Matt Feiler

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Ravens

Odell Beckham Jr. will be good to go when the Browns convene for training camp. Kevin Stefanski confirmed the three-time Pro Bowl wideout has 100% recovered from the core muscle surgery he underwent earlier this offseason, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Beckham battled this problem for much of last season, often not being able to practice until Fridays, while also navigating a hip injury. While the star receiver suited up for 16 games — after failing to do so in three of his five Giants seasons — OBJ did not develop much of a rapport with Baker Mayfield. In Year 2 with the Browns, Beckham attended the team’s virtual offseason meetings. He skipped much of Cleveland’s onsite OTAs last year.

Jarvis Landry also underwent winter surgery — a hip procedure — and is behind Beckham in recovery. Stefanski expects his other Pro Bowl wideout to be healthy at some point in August. So it appears Landry will miss some time in camp, and Stefanski said he would be cautious with Beckham as well. Moving away from Cleveland, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will begin training camp with right tackle Matt Feiler at left guard (Twitter link via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). The Steelers need a new left guard after Ramon Foster‘s retirement. However, a Feiler position switch would create a hole at right tackle — where he started 16 games last season. The Steelers signed Stefen Wisniewski as a possible Foster replacement, and Dulac does not expect Feiler to ultimately make the move to guard. Should Feiler be a genuine option at left guard, third-year tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and fourth-year blocker Zach Banner would compete for the Steelers’ right tackle gig.
  • Both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are in contract years. While nothing has transpired on the Conner extension front, Dulac expects the Steelers to extend Smith-Schuster and avoid the franchise tag to do so. The Steelers have displayed an excellent ability to identify receiver talents for many years and have often let starters walk in free agency (Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace) or traded them (Santonio Holmes, Martavis Bryant). But the team does not have a veteran contract in its current receiver stable, leaving the door open for JuJu to get paid.
  • The Ravens have several standouts either in contract years (Matt Judon, Ronnie Stanley), extension-eligible now (Marlon Humphrey) or set to become free to negotiate in 2021 (Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews). John Harbaugh is optimistic the team will be able to keep some key players, even as the threat of a reduced 2021 salary cap looms. “We’ll keep as many guys as we can,” Harbaugh said, via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (subscription required). “I’m very optimistic about the fact that we have a good cap situation going forward. We have not been in good cap shape for the last six years or so. Really, seven years. Every year, we’ve been behind the eight ball with the cap. That’s just the way it was. This year was a little better, and next year will be a lot better.”

Steelers’ OT Matt Feiler Signs Tender

Steelers offensive tackle Matt Feiler has signed his one-year restricted free agent tender, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Steelers cuffed Feiler at the second-round level earlier this year to ward away other teams.

Per the terms of the tender, Feiler is now set to earn $3.27MM this year. If another club signed him to an offer sheet and the Steelers declined to match, that club would have had to forfeit a second-round pick. As good as Feiler is, that was too high of a price tag for other teams.

Feiler, 28 in July, came into the league as an undrafted free agent with the Texans. His time in Houston aside, he’s pretty much spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. Feiler cracked the starting lineup in 2018 and, last year, he was first-string for all 16 of the Steelers’ games. For his work, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 20th best tackle in the entire league out of 80 qualified players.

With a repeat performance, Feiler could be in line for a much bigger pay bump in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Place Second-Round Tender On OT Matt Feiler

The Steelers have placed a second-round tender on offensive tackle Matt Feiler, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter).

Besides a brief stint with the Texans, Feiler has spent most of his career with Pittsburgh. The lineman has earned more responsibility each season, leading to him starting a career-high 16 games this past season.

In total, the 27-year-old has appeared in 32 career games (27 starts).

The Steelers have been busy with their impending restricted free agents. Earlier this evening, the organization placed a second-round tender on cornerback Mike Hilton.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Bills, Steelers

Bill Belichick did something he had never done before when he drafted N’Keal Harry 32nd overall in April. During his time in New England, the Patriots had never drafted a receiver in the first round before, so they must’ve been high on the Arizona State product. That being said, Harry won’t be handed anything because of his draft status. Plenty of receivers have come and gone without making much of an impact on the Pats, so Nick Underhill of The Athletic tracked a few of them down to see what advice they might have for Harry.

Underhill talked to 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson, 2004 fifth-round pick P.K. Sam, and Chad Johnson, who joined the team toward the end of his career in 2011. Underhill asked them about their advice for working with Belichick and Brady and Jackson, one of the Patriots’ biggest draft busts, had some interesting comments. “Some people say Brady’s an asshole, and he can be at times – everybody can be an asshole at times,” he said. “The guy wants perfection. He wants everything done right. I’m sure he makes his mistakes too, but it’s not like everybody else.”

Jackson said Harry will have to be prepared for a lot, and that he wasn’t ready for it. “I think I went to the wrong organization when I first got drafted,” he said. “They expected a lot from you, which is, of course, OK, but I think they put the expectations a little bit higher than for any type of rookie coming in.” All of them stressed that developing a chemistry and a relationship with Brady were important, with Johnson saying he “didn’t really have time to come in and build that currency with Tom.” The whole piece is worth a read, and provides an interesting glimpse into life on the Patriots. Harry should have an easier time than any of those three did, but it’s not a given.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Bills made overhauling their offensive line a priority this offseason. Josh Allen spent most of his rookie year running for his life, so it makes sense. The team made some high profile signings like Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long, but they also added Quinton Spain. Spain is competing for a starting spot at one of the two guard positions, and his cause got hurt by a thumb injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of spring practices. Fortunately for him, Spain is expected to be ready to go for the start of training camp, per Nate Mendelson of the team’s official site. Spain entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Titans back in 2015, and started at least 13 games in each of the past three years for them. He received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 35th-best guard. Spain is probably a favorite to win a starting job, and Buffalo’s offensive line looks on paper to be a lot better than it was last year.
  • Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers‘ longtime right tackle, was traded to the Cardinals this spring. That means the Steelers will have a new right tackle, and most have assumed it’ll be Matt Feiler. Feiler filled in for an injured Gilbert, and ended up starting ten games last year. But while he’s the favorite, Feiler isn’t taking it for granted and is insisting it’ll be an open competition. “I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler said earlier this offseason, per Mike Prisuta of the team’s official site. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.” “It’s up for grabs,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough battle.” While the comments are interesting and suggest we may have to pay attention to the position in camp, it would still be a surprise if Feiler isn’t starting Week 1. While he took the majority of first-team reps, Prisuta does note that he rotated some with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor during spring work. Feiler is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Bloomsburg University, who had only started one game before last year.
  • In case you missed it, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders is looking uncertain for the start of the season.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/7/19

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive rights free agent tender decisions:

RFAs

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

North Notes: Mayfield, Steelers, Moore

Browns fans enjoyed the chance to see a matchup between the quarterback most assumed they’d select vs. the one they actually did on Thursday, and Baker Mayfield won the first round between he and Sam Darnold. The USC-developed passer loomed as the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall for months, until Mayfield buzz increased during draft week. However, it wasn’t that tough of a decision for John Dorsey, with Terry Pluto of cleveland.com noting the new Browns GM had a “far higher” grade on Mayfield than Darnold. Both Pluto and cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot write that a return to Tyrod Taylor as the starter doesn’t make sense, with Cabot adding the months-long stance to start Taylor over Mayfield was made by both Dorsey and Hue Jackson. After the Browns’ 21-17 win over the Jets, Dorsey, per Cabot, was overheard saying to owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, “I think I picked the right one,” appearing to reference the controversial Mayfield-over-Darnold selection.

Here’s the latest out of the North divisions:

  • Sterling Moore has a workout scheduled with the Bears for next week, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. A former Saints, Cowboys and Buccaneers starter, Moore failed to make the Lions’ 53-man roster out of training camp. The 28-year-old cornerback played six games with the Saints last season, his second stint in New Orleans.
  • The Steelers‘ corner situation will see a boost in a bigger-than-expected spot Monday night. Joe Haden appears set to return for Pittsburgh after missing Week 2, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio tweets. Haden practiced fully on Saturday. Morgan Burnett, however, doesn’t look likely to suit up Monday. The Steelers listed their recently signed safety as doubtful to face the Buccaneers.
  • Pittsburgh’s reeling on its offensive line. David DeCastro will miss his second straight game because of the fractured right hand he suffered in Week 1. Marcus Gilbert is doubtful for Week 3 because of a hamstring malady. The Steelers declared DeCastro out, and the Associated Press notes B.J. Finney will start in his place. Matt Feiler is in line to start at right tackle for Gilbert, per the AP. The Steelers struggled to produce much on the ground in Week 2 without some key pieces, with James Conner being held to 17 rushing yards after a 135-yard debut in Cleveland. Of course, the Chiefs’ 21-0 start forced the Steelers to pass much more often than they would have otherwise done.
  • The Ravens did not make a move to adjust their cornerback situation on Saturday, meaning they’ll be down to four healthy players at this spot against the Broncos on Sunday. Rookie Anthony Averett will miss Week 3, Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun notes. This may force rookie UDFA Darious Williams into action. Although, Baltimore’s still in relatively good shape despite Averett and Jimmy Smith‘s absences. Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young are available.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Okorafor, Bengals

Rumored to be a potential option to succeed Joe Thomas at left tackle, Joel Bitonio‘s heard an important voice that doesn’t believe this is a good idea. As a result, the Browns‘ post-Thomas battle is likely to come down to third-year player Shon Coleman, last season’s full-time right tackle, second-round pick Austin Corbett and possibly former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson.

He is an elite guard, one of the top 4-5 in the league,” Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie said of Bitonio, via Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. “You put him at tackle and he becomes … what … just a tackle.”

Although Corbett succeeded Bitonio as Nevada’s left tackle and started for four years, he’s a bit behind Coleman for the job at present, Wylie said. The Browns, though, also signed Robinson this week and view him as a reclamation project. Not unlike other teams who have taken chances on underwhelming high draft picks, the Browns believe Robinson has “freakish” athletic ability and believe with proper coaching he can grow into a solid blocker, Pluto notes. In 395 snaps with the Lions last season, the former Auburn standout graded as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time tackle.

Here’s the latest from some of the Browns’ top rivals.

  • The Bengals are set on the left side of their offensive line, with Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling and Billy Price entrenched as starters. With 2015 high draft picks Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, along with Giants castoff Bobby Hart, involved in the right tackle competition, Cincinnati perhaps has less certainty about who will play right guard. Former UDFAs Trey Hopkins and Alex Redmond, and 2016 fifth-rounder Christian Westerman, are going to vie for that spot, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. PFF’s No. 41 tackle in 2017, Hopkins is the incumbent, playing 707 snaps last season and starting 12 games.
  • Continuing this afternoon’s theme of AFC North offensive lines, the Steelers appear to be close to slotting Chukwuma Okorafor as the swing tackle behind Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers may be leaning toward placing Matt Feiler in as a backup interior lineman, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. A third-round pick, Okorafor would then be in line to replace Chris Hubbard, the new Browns right tackle, in that swing job. “Chuks, we drafted that guy for that reason,” Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak said. “Now the young guy gets a chance kind of like Al a few years ago. And last year, Chris Hubbard got the opportunity with Marcus out. We’ve got a lot of time to work with him. Right now, that’s our guy going forward.” Gilbert’s contract expires after the 2019 season, and although Ben Roethlisberger would prefer he be re-signed in advance of his walk year, the high-end right tackle has dealt with injuries and a suspension in recent years and will be 31 in February.
  • While it’s unlikely Jordan Dangerfield will be able to keep first-round pick Terrell Edmunds off the field, he exited the Steelers’ offseason program as a first-string safety, per Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review. Morgan Burnett missed minicamp because of an injury Mike Tomlin deemed minor. Edmunds ran with the second-team defense but is expected to get looks at safety and linebacker for a Steelers team that was deficient at those spots at the end of last season. Dangerfield is a fifth-year player who hasn’t seen action since 2016.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/25/17

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2017 league year, with players joining their respective club’s offseason 90-man rosters:

Denver Broncos

New Orleans Saints

  • LS Jesse Schmitt (two-year deal)

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers