Artie Burns

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.

North Notes: Tate, Packers, Browns, Burns

The Lions are only one game out of the NFC North lead, but they nonetheless made the decision to trade their most productive wide receiver since Calvin Johnson to the Eagles. Golden Tate is now in Philadelphia, and some Lions staffers are “very surprised” about that transaction, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. This led Breer to wonder if there was a conflict between Tate and the Lions, and a team source informed him that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Eagles’ offer of a third-round pick for a player who was likely on his way out after 2018 was too good to pass up. Tate would have netted the Lions a compensatory pick had he left in free agency, but that selection would’ve come in the 2020 draft. Now, Detroit has an additional Day 2 pick in 2019. Tate’s departure, though, makes any Lions playoff hopes less likely.

Several of the North divisions’ teams made moves before the trade deadline. Here’s more fallout from some others, along with the latest from some other North franchises:

  • Ty Montgomery‘s fumble on Sunday in Los Angeles didn’t just prompt non-essential Packers to anonymously gripe about the mistake. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes respected veterans called out the since-traded running back/return man. That, coupled with Montgomery not accepting full responsibility for his mistake and publicly expressing trust issues with teammates, signaled the Packers had to move on from the former third-round pick, per Silverstein. Montgomery stands to finish out his contract year with the Ravens.
  • The Packers were not happy about the way Ha Ha Clinton-Dix‘s 2017 season ended, with Silverstein writing Green Bay brass believed the 2014 first-round pick avoided tackles in the season finale against the Lions. This helped influence the Packers’ decision to not enter contract talks with Clinton-Dix prior to the 2018 season. While this tactic isn’t uncommon for the Packers, who let established starters Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, Sam Shields and others play out their contract years before re-signing them, it led Clinton-Dix to believe he wasn’t going to be back next season. Hence, the trade to Washington. GM Brian Gutekunst, however, said (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky) these trades weren’t meant as a message for the locker room.
  • As far as replacing Clinton-Dix, the Packers have some interesting options. One NFC scout told Silverstein their best choice might be to move recently added cornerback Bashaud Breeland to safety and play him in tandem with Jermaine Whitehead. Kentrell Brice served as Clinton-Dix’s safety running mate this season. A four-year Redskins starter, Breeland has not played a snap for the Packers yet. Another option, as Demovsky details, would be to play 2017 second-rounder Josh Jones. He’s worked as a special-teamer thus far. Tramon Williams could be an option as well, so Green Bay is not lacking in possible solutions.
  • The Browns named former Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley as their running backs coach today. This is interesting on multiple levels. The 29-year-old now-coach’s highest level of experience came as a San Diego State graduate assistant. Lindley, though, played under new Browns OC Freddie Kitchens with the Cardinals when Kitchens was their QBs coach.
  • Artie Burns did not play a snap in the Steelers‘ win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin said he benched the former first-round cornerback because he was late for a walkthrough, but Burns said Wednesday (via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) he was back with the starters at practice. Coty Sensabaugh started in place of Burns in Week 8.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Jackson, Bills

Le’Veon Bell has recovered from offseason groin surgery. The Steelers running back has been playing pickup basketball in Los Angeles while his representatives discuss what would be a landmark extension, one that almost certainly would make Bell the NFL’s highest-paid running back. The fifth-year runner didn’t elaborate much on the process, though.

I’m good with everything, just taking it day to day for real,” Bell said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Attached to a $12.1MM franchise tag, Bell is the only player given the tag who did not sign his tender or agree to a long-term extension this offseason. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com noted this week the proposition of a Bell/Steelers pact “could go either way.” LeSean McCoy‘s $8MM-per-year salary is the current running back ceiling, but the 25-year-old Bell’s likely aiming to exceed that by quite a bit.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • One of Bell’s Steelers teammates did not have a good end to the work week. Miami Beach police arrested Artie Burns for driving with a suspended license Thursday night, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. Burns was unable to provide a driver’s license and had back tickets totaling approximately $1,000, Fowler reports (Facebook link). The cornerback was released from custody on Friday. The Steelers have not commented on the incident.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap (Twitter links) is a bit surprised by the size of Gabe Jackson‘s deal with the Raiders. Even with growing salaries for guards, Fitzgerald did not expect Jackson to fetch a five-year, $56MM extension with $26MM in guarantees. It could be a sign of things to come in Oakland and Fitzgerald believes that linebacker Khalil Mack will wind up as the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL by a healthy margin when that deal gets done. As we learned Thursday, Mack will probably have to wait until next year to get his extension.
  • The Bills‘ move back to a 4-3 look will benefit its personnel more than Rex Ryan‘s 3-4 did, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes. In addition to Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams moving back to their natural spots inside, the Bills should have a better chance of seeing what they have in Shaq Lawson. Carucci notes Lawson never felt comfortable as a 3-4 outside linebacker — a position he’d never before played — and is a much better fit as a 4-3 end. Meanwhile, the Bills should be able to coax more from Jerry Hughes now that he’s back at end, with Carucci pointing out Ryan’s schemes at times called for the natural pass rusher to execute pass-coverage assignments. Hughes totaled 10 sacks apiece as a 4-3 end during the 2013 and ’14 seasons but combined for just 11 over the past two years.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Steelers Sign First-Round Pick Artie Burns

6:46pm: Burns will receive a $5.2MM signing bonus to go along with his No. 25 slot-mandated $9.59MM deal over four years, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.

4:36pm: The Steelers agreed to terms with their first-round pick, cornerback Artie Burns, and now have signed six of their seven 2016 selections to their rookie contracts, James Palmer of NFL.com reports.

Third-round defensive tackle Javon Hargrave remains unsigned, as do several third-rounders due to the complex nature of their negotiations.

As for Burns, he’ll be a participant in Pittsburgh’s mandatory minicamp set for June 14-16. The rookie corner will be tasked with contributing immediately to a secondary that resided as one of the few weak points on a talented team last season.

The Steelers don’t possess much experience beyond William Gay, although Ross Cockrell graded out well, according to Pro Football Focus last season. Pittsburgh has not elected to re-sign UFA Brandon Boykin and did not receive any contribution from 2015 rookie Senquez Golson after an injury sidelined him for the entire season.

An early-entry draftee from Miami, Burns led all ACC defenders with six interceptions last season. Burns also represents the first corner the franchise selected in the first round since Chad Scott in 1997.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Tunsil, Carroo, Ravens, Steelers

The Dolphins slotted Laremy Tunsil as their No. 2-rated player before the draft, with Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey at No. 1, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. Had Tunsil not fallen to them at No. 13, the Dolphins would have been inclined to trade back and seek cornerback help, Salguero writes.

Among corners, the Dolphins had Eli Apple rated No. 2 behind Ramsey. Although Miami traded for Byron Maxwell, the team is now without all three of its primary starters from 2015 — Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor, the latter being traded to the Browns for a seventh-round pick Saturday.

Here’s more from the AFC as we transition into a post-draft world, beginning with more on the Dolphins’ board.

  • Miami traded up in the third round to take Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo, but it’s not where the ex-Scarlet Knights target came off the board that’s interesting; it’s where his new team rated him. “We thought he was the second-best receiver in the draft,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, via Salguero. That assessment runs counter to just about every pre-draft analysis in a draft that saw four wideouts go in the first round and three come off the board in Round 2. Prior to Miami selecting Carroo at No. 86, the Texans took Braxton Miller at No. 85. The Dolphins surrendered a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft — which it traded to the Vikings to select another receiver, Jakeem Grant — as well as third- and fourth-round choices in 2017 to become the ninth team to select a receiver this year. Rutgers suspended Carroo twice in 2015, and he was arrested once on a domestic violence-related charge.
  • Tunsil’s selection strikes Salguero as interesting considering as the No. 2 player on the Dolphins’ board, they couldn’t have done the exhaustive work on him as they did on someone like Apple or another player they thought would be in play at 13. He uses the Patriots, who did not pick until the 60s, not doing much work on Ramsey as an example.
  • Although Ozzie Newsome denied the Ravens picked Ronnie Stanley over Tunsil because of the now-infamous bong video posted on the tackle’s Twitter account before the draft, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports that the social media posting was passed around the Ravens draft room prior to the team selecting Stanley. The Ray Rice moment still hangs over the franchise, Schmuck writes, inducing Baltimore to play it safe when it comes to questionable prospects.
  • The past two years, the Steelers have chosen 11 defensive players compared to just four on offense, and Mike Tomlin told media (including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) it’s realistic three could emerge as starters in Week 1. “I believe it’s realistic,” Tomlin said of the prospect of the team’s top three picks — cornerback Artie Burns, safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave — starting against Washington in September. “That’s why we chose them where we chose them. But they have to earn it, and we’ll give them the opportunity to do that.” Following the departures of Steve McLendon and Brandon Boykin, the team has holes in its lineup at No. 2 corner and at defensive tackle.

Dolphins Rumors: Draft, CBs, Jason Jones

Landing a cornerback – and perhaps more than one – is the Dolphins’ top priority in this year’s draft, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a lock to take one with the No. 13 pick, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

According to Jackson, if Miami opts for the best player available in the first round, and that player is a non-cornerback, there’s a belief the team could still land a quality CB at No. 42 and/or No. 73. Jackson mentions Miami’s Artie Burns, Baylor’s Xavien Howard, and Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller as a few potential targets.

Here’s more on the Dolphins from Jackson, including several notes on their possible draft plans:

  • If running back Ezekiel Elliott or linebacker Myles Jack slip to No. 13, the Dolphins would have interest in both players. The team recently sent a contingent to Los Angeles for a private workout with UCLA’s Jack.
  • Some Dolphins scouting and front office people are resistant to the idea of drafting Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III if he’s on the board at No. 13, since the team would prefer a big, physical cornerback.
  • Miami is intrigued by Houston’s William Jackson III and Ohio State’s Eli Apple, but they may not be great value at No. 13, so trading down might be a consideration. Dolphins VP Mike Tannenbaum said today that there have been preliminary conversations about the No. 13 pick, tweets James Walker of ESPN.com.
  • The Dolphins have discussed the possibility of taking one of the top offensive tackles in the first round and moving him to guard – at least temporarily – but that seems to be an unlikely outcome.
  • On special teams, the Dolphins are keeping an eye out for help in the return game and potential competition for kicker Andrew Franks. Special teams coach Darren Rizzi has privately worked out multiple kicker prospects, including Nick Rose of Texas and Daniel Sobolewski of Albright.
  • The Dolphins continue to have conversations with free agent defensive end Jason Jones, and there’s mutual interest between the two sides in working something out.

Draft Rumors: 4/10/16

Let’s take a look at some of today’s draft rumors. We will update this page as necessary throughout the day:

  • Memphis QB Paxton Lynch will meet with the Jets on Thursday, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). The Jets, of course, are still looking to bring back free agent signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the two sides remain far apart on contract terms. Lynch is widely-regarded as one of the top three quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. Mehta confirms that Gang Green will also visit with Ohio State TE Nick Vannett tomorrow.
  • Alcorn State QB John Gibbs, Jr. worked out for the Texans at their local prospect workout yesterday, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. As we learned yesterday, prospects like Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah and UCLA OT Caleb Benenoch were also in attendance.
  • According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (via Twitter), there are several themes emerging with regards to the top CB prospects in this year’s draft. Some evaluators prefer Ohio State’s Eli Apple to Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III–Hargreaves has been ranked almost universally as the best corner in the draft outside of Jalen Ramsey–and some prefer Miami’s Artie Burns to Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander and Houston’s William Jackson III.
  • Western Michigan WR Daniel Braverman–who was not even invited to this year’s Scouting Combine–has already visited the Vikings, Saints, and Dolphins, and is set to visit with the Raiders, Seahawks, and Bengals this week, according to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin. (Twitter links). Braverman had a whopping 109 receptions for 1,367 yards last season.

 

South Notes: Jaguars, Thompson, Saints, Bucs

Ohio State edge rusher Joey Bosa is among the players visiting the Jaguars today, according to John Oehser of Jaguars.com (via Twitter). However, Bosa is far from the only marquee prospect in town to meet with the Jags.

Mark Long of The Associated Press tweets that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is also making a visit to Jacksonville, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) adds several more names to the team’s list of pre-draft visitors. Some of the prospects listed by Rapoport were previously reported, but it’s an impressive group, one that includes Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley and Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple.

As Jacksonville mulls its draft options, let’s round up a few more items from out of the NFL’s South divisions…

  • The Colts and Falcons are taking a long look at Boise State safety Darian Thompson, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. As previously reported, Atlanta had multiple members of its front office out at Thompson’s Pro Day.
  • Utah State linebacker Nick Vigil will visit the Saints, a source tells Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter).
  • Former University of Miami cornerback Artie Burns is in Tampa today visiting the Buccaneers, Jenna Laine of Sports Talk 1040 The Team tweets.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.