Matt Feiler

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

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/18/16

Tuesday’s minor moves from around the NFL:

  • The Steelers announced that they have signed offensive tackle Brian Mihalik to the team’s active roster off the Lions‘ practice squad. To make room, offensive lineman Matt Feiler was cut loose. Mihalik spent the 2016 offseason and part of training camp with Pittsburgh.
  • The Panthers have re-signed tight end Scott Simonson, as Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets. To make room for him, the Panthers have cut defensive end Lavar Edwards, who recorded one sack this year. As Person notes (Twitter link), that’s more than the combined total that starters Kony Ealy and Charles Johnson (0.5) have between them.
  • The Colts announced that they have elevated wide receiver Tevaun Smith from their practice squad to the 53-man roster. Smith will take the place of fellow wideout Quan Bray, who’s now on IR with an ankle injury (via Kevin Bowen of the team’s website). Bray has only three catches this year, but he is the Colts’ primary return man.
  • The Seahawks announced that they have placed defensive tackle Garrison Smith on IR and signed defensive tackle Sealver Siliga to the 53-man roster.
  • The Saints have released cornerback Tony Carter from IR, tweets Nick Underhill of the Advocate.

Steelers Place Golson, Harris On IR

Senquez Golson‘s Steelers debut might have to wait until 2017, depending on what happens with the team’s injury situation this season.

Pittsburgh placed the second-year cornerback on IR, where he will join backup tackle Ryan Harris, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). A preseason foot injury sidelined Golson, but the Steelers previously kept him on their active roster. The 2015 second-round pick spent the entirety of last season on IR.

This move isn’t entirely unexpected since Golson underwent foot surgery in early August, with the procedure’s rehab timeline hovering around four months. He missed all of last season due to an August shoulder operation. The Steelers can bring Golson back later in the year, but Golson has to miss at least eight weeks’ worth of games and six weeks’ worth of practices, per the tweaked IR rules.

Harris was injured against the Chiefs while starting for the ailing Marcus Gilbert at right tackle. He’d been the swing man behind Gilbert and Alejandro Villanueva this season after signing for two years and $3.9MM this offseason. The 31-year-old Harris began 2015 as the Broncos’ starting right tackle before injuries elsewhere relocated him to the left side, where he started the final 15 games for the Super Bowl champions.

Harris’ injury leaves Chris Hubbard as the Steelers’ starting right tackle Sunday against the Jets. Maurkice Pouncey took reps at right tackle this week despite having never played there in a game.

The Steelers replaced Harris and Golson on their roster with offensive lineman Matt Feiler and cornerback Al-Haj Shabazz, via practice squad promotions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers