Jeff Heuerman

AFC Rumors: Steelers, Broncos, Titans

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey‘s career could end when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s does, relays Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pouncey’s still young (he’ll turn 28 in July), but it’s possible the seventh-year man and five-time Pro Bowler would rather hang it up than continue with someone other than Roethlisberger, who mulled retirement after last season and is entering his age-35 campaign. “It will be hard for me to come back if he’s not here,” Pouncey said of Roethlisberger. “Whenever you’re playing with that level of quarterback, to try to switch that up would be a different mojo for everybody on the team. … I’m glad he came back. We need him to win a championship around here.”

More on Pittsburgh and two other AFC clubs:

  • Three Broncos who have gone high in recent drafts, wide receiver Cody Latimer, offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo and tight end Jeff Heuerman, will have to fight for their roster spots in training camp, observes Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. Latimer, a second-rounder in 2014, hasn’t made much of an impact as a receiver (16 career catches), and he’s not in position to change that with Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie ahead of him on the depth chart. As such, his best hope is to make the Broncos as a special teamer, posits Wolfe, who expects that to happen. Sambrailo, meanwhile, went in the second round a year later and has only totaled 13 appearances and seven starts. Even if he cracks the Broncos’ roster, Sambrailo seems likely to serve as primarily a backup again, as the team spent a first-rounder on tackle Garett Bolles this year after adding fellow bookend Menelik Watson on a three-year, $18.3MM deal in free agency. And then there’s Heuerman, a 2015 third-rounder who missed his entire rookie year with a torn ACL and then caught nine passes in 12 games last season. He’ll have to fend off Henry Krieger-Coble to make the team, notes Wolfe. Denver’s other tight end options include Virgil Green, A.J. Derby and fifth-rounder Jake Butt, a former Michigan standout who’s working back from the torn ACL he suffered in his final college game last December.
  • As a rookie last season, fifth-rounder Tajae Sharpe finished second among Titans wide receivers in catches (41), targets (83) and yards (522) in 2016. Nevertheless, it seems he’ll enter camp with a weak hold on a roster spot, writes Jason Wolf of the Tennesseean. The Titans used two valuable picks on receivers – Corey Davis in the first round and Taywan Taylor in the third – in the spring and then signed established veteran Eric Decker last week. Those additions combined with Sharpe’s questionable health (he recently underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot) and a police investigation over an alleged assault have the 22-year-old in limbo, according to Wolf.
  • The fact that the Steelers have a deep receiving corps means third-year man Sammie Coates will have to battle for a spot in camp, suggests Fowler. Coates was a relatively high selection in 2015, when he went in Round 3 of the draft, but the ex-Auburn star has totaled just 22 receptions in 21 games as a Steeler. A broken finger and a groin injury likely contributed to Coates’ underwhelming output last season (21 catches on 49 targets, two touchdowns), and he indicated that he’s nearing full health with camp approaching. “I’m getting there. It’s a process,” said Coates, who underwent sports hernia surgery over the winter. “That’s what this process is for, to get your body back so you can compete during camp.”

AFC Notes: Amendola, Sanchez, Mettenberger

Patriots receiver Danny Amendola underwent a pair of surgeries this offseason, reports Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. The 30-year-old had surgery on his injured left knee, and he also had an operation to remove a bone spur in his ankle. Despite these ailments, Amendola still managed to play 14 games last season, compiling 65 catches for 648 yards and three touchdowns.

There is hope that Amendola will be healthy enough for training camp, but the organization is not planning on rushing him back. Since it’s so early in the process, Howe notes that there is “no guarantee” that the wideout will be ready for Week 1.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez injured his left thumb in the weight room last week, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The 29-year-old underwent surgery on Saturday, but he is only expected to miss “a few OTAs.”
  • Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman says he’s back to 100% on his knee, as Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post tweets. Heuerman, the 92nd overall pick in last year’s draft, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during rookie camp last year and missed the entire 2015 season.
  • Indianapolis castoff Bjoern Werner could be another late bloomer for the JaguarsHays Carlyon of The Florida Times-Union writes. Buffalo struck gold in the 2013 offseason when they traded with Indy for defensive end Jerry Hughes, a player who many had written off. Since then, Hughes has racked up 25 sacks for Jacksonville over the last three seasons. Werner has yet to produce in the NFL, but he is still just 25 years old and could theoretically turn things around with a change of scenery. The Jaguars signed Werner to a prove-it deal late last week.
  • The Titans released Zach Mettenberger today in order to give him a chance to do his OTAs and minicamp with a team and learn their system, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC West Notes: Fisher, Aldon, San Diego, Broncos

With fifth-year option decisions due Tuesday, May 3, the Chiefs are procrastinating — at least publicly — on their choice on whether or not to pick up Eric Fisher‘s.

I know a lot of guys have been exercising these options on players right now,” Chiefs GM John Dorsey said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “I do things a little bit different. I think what I do is, I’m, at times, compartmentalizing a little bit too much. So really, the task at hand, for me, is to make sure we nail this draft. And I think when we get to Monday, we’ll deal with Monday.”

Fisher would be due a guaranteed-against-injury $11.9MM in 2017 if the Chiefs pick up their left tackle’s option. The No. 1 overall pick in 2013, Fisher improved last season after an unremarkable initial two years. But at $11.9MM, he’d stand to be the fourth-highest-paid tackle in 2017 — behind only Tyron Smith, Trent Williams and Anthony Castonzo. And by waiting until the draft is over, the Chiefs appear to be keeping their options open regarding their blind-side protector’s future, considering he hasn’t yet shown himself worthy of a cornerstone-type contract similar to the ones the aforementioned players received.

Kansas City has already participated in extension talks with Fisher in a likely effort to bring that prospective $11.9MM cap number down for a franchise that doesn’t look to have much cap space come next year, with most of its key players locked in for the next two seasons.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West.

  • Speaking at a stadium rally in San Diego on Saturday, Roger Goodell endorsed keeping the Chargers in the city and said that if the downtown stadium initiative goes through, the Super Bowl will return to San Diego. “I said it. I mean it. The Chargers belong in San Diego,” the commissioner said (via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, on Twitter). The Super Bowl last came to the city in 2003, with Qualcomm Stadium — now considered one of the worst in the game — hosting Super Bowl XXXVIII.
  • Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and Dean Spanos also spoke in support of the $1.8 billion stadium/convention center project, although as Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune points out, the words “convention center” weren’t spoken by any of the guest speakers at the signature-collecting showcase that drew around 4,000. “I mean, dadgumit. … It just makes sense right? I hope I’m still around to play in it. Let’s get it done together,” said Rivers, who wasn’t enthusiastic about relocating to Los Angeles when the subject surfaced last year.
  • Aldon Smith‘s trial is set to begin May 2, Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com reports. The recently re-signed Raiders edge presence faces three charges from the August 2015 incident that led to his release from the 49ers — DUI with a prior conviction, hit and run and vandalism under $400 — according to Bair. Smith remains suspended for a substance-abuse policy violation and can’t return to aid the Raiders on Sundays until November, but the sixth-year veteran must be reinstated by Goodell. That hasn’t been a smooth process for recent offenders.
  • Free agent linebacker Nick Moody remains on track to testify at Smith’s trial despite a judge issuing a warrant for his arrest for failure to appear in a Florida court to confirm this, Florio reports. Moody now insists his failure to appear in court Friday stemmed from a miscommunication. Moody spent two years with the 49ers before playing in three games with the Seahawks in 2015.
  • The Raiders are showing “serious interest” in Utah interior lineman Siaosi Aiono, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • The Broncos spent plenty of time trying to re-sign Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson, and the defending champions added two tackles expected to start during the offseason. But they released Owen Daniels and didn’t make an attempt to bring back Vernon Davis, who signed with Washington. This could be due to the team’s high hopes for second-year tight end Jeff Heuerman, who missed his rookie slate with a torn ACL. “We expect (Heuerman) to step in and be a force,” GM John Elway told media, including Troy Renck of the Denver Post. “We’re counting on (Heuerman) big time,” Gary Kubiak said. “We feel like Jeff can be a total tight end. He’s not just a receiver. We think he has the ability to do both (catch and block).” A former third-round pick, Heuerman wasn’t known for his receiving chops at Ohio State. The 6-foot-5 tight end hauled in 792 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in four years, playing extensively as a junior and senior. Virgil Green is the only experienced tight end on the roster, so it may behoove the team to add some depth at this spot.

Broncos Rumors: Daniels, RG3, QB, Norwood

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak addressed reporters on Tuesday morning at the NFL owners’ meetings and we have the highlights from his scrum right here, courtesy of Troy Renck of The Denver Post:

  • Kubiak said that he has big plans for tight end Jeff Heuerman and he sees him as a complete tight end, Renck tweets. Of more import to us at PFR, Kubiak says that he hasn’t ruled out bringing Owen Daniels back. Daniels had two years left on his contract but was released by Denver earlier this month. The veteran tight end, who will turn 34 in November, caught 46 balls for 517 yards and three touchdowns during his lone season in Denver.
  • Kubiak said the team is in “no hurry” to add quarterback. “We talk about it everyday. The important thing is to get it right and not rush it,” the coach said (link via Renck).
  • Robert Griffin III is on the “list” of quarterbacks being considered by the team, though they are looking at plenty of options (link). A report on Monday indicated that RG3 could be Cleveland-bound this week.
  • Kubiak said that he talked to Jordan Norwood on Monday and he says it’s a sign of how much the team wants the wide receiver back in the fold (link).
  • The coach wants a fullback on the roster again and the team is looking at options in the draft, Renck tweets. The Broncos wanted to have a fullback in 2015, but that didn’t pan out due to James Casey‘s knee issues.

Broncos Waive 9; Trade Chris Clark To Texans

The Broncos made a whole lot of moves today as they get set to trim their roster down to 75. Among their transactions, Denver traded tackle Chris Clark to the Texans for a seventh-round choice in 2016, as Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com tweets. The sixth-year offensive tackle appeared in 69 games (27 starts) with Denver during the last five seasons. Prior to that, Clark spent two years competing on Minnesota’s practice squad.

The team also announced a litany of transactions on Monday morning. Vested veteran Reggie Walker has been cut loose while nine other players were waived:

Released:

  • Reggie Walker, ILB

Waived:

  • Tevrin Brandon, CB
  • Andre Davis, G
  • Joe Don Duncan, TE/FB
  • Zac Dysert, QB
  • Spencer Lanning, P
  • Ross Madison, S
  • Jake Murphy, TE
  • Jeremy Stewart, RB
  • Chase Vaughn, OLB

Walker, a former special-teams standout for the rival Chargers, was signed in March but unable to win a job amongst a competitive group of inside linebackers. That batch of ILBs includes 2014 draft picks Corey Nelson and Lamin Barrow. In addition to the moves listed above, Denver also placed third-round pick Jeff Heuerman on injured reserve.

Broncos Sign Heuerman, Lock Up Draft Class

The Broncos have signed third-round tight end Jeff Heuerman, locking up their entire 2015 draft class, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team signed top pick Shane Ray earlier this week, after securing second-rounder Ty Sambrailo and its other six draftees in May.

Heuerman, the 92nd overall pick in this year’s draft, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during rookie camp last month and is expected to miss the entire 2015 season. The former Ohio State Buckeye won’t go on the injured reserve list quite yet, since he’d have to pass through waivers to be placed on IR at this point, but he’ll likely land there eventually.

“I feel terrible for Jeff and this is a very unfortunate situation,” said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, after Heuerman’s ACL injury. “Jeff was going to be a big part of our team this year, and he’s still going to be a big part of our team and organization in the future.”

Heuerman, who is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2016 season, will get a signing bonus worth just under $621K on his rookie contract, which will be worth about $2.9MM over four years. While he recovers from his ACL tear, the Broncos will have to make do with a stable of tight ends led by offseason signee Owen Daniels.

Extra Points: Wells, Broncos, Raiders

Former Rams center Scott Wells is paying a visit to the Titans today, a league source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The 34-year-old, who earned a Pro Bowl berth during his final season with the Packers in 2011, played his college ball at Tennessee, so it would be a homecoming of sorts if he were to sign with the Titans.

  • Tight end Jeff Heuerman is the Broncos‘ only remaining unsigned draft pick but his deal is likely to get done later this week, Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets. Earlier today, first round choice Shane Ray put pen to paper with Denver.
  • After signing blocking tight end Lee Smith away from Buffalo and using a third-round pick on Miami’s Clive Walford, the Raiders are hoping to get significant production out of their TEs this season, Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com writes. He notes that tight end versatility is essential in Bill Musgrave’s offense, particularly when they go up-tempo.
  • North Carolina Central wide receiver/kick returner Adrian Wilkins will enter the Supplemental Draft, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. As a sophomore, Wilkins returned five kicks for touchdowns, three kickoffs and two punts and was given All-American honors for his play.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Allen, Gipson, Raiders, Heuerman

After tight end Dwayne Allen didn’t initally report to the Colts‘ voluntary offseason program, a text message from head coach Chuck Pagano was enough to get him to show up, as Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star outlines. Allen is heading into a contract year and figures to seek a new deal with the team.

Here’s more from across the AFC:

  • Browns cornerback Joe Haden acknowledged that fellow defensive back Tashaun Gipson is upset about the contract tender he received from the team, but said Gipson will be in attendance for Cleveland’s mandatory minicamp and training camp (Twitter link via Pat McManamon of ESPN.com).
  • The Raiders seem unsatisfied with their safety depth, Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com writes. Oakland gave an offer sheet to restricted free agent Sean Richardson earlier in the offseason, but the Packers matched to retain him. Then, this week, Oakland put a waiver claim in on D.J. Swearinger but they were behind the Bucs (and the Jags, who also placed a claim) in the pecking order. The Raiders do have some quality depth at the position, but their actions have made it clear that they want more.
  • Broncos rookie tight end Jeff Heuerman hasn’t signed yet but he eventually will, despite his knee injury, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Recently, the Jaguars completed their deal with Dante Fowler Jr. after the No. 3 overall pick suffered his own season-ending injury.
  • Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com is excited to see what diamonds in the rough might emerge at the Chargers‘ rookie minicamp after last year produced Branden Oliver, Tenny Palepoi, and Chris Davis.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Broncos’ Jeff Heuerman Tears ACL

Broncos third-round pick Jeff Heuerman suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during rookie camp Saturday and will likely miss the 2015 season, according to Andrew Mason of the team’s website. The injury happened during a non-contact special teams drill, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

Heuerman, whom the Broncos chose 92nd overall out of Ohio State, joins the Jaguars’ Dante Fowler Jr. as the second draft pick to suffer a season-ending knee injury this week.

“I feel terrible for Jeff and this is a very unfortunate situation,” said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, per Mason. “Jeff was going to be a big part of our team this year, and he’s still going to be a big part of our team and organization in the future.”

Heuerman is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2016 season. For now, the Broncos will have to make do with a stable of tight ends led by offseason signing Owen Daniels.

AFC Notes: Chargers, Bills, Dolphins, Jets

The Chargers appear to be contemplating the post-Philip Rivers era in San Diego, as they take a closer look at Oregon signal-caller Marcus Mariota today. After working out Mariota, the team’s brass will head to Los Angeles to put UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley through a workout of his own, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

GM Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy have repeatedly stated they want Rivers to retire as a Charger, so there may be no need to identify his successor quite yet. But Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes this offseason is the prime time for San Diego to trade Rivers in a deal to snag Mariota, arguing that all the factors in play point to it being a win-win move for the franchise and for the veteran quarterback, who is entering the final year of his contract.

We still have a little more than two weeks until the draft gets underway, so it will be interesting to see if the Rivers trade rumors pick up steam or die down as April 30 approaches. In the meantime, here are a few more notes from across the AFC:

  • Free agent wide receiver Brad Smith is paying a visit to Buffalo to meet with the Bills, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com details. Smith played for Rex Ryan on the Jets, but it’s not clear if there’s a spot for him on Ryan’s new club, with players like Percy Harvin, Marcus Easley, and Marcus Thigpen already in the mix as potentially versatile offensive weapons, returners, or special-teamers.
  • Given where we’ve seen running backs drafted in the last couple years, it would be surprise to see one go as high as No. 14 overall this year. Nonetheless, the Dolphins, who hold that pick, are hosting Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon for a visit next week, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter).
  • Outside pass rushers Bud Dupree and Shane Ray will be visiting the Jets, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). Although there has been plenty of chatter linking Mariota to New York, the team is in a good spot at No. 6 to add a top pass rushing prospect.
  • The Steelers hosted Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper, Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman, and UAB tight end Kennard Backman on pre-draft visits today, tweets ESPN.com’s Scott Brown. Cooper met with the Saints in New Orleans yesterday, but we haven’t heard much to date about the tight ends.
  • Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby is visiting the Colts today, according to Rapoport (via Twitter).
  • On the heels of the Raiders‘ agreement with free agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Bill Williamson of ESPN.com shares a few initial thoughts on the deal, outlining why the former Niner is worth the risk on a one-year investment.