Eli Rogers

Steelers WR Eli Rogers Returns To Practice

Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers — who is currently on the reserve/physically unable to perform list — returned to practice today, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link).

Rogers, 25, has certainly had an eventful 2018 to this point. After tearing his ACL in the divisional round of the playoffs, Rogers was non-tendered as a restricted free agent. He subsequently worked out for multiple teams — including the Chiefs, Browns, and Raiders — before re-signing with the Steelers in July. The NFL suspended Rogers for the first game of the season following a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, but he was able to serve that ban while on PUP.

Rogers has been a part-time player since entering the NFL in 2016, topping out at 62% playtime during his rookie campaign before dipping to 40% last season. The Steelers already have two top-tier wideouts in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, so Rogers will have to compete with Ryan Switzer and James Washington for snaps.

Because he’s already missed the NFL-mandated six weeks of action, Rogers can be activated at any time. If the Steelers don’t place him on their 53-man roster in the next three weeks, he’ll remain on the PUP list for the rest of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Cut QB Landry Jones, Others

The Steelers have reached the 53-man roster limit by cutting a number of players, including quarterback Landry Jones.

Jones, 29, hasn’t played much during his six-year NFL career, as he’s attempted just 169 passes in relief of Roethlisberger. In that span, Jones has been a middling option, completing 63.9% of his passes for 1,310 yards, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

The Steelers also placed wide receiver Eli Rogers on the Reserve/PUP List, which will keep him off of the field for at least the first six weeks of the season.

Here’s the full rundown of the Steelers’ moves:

Released:

  • QB Landry Jones
  • S Nat Berhe

Waived:

In addition to those moves, the Steelers designated the following players waived/injured:

NFL Suspends Steelers WR Eli Rogers

The NFL has suspended Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers for the first game of the season after a violation of the substance abuse policy. In a statement, GM Kevin Colbert expressed his disappointment. 

“We are disappointed that Eli Rogers has been suspended for Week 1 of the regular season as part of the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse,” Colbert said. “The suspension will begin following the final roster cutdown on September 1. He will be allowed to continue his rehabilitation and attend meetings at team’s headquarters, but he will not be permitted to practice with the team during his suspension or attend the Week 1 game.”

The ban means that Rogers will not be able to take the field in the Sept. 9 season opener against the Browns. After that, he’ll be eligible to return for the team’s Week 2 contest against the Chiefs.

Rogers was unlikely to participate in the first game of the season anyway, as he is still recovering from an ACL tear in his right knee. Odds are, Rogers will remain on the PUP list for at least the first six weeks of the season before getting an opportunity to play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Re-Sign Eli Rogers

Eli Rogers is back in Pittsburgh. The Steelers re-signed the wide receiver to a one-year deal on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

Rogers recently worked out for the Browns, Raiders, and Chiefs, but ultimately circled back to the Steelers with Wednesday’s deal. Rogers entered the league as a UDFA with the Steelers in 2015 and broke out in 2016 as he caught 48 passes for 593 yards and three scores in 13 games (eight starts). In 2017, however, Rogers slid down the depth chart following the selection of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Rogers had just 18 receptions for 149 yards last year, though he did chip in as a punt returner.

The Steelers have at least four wide receiver spots locked down with Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster, third-round pick James Washington, and Darrius Heyward-Bey under contract. Rogers will compete for one of the final WR spots with the likes of Justin Hunter, Trey Griffey, and others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

Eli Rogers To Work Out For Browns, Raiders

When Eli Rogers tweeted Friday he had options for his 2018 season, it doesn’t look like the young slot receiver was exaggerating.

In addition to a Chiefs workout, Rogers will audition for the Browns and Raiders, according to Pro Football Talk (on Twitter). The workouts will take place next week.

The top slot option for the 2016 Steelers, Rogers saw his role reduced last season. His most memorable sequence came on a seminal Pittsburgh mistake, with a Ben Roethlisberger pass to a tightly covered Rogers resulting in a Patriots game-sealing interception that ended up paving a clear path for New England to secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed. In 2016, however, the former UDFA out of Louisville caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns.

Rogers tore an ACL in the Steelers’ divisional-round loss, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported the 25-year-old pass-catcher’s made a surprisingly quick recovery.

Seth Roberts still resides as the Raiders’ top slot option, despite delivering lower-end-to-middling production the past two years. Rogers would represent a challenge for that role and give the Raiders some additional depth behind Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson in the process. Oakland now employs Rogers’ former Pittsburgh teammate, Martavis Bryant, as well. But Bryant may be destined for another suspension, and the ex-Steelers wideouts’ skills don’t exactly overlap, either.

The Browns boast some fluidity among their receiving corps. Behind roster locks Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway are a few Sashi Brown-era draft picks — Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis — who are trying to impress a new regime. A Rogers addition would make matters more difficult for that to happen, especially for Higgins or Louis. After an injury-plagued first two seasons, Coleman’s been mentioned as a possible trade candidate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Work Out WR Eli Rogers

It sounds like Kansas City is one of the teams that Eli Rogers could ultimately “choose” to sign with. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the wide receiver is scheduled to work out for the Chiefs tomorrow. The 25-year-old had indicated yesterday that he’d choose where he’d play the 2018 season within the next few days.

There hasn’t been a whole lot of reported interest in Rogers, whose 2018 campaign came to an end following a torn ACL in the Steelers’ divisional round loss to the Jaguars. However, as Schefter notes, the receiver has “made a strong and quicker-than-expected comeback,” perhaps indicating that he’ll be almost 100-percent by the time training camp rolls around. Rogers was non-tendered by Pittsburgh back in March, although reports at the time suggested that he’d likely return to the organization.

The 2015 undrafted free agent out of Louisville had a breakout season in 2016, compiling 48 receptions for 593 yards and three scores in 13 games (eight starts). Following the selection of JuJu Smith-Schuster during the 2017 draft, Rogers slid down the depth chart, and his numbers naturally took a step back. Rogers ended up finishing last season with 18 receptions for 149 yards, although he did manage to contribute as a punt returner.

The Chiefs are relatively stacked at wideout, so the team could be eyeing Rogers in the return game (especially if they intend to keep Tyreek Hill fresh). If Rogers wanted to contribute to the offense, he’d have to compete with the likes of Chris Conley, Demarcus RobinsonDe’Anthony Thomas, and Jehu Chesson for reps behind Hill and Sammy Watkins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Rudolph, Rogers

The Steelers‘ backup quarterback competition is one to watch this summer, Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Landry Jones has been a functional backup for the Steelers, but hasn’t been called upon in the last two years as Roethlisberger has been largely healthy. This year, rookie Mason Rudolph could supplant Jones as the No. 2 QB, leaving him one ill-fated play away from commanding the Steelers’ offense.

If Rudolph is as good as advertised, one can’t help but wonder if the Steelers could opt to carry two QBs instead of three, leaving Jones without a job. There has been no indication that Jones, who is entering his sixth NFL season, is on the bubble, but it may be something to keep in mind during training camp.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

North Notes: Lions, Packers, Steelers

The Lions are still in need of reinforcements at defensive tackle, and it seems inevitable Detroit will make a free agent addition before the regular season gets underway, as Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com writes. Although the Lions have already added a few new players to their interior, veteran Sylvester Williams and fourth-round pick Da’Shawn Hand aren’t likely to be full-time contributors. Detroit’s front four ranked in the bottom third of the league in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, an indication the unit struggled against both the run and pass. Free agents such as Alan Branch and Ricky Jean-Francois could make sense for the Lions given their familiarity with new head coach Matt Patricia‘s defensive scheme, while Johnathan Hankins, while Quinton Dial, Karl Klug, or Frostee Rucker could also speculatively be on Detroit’s radar.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While his contract is currently a matter of discussion, it doesn’t sound as though Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has plans to hang up his cleats any time soon, per Aaron Nagler of PackersNews.com. “It’s sustained greatness I think is what drives me,” Rodgers said (link via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “It’s to be the best and to be able to choose when I’m done playing. I think as you’ve seen here recently with Jordy [Nelson] but even you go back a few years to whether it’s Julius Peppers or A.J. Hawk or John Kuhn or Brett Favre, the fairy tale ending of starting a career and ending it with the same organization rarely happens. So that’s kind of my goal, is to be able to be indispensable to this organization into my 40s to where you’ve got to keep me around.” Rodgers, 34, is currently signed through the 2019 season, but Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst expects a contract extension to come together relatively soon.
  • Free agent wideout Eli Rogers is likely to re-sign with the Steelers as soon as he’s healthy, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Rogers tore his ACL in January before being non-tendered by Pittsburgh, so it could some time before he regains full use of his knee. Although the Steelers should have more targets up for grabs after trading Martavis Bryant to the Raiders, second-round pick James Washington would be standing in Rogers’ way if he’s re-upped. Rogers, 25, managed 48 receptions from the slot in 2016, but came back to earth with just 16 catches a season ago.
  • The Packers will work out former BYU wide receiver Jonah Trinnaman as a cornerback this week, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The Jets also plan to audition Trinnaman in the near future, although it sounds like New York will take a look at the ex-Cougar at his natural pass-catching position.While Trinnaman didn’t put up much in the way of production during his collegiate career, he exploded during his pro day with a 4.30 40-yard dash, 12-foot broad jump, and a 40.5-inch vertical jump.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

RFAs

Tendered at the second-round level ($2.914MM):

Tendered at original round level ($1.907MM):

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered: