Hercules Mata'afa

North Rumors: Steelers, Vikings, Browns

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will not play in 2018 after suffering a devastating spinal injury in 2017, but he today reiterated his desire to resume his career at some point, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Meeting with the media for the first time since his injury, Shazier took an optimistic tone, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever realistically have the chance to step on the field as a player again. Pittsburgh has already placed him on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’s now ineligible to play during the upcoming campaign. In something of a goodwill gesture, the Steelers also converted the majority of Shazier’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus, allowing the former first-round pick to collect his entire paycheck immediately.

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

  • The Vikings have lost undrafted free agent edge rusher Hercules Mata’afa for the season after he suffered a torn ACL today, reports Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com (Twitter link). While he ultimately wasn’t selected in the draft, Mata’afa was labeled as a potential fifth-rounder by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who lauded Mata’afa’s toughness and motor. Mata’afa, a Washington State product, would have had to make the Minnesota roster on special teams, but he’ll now have to wait until his second NFL season for another opportunity. He’ll be waived/injured and removed from the Vikings’ active roster, and then placed on injured reserve if he’s not claimed.
  • Mychal Kendricksone-year, $3.5MM deal with the Browns contains a $500K signing bonus and a $1.4MM base salary, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. As such, it appears Kendricks is due either a roster bonus or a significant total in per-game roster bonuses. Either way, his new pact doesn’t appear to guarantee him a roster spot in Cleveland, especially given the Browns’ depth at the position. Cleveland believes Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, but the club already boasts Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert at the second level, meaning snaps could be sparse for Kendricks.
  • The NFL announced it has fined the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh, and docked the club its final two organized team activity sessions, following a “violation of offseason workout rules.” While the infraction is unclear, it’s possible — based both on Baltimore’s history and the club’s statement — that players were either asked to hit or practice for too long a duration, violating the collective bargaining agreement.

Vikings Sign 17 Undrafted Free Agents

The Vikings have agreed to terms with 17 undrafted free agents. Here’s the complete rundown:

Hill received $75K guaranteed in the form of a $15K signing bonus and $60K in base salary, which is the most money received by UDFA since Mike Zimmer became the team’s head coach in 2014, writes Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune.

Robertson received $50K guaranteed with his deal, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. The wide receiver caught 76 passes for 1,106 yards for Southern Mississippi last season.

Wieneke, a native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, said this week that he is ecstatic about the opportunity to play for the Vikings.

It’s the best feeling in the world,’’ said Wieneke (via Tomasson). “I get to stay with the team I grew up loving and I get to stay in Minnesota. It can’t be anything better than this.’’

Dooley received $41K in guaranteed money with an $11K signing bonus and $30K in base salary.

Hill may be the most intriguing prospect of the bunch. The cornerback was suspended by Texas for the last month of the season for reasons that are still unknown. In terms of talent, he was regarded as a draftable player.

Meanwhile, running backs Thomas and Boone and fullback/running back Pettway have a reach chance at making the roster after the Vikings declined to select a running back over the weekend. After the departure of Jerick McKinnon, there are no other running backs to support Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.