Kevin Colbert

Steelers Notes: Colbert, Tomlin, Burns, Haden

The Steelers staved off questions about Mike Tomlin’s job status, at least temporarily, by giving him a one-year extension recently. They didn’t do the same for GM Kevin Colbert, and that was apparently at his request. Colbert told reporters at training camp today that “he’s not getting an extension because he wanted to go year-to-year based on ‘personal request’ to organization,” per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fowler notes that Colbert is only under contract until May of 2020, and that the GM said his age could be a factor in whether or not he steps away. Colbert, 62, has been Pittsburgh’s front office head since 2010.

This is the first we’ve heard of any potential retirement for Colbert, so as Fowler points out, this is a “big development.” Steelers owner Art Rooney chimed in, saying “at this stage of the game, he’s really not looking to do any long-term planning,” per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We talked and we agreed he’d rather wait till after the season to talk about the contract.” Fowler noted in a follow-up tweet that Colbert indicated he could still be around for several more years, but he’s got “wiggle room” now. The Steelers have undergone a lot of change the last couple of years, and this would be another huge one.

Here’s more from Pittsburgh:

  • Tomlin’s job security has been a hot topic in recent years, and he’s one of the more polarizing coaches out there. He usually receives two-year extensions, so it was notable that this time around he only got one. When asked what he thought about that, Tomlin insisted it didn’t matter to him. “Nothing,” he told reporters, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “I really don’t think a lot about it to be quite honest with you. I focus on the task at hand, and if you do that, contractual things take care of themselves.” Tomlin has been the coach since 2007, but he’ll be under intense pressure to win in 2019. If the Steelers struggle, his seat will start getting awfully hot.
  • Tomlin’s old contract had an option year that was triggered due to hitting a certain number of wins, Dulac tweets. A source told Dulac that Tomlin’s new recently signed contract doesn’t have any similar provisions.
  • The Steelers don’t only have to worry about the contract situation of their coach and general manager, some players need to be decided on as well. Pittsburgh didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Artie Burns back in May, which led to a lot of speculation that he’d be cut. Burns was due an $800K roster bonus this weekend, so a decision was always going to have to be made right around now. Burns will in fact collect the $800K and he’ll be a member of the Steelers in 2019, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Burns hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but he did start six games last year and all 16 the year before that.
  • In the same tweet, La Canfora notes that the team is “working on extending” cornerback Joe Haden. Haden is entering the final year of the three-year, $27MM deal he signed after being released by the Browns back in 2017, and we heard a couple of days ago that the two sides had begun talking.

Steelers, Antonio Brown Still In Talks

Although the odds Antonio Brown is wearing a different uniform are still fairly decent, the All-Pro wide receiver continues to talk with members of the Steelers front office.

The Steelers have yet to grant Brown or agent Drew Rosenhaus permission to seek a trade. During this time, however, Brown has maintained a steady dialogue with some Steelers personnel executives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link), adding that the relationship remains solid between Brown and some members of the front office.

However, Brown has not discussed his situation with Kevin Colbert or Mike Tomlin, Rapoport adds. Nor has Brown returned Art Rooney II‘s phone calls since the season ended, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

As of Monday, Brown’s preference is still to be traded. Brown has been most connected to the 49ers, the latest link being a Photoshopped image of a No. 84 49ers jersey. But not much has developed on that front since rumors the Steelers might initiate trade talks surfaced.

Brown and Tomlin obviously did not leave things in a good place after the season ended. But Rooney appears to have softened his stance about the 30-year-old superstar returning to Pittsburgh in 2019. Brown still has some support in the Steelers’ locker room as well. Rooney, however, added the caveat of likely needing to hear some sort of an apology from Brown for his Week 17 actions if the parties will move forward together.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Bucs

David Tepper‘s $2.275 billion Panthers purchase price was not the high bid during this process. Albert Breer of SI.com reports Ben Navarro‘s bid came in closer to Jerry Richardson‘s desired $2.6 billion price. But NFL owners had long preferred Tepper, a part-owner of the Steelers, to Navarro. Richardson wanted the team to go to a Carolinian, and Navarro is a Charleston, S.C., native. However, Tepper was able to make his bid mostly in cash, whereas Navarro had to bring in partners some in the league’s power structure found unsatisfactory. The NFL “didn’t trust his money,” Breer writes, paving the way for Tepper. A credit card company mogul, Navarro encountered scrutiny from other owners, to the point he had to hire a PR firm to navigate obstacles during this high-profile pursuit. Additionally, fellow bidder Michael Rubin assembled a group of potential buyers that turned off some owners, Breer reports.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South, which involves the highest-profile player in the NBA’s Pacific Division.

  • Rubin attempted to bring in Steph Curry, a Charlotte native, but the NBA nixed that, Breer reports. A Curry/Rubin venture would have violated an NBA bylaw that prevents players from forming business partnerships with owners from other teams. The Golden State Warriors’ two-time MVP would have been working with a part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in Rubin, and even though they would have been partners in another sport, that evidently wouldn’t have mattered.
  • Tepper will try to run the Panthers like the Steelers; he’s unlikely to change Carolina’s football operations at this point. In preparation for this entrance into the franchise-ownership game, Tepper consulted Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and VP of football and business administration Omar Khan about Panthers GM Marty Hurney and HC Ron Rivera. And Breer reports the Pittsburgh execs were staunch supporters of both Carolina decision-makers.
  • The Saints will convert UDFA tight end Nate Wozniak to tackle, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. A University of Minnesota product who caught just 28 passes in four seasons, the 6-foot-10 Wozniak weighed only 268 pounds at his pro day. He’s coming in north of 280 now and is aiming to get to 300, per Katzenstein, who adds other teams pursued Wozniak in hopes of converting him to tackle.
  • A Buccaneers staffer since 2014, Brian McLaughlin will ascend to the role of a national scout. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes McLaughlin will be part of National Football Scouting, of which 15 NFL teams are affiliated, and piece together early prospect rankings that help set up organizational scouting reports.

Steelers, Kevin Colbert Agree To Extension

First they gave a new deal to Mike Tomlin and now the Steelers have done the same with Kevin Colbert. The Steelers have reached agreement on a two-year extension with their GM that will take him through at least the 2020 NFL Draft. Kevin Colbert (Vertical)

[RELATED: Steelers Sign CB Joe Haden]

I am excited to announce we have extended Kevin Colbert’s contract for an additional two years,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “Kevin’s dedication and diligent work have played a major role in our success. We are pleased he will continue to lead our personnel efforts for at least the next three years.”

Colbert has been with the Steelers since February of 2000, meaning that he is in his 18th year with the organization. He spent the first eleven years as the club’s director of football operations before advancing to the GM position seven years ago. During his time with the Steelers, the team has won two Super Bowl championships, three AFC Championships, and eight division titles.

The Steelers prioritized extensions for both Tomlin and Colbert this offseason, though the coach beat the GM to the punch by signing his deal in early August. Tomlin’s deal is slightly longer as it goes through the 2020 season rather than the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Gordon

A few notes from the AFC North:

  • Financial details on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s newly minted contract extension are unavailable, but the belief is that he’s close behind the NFL’s highest-paid sideline leaders – New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll – in annual salary, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. While one of Tomlin’s superiors, general manager Kevin Colbert, could be in line for an extension of his own, owner Art Rooney II suggested Thursday that there’s no timetable to reach an agreement. “They’re not tied together in any sort of timing situation,” Rooney said. “I hate to speculate on contracts because they get done when they get done.”
  • A recent CBS Sports report suggested that Pittsburgh is interested in trading for Rams franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but “several Steelers sources laughed at that premise,” Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette writes. At $16.74MM, Johnson is the league’s top-paid corner. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ entire cornerback corps only makes $12.49MM.
  • When asked Thursday about a potential reinstatement for suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, commissioner Roger Goodell said it is “not under active consideration to my knowledge…at least it hasn’t gotten to my desk yet” (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). The 26-year-old was denied reinstatement by the league office in May and informed that he could not reapply again until the fall, so Goodell’s update here in August doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Broncos

Contract extensions may be in the offing for Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Colbert’s contract will expire after next year’s draft, while Tomlin is still under wraps for two more seasons. That’s typically when the Steelers have worked to extend their head coaches in the past, observes Bouchette. They’ve had just three since 1969, the year of Chuck Noll‘s hiring. Bill Cowher also came before Tomlin, who has mimicked those two with a resoundingly successful run in Pittsburgh. The Tomlin-led club has made the playoffs seven times out of 10, including last year, and hasn’t finished with fewer than eight wins in a season. Overall, the Steelers have gone 103-57 with a Super Bowl victory and two AFC championships under Tomlin.

More from the AFC:

  • One of Tomlin’s AFC North rivals, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, seems less secure in his role. Lewis is in a contract year, but owner Mike Brown indicated Tuesday that he’ll go at his own pace on a potential extension for the coach, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Still, Brown is satisfied with Lewis, who trails only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick in tenure among head coaches. “That should tell you how I feel about him. He has my respect, my regard, my confidence,” said Brown. “We’ve been through this before. Sometimes it was an additional prod. Heck, we all know how it went last year. We wish it had gone better, so maybe we’ll see a better year this year and things will sort out then.” The Bengals stumbled to a 6-9-1 mark in 2016, snapping a five-year playoff streak and giving them a 118-103-3 record during Lewis’ 14-season stint. Amazingly, the team has lost all seven of its postseason games with Lewis at the helm.
  • Even though he has been cleared for everything, Broncos coach Vance Joseph says that the team will be approaching things cautiously with Jamaal Charles in an effort to keep him fresh for the season. That makes James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) wonder if that means Charles has already made the team. For all of his career accomplishments, it has been said that Charles may only have a 50/50 shot of making the final cut.
  • The executive who signed Charles in free agency this year, John Elway, received a promotion when the Broncos awarded him a contract extension Monday, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. The Hall of Fame quarterback is now Denver’s president of football operations/general manager. He had been their executive VP of football operations/GM since 2011.
  • The Ravens had expressed interest in running back Bobby Rainey even before Kenneth Dixon went down with a meniscus injury, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore had been in contact with Rainey throughout the summer, per Hensley, but news of Dixon’s impending operation presumably sped up contract talks and led to his signing Tuesday. Rainey, who had also drawn interest from the Jets earlier this year, joins a backfield that includes Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Dallas Robinson and Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Browns, Gordon

Superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown reported to Steelers training camp Thursday and is both hopeful and confident that the team will address his contract before the regular season, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN. Brown – who has combined for 375 catches and 31 touchdowns the last three seasons – is woefully underpaid relative to his production (he’s due $14.96MM through 2017), though the Steelers don’t typically negotiate new deals with non-quarterbacks who have more than one year left on their contracts. “It has been the position of the organization and it has always been like that,” general manager Kevin Colbert said last summer in regards to the team’s policy. Based on Schefter’s report, the Steelers might make an exception after Brown tied for the league lead in receptions (136), finished second in yards (1,834) and found the end zone 10 times last season.

More news on Pittsburgh and one of its division rivals:

  • Speaking of Colbert, the Steelers awarded him an additional role as their vice president Thursday, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Colbert, 59, joined the Steelers as their director of football operations in 2000 and held that position until they promoted him to GM in 2010.
  • Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson addressed the return of newly reinstated receiver Josh Gordon on Thursday (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). “He in earnest wants to make the most of this opportunity, and he knows his situation and so we’re going to get around him, give him that opportunity,” Brown stated regarding Gordon, whom the league suspended for 29 of the Browns’ previous 48 regular-season games – including the entire 2015 campaign – because of substance abuse violations. Gordon will also sit out the first four games of this year. However, the highly talented 25-year-old has a clean slate with Jackson, who’s in his first season with the Browns. “I don’t have a lot of history with Josh that way,” said Jackson. “But his history is preceding him, and I think he knows that and I think the only way to deal with a player in these situations is to kind of hit the restart button for him and he has to go do it.”
  • The Browns have no plans to cut linebacker Armonty Bryant in the wake of his misdemeanor drug conviction, Brown said Thursday, as Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweets. An additional suspension could be coming for him, however. Bryant will already miss the first four games of the season because of a suspension.
  • In case you missed it, Cleveland defensive tackle Desmond Bryant will officially miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Draft Rumors: Dolphins, Steelers, Ravens

After trading down a few weeks ago, could the Dolphins trade back up? Miami will consider moving up from No. 13 in order to grab either Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott or UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, multiple sources tell Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Moving up from No. 13 to the top ten can be pricey, but top exec Mike Tannenbaum has said that he would be open to such a move for the right player.

Here’s are the latest NFL Draft rumors out of the AFC:

  • The Steelers, currently slated to pick 25th overall in this year’s draft, are unlikely to trade up, but moving down remains on the table, general manager Kevin Colbert said today (Twitter link via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
  • In the wake of the two major trades at the top of the draft, there’s a chance that Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil will still be on the board at No. 6 for the Ravens. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun explores that scenario, examining whether it would make sense for the club to pass up a top defensive prospect to fortify the left tackle spot.
  • The Chargers are expected to select a tight end at some point during this week’s draft — it’s just a matter of when. We heard last week that the team is considering Ohio State’s Nick Vannett, and Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune takes a closer look at the young tight end as a potential target for the Bolts.
  • Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson met with 15 teams in total, via either a pre-draft visit or private workout, and the Texans were one of those teams, writes Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Dolphins and Jets are among the teams that have shown interest in University of Minnesota cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), who suggests that Boddy-Calhoun will likely either be a day three pick or an undrafted free agent.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: QBs, Ramsey, Treadwell, Browns

Jalen Ramsey would prefer to play cornerback despite excelling at both secondary positions at Florida State, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports.

His preference for the higher-paying position, though, comes with the obvious caveat of being willing to play safety as well, possibly expressing malleability to increase his chances of being taken in the top three picks.

One AFC scout in attendance said, “Take your pick; either one” regarding Ramsey’s NFL fit. “He has the range; he’s got some length to him, and he has the ball skills,” the scout told O’Halloran regarding Ramsey’s ability to slot at free safety. “He has a lot of things going for him.”

Four GMs — the TitansJon Robinson, the SteelersKevin Colbert, the BuccaneersJason Licht and the BillsDoug Whaley — attended the pro day, while Mike Mularkey and Mike Tomlin were on hand as well.

Here’s the latest about this year’s crop of top prospects.

  • The 49ers and Browns are slated to work out Jared Goff, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reports (on Twitter). Both Hue Jackson and Chip Kelly were in attendance at the Cal quarterback’s pro day March 18.
  • San Francisco also has a workout scheduled with Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. The 49ers are expected to meet with Carson Wentz as well soon, as are the Browns, per Barrows. Cook is rated by most as the No. 4 quarterback on the board and could fall to the second round, while Wentz is expected to be chosen in the top 10. Colin Kaepernick‘s $11.9MM salary in 2016 becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the 49ers’ roster by 3 p.m., Thursday.
  • The Eagles plan to work out Wentz on Thursday, ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan tweets. Philadelphia’s brass observed Goff during a private workout on Monday. While these two passers have become the consensus top two quarterback prospects, Caplan hears from several NFL coaches and executives that Goff is better equipped to come in and contribute immediately (Twitter link).
  • Caplan also reports that one NFL offensive coordinator would sit Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, who hovers a bit below Goff and Wentz on experts’ draft boards as of now, for two seasons while the lanky talent learns the pro game (Twitter link).
  • Laquon Treadwell‘s 4.63-second 40-yard dash clocking at Ole Miss’ pro day didn’t necessarily shock scouts in attendance but caused some concerns about the first-round prospect’s long-term viability, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report hears (video link). The scouts Cole spoke with don’t believe the Ole Miss early-entry talent’s ability to get open effectively in the next four or five years will be affected by his lack of straight-line speed, but there are worries about whether Treadwell can have a long, successful career. The scouts expressed concern that once the rangy receiver loses some of his already-mediocre speed his route-running and body-positioning prowess won’t be enough to compensate.
  • The Browns are bringing in Treadwell for a visit Thursday, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Despite his lack of top-end speed, Treadwell is still expected to come off the board by the middle of the first round, which would be in the Browns’ range only if they traded down from their No. 2 overall slot or up from No. 32, Ulrich writes.
  • Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson visited the Browns today, Ulrich reports. Jackson told media at the owners’ meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., receiver is a position is an area the Browns “need to address, obviously,” as Josh Gordon‘s status for 2016 is still unknown. “I’ve gone on record before saying I like to have bigger, faster guys play the position,” Jackson told media. “We have some very talented guys right now. They’re slight in stature, but they’re tough, and I’m looking forward to working with them and see if there’s more that we can gain from them. But at the same time, I still think it’s an area that we need to get better. And we will.”

AFC Rumors: Pats, Osweiler, Raiders, Browns

The Patriots offered Tyrunn Walker a three-year deal as a non-tendered restricted free agent, but the defensive tackle opted to sign a one-year pact with the Lions instead. New England could have interest again, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss reports.

New Lions GM Bob Quinn, formerly the Patriots’ scouting director, knows his former team’s interest well, and Reiss wonders how much that will play into Detroit’s decision on whether to retain the fifth-year lineman. A broken leg limited Walker to four games last season.

Potentially as a result of the then-24-year-old Walker spurning their offer, the Pats used their first-round pick on Malcom Brown. They have starters Brown and 2014 first-rounder Dominique Easley under contract, with only Alan Branch looming as a free agent. A deal for Walker doesn’t seem to make as much sense for the Patriots as it did last year.

The Lions enter 2016 with more defensive tackle queries after the franchise faced major uncertainty last offseason, when Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley both bolted. Detroit’s follow-up plan included bringing in Walker from the Saints and trading for Haloti Ngata. Both are free agents now.

Walker remains in rehab mode after also dislocating his ankle in Week 4 against the Seahawks, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein writes that the Lions should use this as an opportunity to keep the talent entering his age-26 season on a one- or two-year deal, where he can prove he’s an elite talent.

Here’s some more from around the AFC.

  • Steelers GM Kevin Colbert‘s already stated he will remain true to Pittsburgh’s build-from-within model and is eyeing a production leap from one of the Steelers’ holdover defenders, similar to how Cameron Heyward ascended in 2014 and Stephon Tuitt last season. “We talked about that last year, the progression has to outpace the regression of some of the older guys,” Colbert told media, including Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think outside help will be important but also those young guys taking that next step.” Colbert singled out linebackers Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier, whom the Steelers used their past two first-round picks on, as potential ascending cogs. The Steelers, however, have fortified their front seven well, housing four first-round linebackers and signing Heyward to an extension last year. Pittsburgh’s pass defense slunk from 27th to 30th last season. Kaboly identifies second-year player Senquez Golson as a prime performer to elevate the Steelers’ pass defense from in-house. The 2015 second-rounder missed the entire season due to injury.
  • Given that the Browns are regularly early-first-round drafters but haven’t selected a quarterback in the top five since Tim Couch in 1999, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn’t envision the Browns trading out of their No. 2 spot. While there aren’t rock-solid top-five quarterbacks in this prospect pool as there have been in recent years, the Browns have better odds at drafting this class’ best quarterback since the Titans won’t take one at No. 1. Cleveland took three QBs at No. 22 overall in the past nine years — Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel — only for all to falter. Cabot points to the Browns’ trading down from No. 4 to No. 8 and ending up with Justin Gilbert instead of Sammy Watkins as an example that would make Cleveland hesitant to orchestrate such a maneuver with this kind of glaring need.
  • The Broncos shouldn’t give in to the escalating demands of the quarterback market in assessing their potential offer to free agent Brock Osweiler, Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post writes. Using recent contracts given to Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel, Kizsla recommends Denver offer Osweiler no more than $10MM per season, as the team’s proven it can win a Super Bowl with adequate quarterback play. Troy Renck of the Denver Post counters that Foles’ three-year, $36MM deal fits for Osweiler, who went 4-2 in games he started and played throughout, and that a $10MM offer would force Denver to scramble for lower-tier options like Robert Griffin III.
  • Mackensie Alexander or Eli Apple could be options for the Raiders at No. 14, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Raiders are thin at corner, with waiver claim David Amerson residing as their best in-house option. But Oakland’s safety situation needs work too. After Charles Woodson‘s retirement, the Raiders cut and then re-signed Nate Allen at a lower salary.