Despite Alejandro Villanueva continuing to attend Steelers OTAs, the left tackle and the team are still not on the same page regarding his contract, Bob Labriola of Steelers.com notes. Using a situation one-time Pittsburgh ERFA Willie Parker found himself in several years ago as a comparison, the Steelers writer advocates that Villanueva take what the team is offering to get some more money upfront. As an ERFA, Villanueva can make just $540K this season on the tender he hasn’t signed. But as a two-year starter for the Steelers, the former Army Ranger is obviously worth more than that. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk argues Villanueva should not accept a Steelers lowball offer and withhold his services this summer until the team submits a viable proposal. Nothing’s come out on what kind of deal the team has offered. The sides have talked since at least February on this pact, so this has reached impasse status.
Villanueva is a rare 28-year-old ERFA, and under the terms of his initial NFL contract, the would-be third-year starter won’t be able to become an unrestricted free agent until he’s 30 in 2019. Labriola notes Parker signed a three-year, $13.6MM deal to stay in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2006. As the going rate for linemen continues to rise as teams’ ability to develop them out of college becomes more difficult, Villanueva would have considerable value on the market. But his current circumstances could force him to make a decision soon.
Here’s the latest coming out of the North divisions.
We heard earlier the Browns are considering using a 4-2-5 nickel-type look more frequently to help Jabrill Peppers — often a linebacker at Michigan — and Pluto notes the team does plan to bring a large dose of nickel sets this season. While the league has already gravitated toward passing-down sub-packages as offenses have spread out more in recent years, the Browns would seem to have personnel that fits better with this alignment. Especially after the team signed Jason McCourty to join Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor.
Punter Jake Schum cleared waivers and will be transferred back to the Packers‘ IR list, according to the Associated Press. The Packers cut Schum earlier this week after he served as the punter last season in all 19 Green Bay games. It’s unclear what injury Schum sustained. UDFA Justin Vogel is the only punter on the team’s roster, but the Packers didn’t acquire Schum until August after using a waiver claim on him.
The Packers have released punter Jake Schum and signed undrafted free agent wide receiver Colby Pearson, according to a team announcement.
The 2016 campaign was the only one in Green Bay for Schum, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Browns in 2012 but didn’t see regular-season action until 2015 with the Buccaneers.
Schum, 28, joined the Packers last August via waivers, and he went on to appear in all 16 of their regular-season games and finish 27th in both yards per punt and punts inside the 20, and 24th in net average. All told, Football Outsiders gave the Packers’ special teams unit roughly league-average grades last year in the punting department. That evidently didn’t suffice for Green Bay, whose lone punter is undrafted rookie Justin Vogel, formerly with Miami.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Pearson racked up 76 catches and eight touchdowns at BYU, where he appeared in 30 games from 2014-16. He totaled career highs in receptions (38), yards (384) and scores (four) last season.