgh lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner; the former suffered a concussion and the latter re-injured the AC joint that sidelined him for the past two games. Both are out for the rest of the Browns game, as are cornerback Artie Burns and wideout Diontae Johnson (due to a knee injury and a concussion, respectively). This is Smith-Schuster’s third known concussion since coming into the league. He suffered two as a rookie in 2017.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Both of the Browns‘ starting safeties are out of tonight’s game. Shortly before Damarious Randall was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit, the Browns lost Morgan Burnett. The ex-Packers and Steelers defender suffered what the Browns fear is a significant Achilles injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). After being relegated to a part-time role in his one Pittsburgh season, Burnett has been a full-time starter in Cleveland.
  • The NFL is looking into the Lions‘ handling of Matthew Stafford‘s back injury, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes. Multiple Lions players were informed Saturday that Stafford would not play, but Detroit had called the quarterback a game-time decision. Stafford has been playing through back pain all season. The league requires teams to update their injury reports if it has been decided, prior to a team’s stadium arrival, a player will not play.
  • With Michael Pierce battling an injury, the Ravens bolstered their defensive tackle corps with two veteransDomata Peko and Justin Ellis.

AFC North Notes: Burns, Young, Browns

Steelers CB Artie Burns, a 2016 first-round pick, was widely considered to be on the club’s roster bubble this summer, and even after he earned an $800K roster bonus at the end of July, there was still some chatter that he could be sent packing. But as Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes, Burns has quieted those rumors with a strong training camp, and he excelled in Pittsburgh’s preseason contest against the Chiefs on Saturday. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020 since the Steelers declined his fifth-year option, and his contract year has gotten off to a great start. He now has a legitimate chance to be the team’s No. 3 corner.

Now for more from the AFC North:

  • Kaboly notes in a separate piece that the Steelers may be on the lookout for a veteran TE and/or punter on the free agent market.
  • Ravens slot corner Tavon Young may miss the entire 2019 campaign due to a serious neck injury, but Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Young is still weighing his options with respect to surgery (Twitter link). Initial reports suggested that Baltimore believes Young should get surgery, which would likely allow him to return at full-strength for the 2020 season, but Young remains undecided. If he doesn’t get surgery and allows the injury to heal on its own, he could potentially return in 2019, but if the injury doesn’t heal, he may miss some of 2020. Either way, he will almost certainly open this season on IR.
  • Ravens guard Marshal Yanda is dealing with an ankle/foot injury and will not play in either of the club’s remaining preseason games, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets. However, HC John Harbaugh expects the seven-time Pro Bowler to be ready to go for Week 1.
  • Garrett Gilbert played well in the Browns‘ preseason victory over the Colts on Saturday, but head coach Freddie Kitchens foreclosed any potential chatter of a QB2 battle by declaring that Drew Stanton will be the club’s backup QB (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). Still, Cabot writes that Gilbert’s performance likely earned the AAF alumnus a spot on the roster.
  • Jaelen Strong was signed by the Browns in February, and he has played well over the past several weeks. He found the endzone in Saturday’s game, and Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that the former Texans’ third-rounder is closing in on a roster spot (Twitter link).

Steelers Notes: Colbert, Tomlin, Burns, Haden

The Steelers staved off questions about Mike Tomlin’s job status, at least temporarily, by giving him a one-year extension recently. They didn’t do the same for GM Kevin Colbert, and that was apparently at his request. Colbert told reporters at training camp today that “he’s not getting an extension because he wanted to go year-to-year based on ‘personal request’ to organization,” per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fowler notes that Colbert is only under contract until May of 2020, and that the GM said his age could be a factor in whether or not he steps away. Colbert, 62, has been Pittsburgh’s front office head since 2010.

This is the first we’ve heard of any potential retirement for Colbert, so as Fowler points out, this is a “big development.” Steelers owner Art Rooney chimed in, saying “at this stage of the game, he’s really not looking to do any long-term planning,” per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We talked and we agreed he’d rather wait till after the season to talk about the contract.” Fowler noted in a follow-up tweet that Colbert indicated he could still be around for several more years, but he’s got “wiggle room” now. The Steelers have undergone a lot of change the last couple of years, and this would be another huge one.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Tomlin’s job security has been a hot topic in recent years, and he’s one of the more polarizing coaches out there. He usually receives two-year extensions, so it was notable that this time around he only got one. When asked what he thought about that, Tomlin insisted it didn’t matter to him. “Nothing,” he told reporters, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “I really don’t think a lot about it to be quite honest with you. I focus on the task at hand, and if you do that, contractual things take care of themselves.” Tomlin has been the coach since 2007, but he’ll be under intense pressure to win in 2019. If the Steelers struggle, his seat will start getting awfully hot.
  • Tomlin’s old contract had an option year that was triggered due to hitting a certain number of wins, Dulac tweets. A source told Dulac that Tomlin’s new recently signed contract doesn’t have any similar provisions.
  • The Steelers don’t only have to worry about the contract situation of their coach and general manager, some players need to be decided on as well. Pittsburgh didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Artie Burns back in May, which led to a lot of speculation that he’d be cut. Burns was due an $800K roster bonus this weekend, so a decision was always going to have to be made right around now. Burns will in fact collect the $800K and he’ll be a member of the Steelers in 2019, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Burns hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but he did start six games last year and all 16 the year before that.
  • In the same tweet, La Canfora notes that the team is “working on extending” cornerback Joe Haden. Haden is entering the final year of the three-year, $27MM deal he signed after being released by the Browns back in 2017, and we heard a couple of days ago that the two sides had begun talking.

AFC North Notes: Jackson, Steelers, Bengals

The RavensLamar Jackson interest began before his junior year at Louisville. It escalated a few weeks before the 2018 draft. During a disagreement among Ravens staffers regarding quarterback preferences going into a draft that would have five QBs taken in the first round, John Harbaugh pronounced his willingness to build a new offense around the dual-threat passer.

If we draft Lamar, I’m good with that,” Harbaugh said during an hours-long discussion about Jackson (via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei, subscription required). “We can build an offense around him. We’ll play great special teams, great defense and be a ball-control offense. We’ll build a big, physical offensive line. We’ll get physical running backs. We’ll block on the perimeter. We’ll run all the elements of the college offense. We’ll do something different.”

After choosing Jackson, the Ravens rode some of Greg Roman‘s Colin Kaepernick-based concepts to a division title. Harbaugh, Roman and then-OC Marty Mornhinweg considered going back to Joe Flacco when the Ravens’ offense stalled for much of their wild-card loss to the Chargers, but each of Harbaugh’s assistants agreed Jackson gave the team the best chance to win. As for the Ravens’ 2019 offense, it will feature similar run designs to what was used last season. But Pompei adds the passing attack was considerably revamped in the offseason.

I expect this to change the way offensive football is played in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “Not that everybody is going to take on this style. But I expect us to create something that hasn’t been seen before. … I think we’re going to be in more elements than any team has ever been.”

Here is the latest from the AFC North, shifting first to Pittsburgh:

  • This weekend, Artie Burns is due an $800K bonus. If the Steelers are to move on from the former first-round pick who has not lived up to that billing, they would stand to limit their losses by doing so soon. Burns’ camp, however, is confident the fourth-year corner will still be a Steeler by week’s end, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Pittsburgh still has Joe Haden and Mike Hilton and added UFA addition Steven Nelson and third-round pick Justin Layne.
  • A hamstring injury will move T.J. Watt to the Steelers’ active/PUP list, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. The Pro Bowl outside linebacker should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • The Bengals placed Darqueze Dennard and running back Rodney Anderson on their active/PUP list. Dennard underwent offseason knee surgery, while Anderson’s college career ended after an ACL tear. The former Oklahoma running back is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list to start the season, per Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Should Anderson stay on the PUP list to start the season, he must remain there for six regular-season weeks.

Release Candidate: Artie Burns

The Steelers surprised their fair share of draft pundits when they selected Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, and Burns has not done much to prove his doubters wrong over his first three seasons in the league. His strongest season was his rookie campaign, when he notched three interceptions despite starting just nine games.

He could not build on that performance, though, and he struggled with coverage in 2017 and lost his starting job in 2018, appearing primarily on special teams in the second half of the season. Pittsburgh has not had great success in drafting quality corners in recent history, and as of right now, Burns looks like another example of those difficulties.

The Steelers’ decision to not exercise Burns’ 2020 option was something of a no-brainer, given that it would have been worth just shy of $10MM and would have been guaranteed for injury. And earlier this month, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic opined that the club may cut Burns before it’s required to pay him an $800K roster bonus on the first day of training camp.

However, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic suggested just a few days ago that if the Steelers haven’t cut Burns yet, they are likely to keep him around this year. Kaboly did note his belief that 2019 would be Burns’ last hurrah in Pittsburgh.

But just by looking at the financials, it would seem that Bouchette’s take on the situation may be more accurate. If the Steelers cut Burns prior to training camp, they would not only save the $800K roster bonus, but they would also create roughly $1.8MM of cap space. That is not an insignificant amount for Pittsburgh, which currently has just over $1MM of cap room. Although the team has wrapped up its 2019 draft class, it will certainly need to create more space at some point just to conduct regular business during the season, and their already small amount of space will become even smaller when the Rule of 51 is no longer applicable.

And while it may not seem wise to cut a young former first-rounder who plays a premium position just to save some cap space, the Steelers bolstered their CB corps with free agent Steven Nelson and third-round draft choice Justin Layne. The club is also higher on Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton than it is on Burns, and Joe Haden serves as the team’s No. 1 corner. So Burns is at best the sixth corner on the depth chart, which makes him a fringe player that could be cut at any time.

If he is still on the roster by the time he is due the $800K bonus, then the Steelers clearly will give him one more chance. But it would not be surprising to see him searching for a new team before training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Packers, Rudolph, Steelers

The freedom Aaron Rodgers may or may not have to change plays at the line of scrimmage has become an issue in Green Bay, and first-year Packers HC Matt LaFleur explained the concern he has with enabling his decorated quarterback to have the kind of pre-snap autonomy he did under Mike McCarthy.

One thing we have to work through is the audible thing,” LaFleur said, via Michael Silver of NFL.com, of his conversations with Rodgers. “We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?

LaFleur would prefer Rodgers only have one play he can check to, while the 15th-year passer would like more leeway. The former Rams and Titans OC cited the pre-snap movement he’s bringing to Green Bay as a reason for the potential constraints Rodgers will face.

We move a lot more. There’s a lot more motion. There are a lot more moving parts,” LaFleur said, via Silver. “And so if you just let the quarterback have that freedom to just get to whatever, I’m afraid it would slow our guys down. Now, he is a special talent and he’s got an incredible mind, so as we move forward throughout this process he’s getting more freedom. It’s just, where is that happy medium?

Let’s look at the latest news out of the North divisions:

  • Although Kyle Rudolph received the outcome he wanted — a four-year, $36MM Vikings extension — he acknowledged the prospect of a Patriots trade. But it’s still unclear if the teams engaged in discussions. “Obviously the speculation is going to be there because of their situation at my position and then our team’s cash/cap situation and my salary,” Rudolph said, via SI.com’s Albert Breer. “So there was kind of just a natural, like, ‘Hey, Kyle’s familiar with the offense, he played for a coach (Charlie Weis, at Notre Dame) that was a coordinator there.” After signing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ben Watson, then cutting ASJ and nixing the Michael Roberts trade with the Lions, the Patriots still face the prospect of not having a proven tight end during Watson’s suspension.
  • The buzz about Donte Moncrief becoming Ben Roethlisberger‘s No. 2 target continues, with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (subscription required) calling it a “slam dunk” the former Colts and Jaguars wideout will be the Steelers’ WR2. It still figures to be a collaborative effort replacing one of this generation’s best players, Antonio Brown, but it looks like Moncrief’s offseason has him in position to lead that charge.
  • Artie Burns‘ standing in Pittsburgh is certainly not on the same level, and the Steelers face a decision on the underwhelming first-round cornerback. The team has until the third day of training camp to waive Burns and save $800K, but Kaboly notes that if the fourth-year corner has not yet been cut, the Steelers are probably planning to give him another shot. Regardless, Kaboly expects this to be Burns’ final year in Pittsburgh.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Burns, Bengals

This could be the end of the line for Artie Burns‘ career with the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The cornerback is due an $800K roster bonus on the first day of training camp, but if he can’t prove himself during minicamp, he’ll likely be released before he can collect that check.

The Steelers had high hopes for Burns after he notched six interceptions in his final season at Miami, but he’s regressed in each of his pro seasons. As a rookie, Burns tied for the team lead with three picks despite starting in only nine games. In 2017, he started in every game, but wasn’t as sharp in coverage and had just one interception. Then, last year, Burns was bumped from the starting lineup and mostly appeared on special teams in the second half of the season. The Steelers already passed on Burns’ fifth-year option for 2020 and they could be on the verge of giving up on him altogether. If they cut him, it’ll be yet another draft disappointment for the team at the cornerback position. As Bouchette notes, the club’s top three corners – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton – all came from outside the draft.

Shifting to the teams that wear orange, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • After acting as the Raiders’ interim GM in the wake of Reggie McKenzie‘s ouster, Shaun Herock did not stick with the Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime. But the longtime Oakland exec is expected to land on his feet. Herock is on the verge of joining the Browns, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Although Herock spent seven years in Oakland, he worked extensively with John Dorsey in Green Bay. Herock spent nearly two decades as the Packers’ assistant director of college scouting, working directly under Dorsey (the Packers’ college scouting director for most of that span). The Packers made three Super Bowl appearances during the duo’s time running the Pack’s scouting department. Herock will join ex-Green Bay execs Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland.
  • Here’s a bit of a surprise – Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to use linebacker Preston Brown in a three-down role this year. Brown was limited by injury in 2018, and he was placed on IR in November, but the club opted to bring him back on a one-year, $4MM deal in March. There was some speculation that the Bengals would still look for an upgrade at the middle linebacker position, but it sounds like Brown is primed for a key role on defense.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Steelers To Decline CB Artie Burns’ Option

The Steelers are not expected to exercise cornerback Artie Burns‘ fifth-year option for the 2020 season, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

[RELATED: 2020 Fifth-Year Option Decision Tracker]

Burns turns 24 years old today, so Pittsburgh’s decision comes as an unwelcome birthday present. Had the Steelers opted to pick up his option, Burns would have been scheduled to earn $9.954MM in 2020, but that total would have guaranteed for injury only. If Burns had remained healthy but underwhelmed with his play during the upcoming season, Pittsburgh could have cut bait with no financial ramifications.

The 25th pick of the 2016 draft, Burns started 25 games during his first two years with the Steelers, posting four total interceptions during that time. Things fell apart in 2018, as Burns was benched multiple times and ultimately started only six contests. Football Outsiders charted Burns with just a 42% success rate in coverage, which would have ranked him in the bottom-third of the league had he posted enough snaps to qualify.

Burns isn’t necessarily a lock for the Steelers’ 2019 roster, as the club would incur only ~$1.3MM in dead money by waiving him in the coming months. If he does return, Burns is likely to be buried on Pittsburgh’s secondary depth chart. Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, and free agent addition Steven Nelson project as the Steelers’ starting corners, while 2017 third-round pick Cameron Sutton and rookie third-rounder Justin Layne will also compete for snaps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.