Jordan Berry

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Prior to the Browns waiving kicker Zane Gonzalez, Hue Jackson did not know the second-year specialist was dealing with a groin injury. The third-year Browns HC (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) said he knew “nothing about an injury whatsoever” and that no one from the Browns’ medical department told him Gonzalez was hurt, which could set up for an interesting situation as Cleveland pivots to another kicker. It hasn’t been reported that Gonzalez was waived with an injury designation, and Florio posits an injury grievance from Gonzalez could be in the cards. Gonzalez’s groin malady required an MRI, but he still attempted a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. This information also doesn’t put Jackson in an especially positive light, given Gonzalez’s struggles on Sunday — ones that led directly to Cleveland’s 21-18 loss.

Shifting from a player the Browns just cut to one they opted not to draft, here’s the latest from the AFC North:

  • Sam Darnold did his best to not offer much regarding his draft-night mindset, but he did say he expected the Browns to take him at No. 1 due to the amount of time John Dorsey and Co. spent with him leading into the draft, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The Browns spent time with all four of the top quarterback prospects before narrowing their decision to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. “We spent time with (Darnold) and his family, and obviously, every quarterback. We feel very comfortable with the guy that we selected in Baker, and I’m sure they do with him,” Jackson said. “He’s a fine prospect and is going to be a fine player. I think they got a good one, but we feel we have a really good one, too.”
  • The Ravens are not counting on having C.J. Mosley available for their Week 3 game against the Broncos, David Ginsburg of the Associated Press notes. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker suffered a bruised left knee in Baltimore’s loss in Cincinnati. Rookie Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor were called to action in place of Mosley, who’s only missed two games (both in 2016) in his career. A fourth-round pick, Young looks like the Sunday starter, per Ginsburg.
  • Broncos rookie UDFA Phillip Lindsay sits third among the league’s rushing leaders going into Week 3’s Baltimore trip, and Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets the Colorado product narrowed his post-draft choices to the Broncos and Ravens. Lindsay (178 rushing yards on 6.1 per carry) is part of a two-rookie backfield in Denver. The Ravens opted to retain their status quo at running back, with Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen back.
  • Allen is now on IR, though the Ravens would’ve preferred to keep both he and cornerback Maurice Canady on their active roster rather than shelve them for at least two months, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. Neither’s injury is a season-ending setback, and Dixon is a candidate to return from IR later in the season.
  • Le’Veon Bell‘s agent, Adisa Bakari, attended the Steelers‘ season-opening tie in Cleveland, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes the vibe between he and Steelers brass wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. Bakari also represents Tyrod Taylor. Nothing on the Bell front’s transpired in several days, and Pittsburgh’s bracing for a long absence.
  • Mike Tomlin expressed frustration with punter Jordan Berry, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly (on Twitter), and he may be on the verge of losing his job. The Steelers brought in free agent punters Jeff Locke and Justin Vogel for workouts today, Kaboly tweets. Berry’s been Pittsburgh’s punter since 2015, and the Steelers signed him to an extension in February.
  • With Joe Mixon out for a bit, the Bengals brought in a host of running backs for Tuesday workouts. Thomas Rawls, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Troymaine Pope and Matthew Dayes trekked to Cincinnati for auditions, Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan tweets.

Extra Points: Boldin, Burfict, Mathieu, Saints

Anquan Boldin may not be done playing in the NFL, as he said today that he hasn’t made a decision on the future of his career, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Boldin signed a one-year deal with the Bills last August, but retired just two weeks later. The 37-year-old expressed some interest in returning during the 2017 season, but the Bills had no intention of releasing him. Buffalo has now done so, as it cut Boldin from the reserve/retired list this week. For what it’s worth, the Patriots and Boldin reportedly had mutual interest last September.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to argue that his four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension should be overturned given that he was using prescription medications to recover from injury after he’d already been ruled out for the season, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. If Burfict’s ban is upheld, the remaining $11.3MM guarantee on his contract will void, meaning Cincinnati could potentially move on without any financial consequences. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Burfict is hoping an arcane section of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement will save him, but the league is unlikely to overturn his suspension.
  • Former All Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu had an offer to return to the Cardinals at an $8MM salary, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The 25-year-old Mathieu declined the overture, and instead signed with the Texans for one year and $7MM. the Mathieu was a Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s best defensive backs as recently as 2015, but he’s struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness over the past two seasons. Last year, Mathieu managed to start all 16 games, but only graded as the league’s No. 61 cornerback among 121 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Although the Saints received a salary cap credit as a result of their Nick Fairley grievance, the grievance itself has not been settled, per Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That $3MM credit was only related to Fairley’s signing bonus, so the Saints are presumably trying to recoup a portion of Fairley’s base salary after he was forced to sit out the 2017 campaign with a heart condition. For what it’s worth, Fairley hopes to play during the upcoming season, but it’s difficult to imagine any team medically clearing him.
  • The Steelers curiously signed restricted free agent punter Jordan Berry to a one-year extension with a similar salary to the RFA tender, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com has explained the club’s rationale. Berry, a native Australian, would have been considered unemployed if he returned to his home country without an RFA tender in place, meaning his work authorization paperwork could have taken extra time. Given that he’s getting married this year, Berry didn’t want to deal with any confusion, so Pittsburgh obliged him by giving him a one-year deal, the value of which has sent been altered to match the original round tender figure of $1.907MM.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Steelers, Ben, Bell

As the Ravens seek to repair their offense in 2018, they should target free agent tight end Jimmy Graham, opines Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has always displayed a proclivity for throwing to tight ends, and Graham could give the Ravens a valuable weapon in the red zone (each of Graham’s 10 touchdowns all came from inside the 20). While he did score often, Graham is entering his age-32 campaign and only managed 520 receiving yards on the season. Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric, which records value on a per-play basis, wasn’t fond of Graham either, as he ranked just 28th out of 51 qualified tight ends. However, that was a higher finish than any of Baltimore’s tight ends from a year ago. The Ravens only have $10.5MM in available 2018 cap space, so adding any free agents might be tough unless general manager Ozzie Newsome & Co. release a few veterans or restructure contracts.

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

  • Dean Pees quickly accepted an offer to become the Titans’ defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Vrabel shortly after “retiring” as the Ravens‘ DC, leading to questions about whether Pees was forced out of Baltimore. However, Pees said today that wasn’t the case, per Hensley (Twitter link). Pees helped the Ravens to the No. 3 defensive DVOA ranking a season ago, so it would have been surprising if head coach John Harbaugh removed Pees from his staff. Although Tennessee now employs a defensive head coach in Vrabel, Pees is expected to call the plays for the Titans.
  • With a solid core in place, the Steelers‘ personnel plan involves inking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a multi-year extension and signing running back Le’Veon Bell in the short-term, argues Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Roethlisberger wants to play for at least three more seasons, so Pittsburgh can reduce his 2018 cap charge by giving him a new signing bonus, the cap hit of which would be spread across multiple seasons. Bell, meanwhile, has a “conviction to set a healthier market for running backs,” but has indicated he’d accept the franchise tag next season.
  • Keeping stability among their most talented players is essential for the Steelers, but so is ensuring continuity on a staff that parted ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley earlier this year. Head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t going anywhere, but as for the reports indicating a Steelers minority ownership group had pushed for Tomlin’s firing“I didn’t get that letter yet,” Steelers majority owner Art Rooney II sad, per Fowler (Twitter link). “I don’t know if it got lost in the mail or it’s coming by Pony Express.”
  • The Steelersone-year extension for punter Jordan Berry is worth $1.887MM, per salary cap guru Ian Whetstone (Twitter links). Berry had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and his new contract will pay him roughly the same as an original round tender. RFA tenders must increase by at least 5% each year, and given that last year’s low tender was worth $1.797MM, Berry’s salary is now equal to the 2017 original round tender plus that 5%. As such, it’s possible the Steelers have added a mechanism to Berry’s contract that will increase his pay when the tender amount is officially announced by the NFL, per Whetstone. For what it’s worth, Over the Cap projects the 2018 original round tender to come in at $1.908MM.
  • Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake will not return to team in 2018, as he indicated in a statement released by Pittsburgh that he’ll move home to California as his son finishes high school. Lake is longtime Steelers fixture, as he earned multiple Pro Bowl nods and was named to one All-Pro team during his decade-long career in the Steel City. He was hired to serve as Pittsburgh’s secondary coach in 2011, and that role comprises the sum of his coaching experience. Lake is only 50 years old, so there’s a chance he returns to the coaching ranks down the road.

Steelers Sign Jordan Berry To Extension

The Steelers and Jordan Berry have agreed to an extension. The new deal will keep the punter in place through the 2018 season. Jordan Berry (vertical)

[RELATED: Le’Veon Bell Not Interested In Jets?]

It’s pretty exciting to get it all finished, get it all sorted out, and get it done early,” said Berry in a press release. “I love being in Pittsburgh so I am excited to have it done. I don’t have to think about it. I can just focus on training and getting ready for next season, which is the most important part of everything.”

Last year, Berry averaged 43.2 yards per punt, with a net of 39.8 yards. He also had 26 punts inside of the 20-yard line. It was a solid showing for Berry, who credits special teams coordinator Danny Smith for his continued improvement.

It’s a combination of him being on top of me, making sure I am putting the work in, as well as me having a few years of experience under my belt,” said Berry. “The combination has helped me improve in the time I have been here. Danny is there daily making sure we are doing the small things we need to do to get better. He has been coaching for a long time, so to have that experience helping us, myself, Kameron (Canaday) and (Chris Boswell), it’s beneficial.”

Re-signing Berry wasn’t necessarily priority No. 1 for Pittsburgh, but it does take an item off of the Steelers’ checklist this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Here are Tuesday’s minor transactions from around the NFL, with the latest minor moves added to the top of the list throughout the day:

  • Wide receiver Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender with the Seahawks, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and National Football Post. The 28-year-old Lockette appeared in all 16 of Seattle’s games in 2014 and made 11 catches.
  • A trio of exclusive rights free agents are now officially back under contract with the Ravens, the team announced today in a press release. According to the club, safety Brynden Trawick, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen are now locked up for the 2015 season, having signed their one-year ERFA contract tenders.
  • The Steelers announced today that they’ve signed former Eastern Kentucky punter Jordan Berry to a contract, giving the team three punters on its offseason roster (Twitter link). Berry will join Richie Leone and incumbent Brad Wing in the battle for the 2015 job.