Maurkice Pouncey

Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey, Chargers’ Mike Pouncey, Retire From NFL

Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey have retired from football. The Pouncey twins made the announcement on Friday, via Maurkice’s longtime teammate Ramon Foster (Twitter link).

It’s my honor that my brothers from another asked me to announce the next stage in their life. After over a decade Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey are retiring from the NFL,” Foster tweeted.

They came into the world together and they’re leaving the NFL together, but they actually turned pro in separate years. Maurkice entered the league in 2010 when the Steelers drafted him No. 18 overall. In 2011, the Dolphins tapped Mike with the No. 15 selection. They both went on to enjoy long careers as starting interior linemen, playing predominantly in the middle.

Maurkice spent his whole 11-year career with the Steelers and earned a reputation as one of the game’s best centers. He leaves the sport with nine Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections. Mike, meanwhile, was limited to nine seasons by injury, but still managed five Pro Bowl appearances.

We began this journey at 6 years old and now, at 31, we will close this chapter of our lives.” Mike wrote. “I am thankful for everything football has taught me and everywhere it has taken me! Dream big, kids, because [dreams] do come true..Never be afraid to make a mistake, learn from them, and fix it!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

While it sounds like Ben Roethlisberger is willing to meet the financial demands of owner Art Rooney II, those impending contract discussions still left some question marks about the quarterback’s future in Pittsburgh. Well, it sounds like Roethlisberger will have a say in roster construction, another indication that he’ll be back next season. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter) that Roethlisberger is set to meet with Rooney and head coach Mike Tomlin next month to discuss “what roster plans they have for the 2021 season.”

“Ben knows he has more left, but having key players back, like (Maurkice) Pouncey, will be important,” agent Ryan Tollner told Dulac (Twitter link). “Ben’s contract won’t hold things up. We told them immediately after the season we will make any necessary adjustment to help their cap situation in 2021.”

Earlier this week, we learned that Rooney wanted to reduce Roethlisberger’s $41.2MM cap hit for next season. We learned later that day that the quarterback’s camp was willing to oblige, and these recent quotes from Tollner seem to emphasize that they won’t be haggling over a contract. It sounds like the main sticking point will focus on what the Steelers do with the rest of their roster.

The organization is already projected to be more than $30MM over a $175MM cap, though it is not known how far the cap will drop from this year’s $198MM ceiling. Wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to hit free agency, and the Steelers front office will have to trim some more salaries (like, potentially, Pouncey’s) before the start of next season. While any hypothetical Roethlisberger restructuring would undoubtedly help the cause, the organization will still have to make tough decisions elsewhere on their roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Likely To Retire

Even assuming Ben Roethlisberger decides to play another year in 2021, this era of Steelers football is undeniably coming to an end. Long-time center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates he’s likely retiring, sources told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).

Dulac adds that barring a change of heart the official decision could come soon. It seemed like this was a strong possibility, especially after Roethlisberger’s actions after their playoff loss to Cleveland seemed to indicate he knew it would be his last game with Pouncey. Assuming nothing changes, it’ll wrap up a truly legendary career in Pittsburgh. Pouncey was the 18th overall pick back in 2010, and has spent his entire decorated career with the team.

He earned a Pro Bowl berth and second-team All-Pro selection as a rookie, and added plenty of other accolades over the next decade. All told, he’ll hang up his cleats having made nine Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams in 11 seasons. The only two years he didn’t make the Pro Bowl were when he only played one game in 2013 and missed the entire season in 2015.

Outside of those two injury-riddled campaigns he’s been pretty durable, starting at least 13 games in each of the other nine years. Pittsburgh’s O-line as a whole regressed this year, as the once dominant unit is getting up there in age.

It’s the second big retirement of the day after news of Greg Olsen calling it a wrap broke earlier Sunday. All of us here at PFR wish the Florida product all the best with whatever comes next.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Joe Haden Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Steelers look to be without another key defender to start the playoffs. Joe Haden tested positive for COVID-19, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports.

Already down Bud Dupree and Devin Bush for the season’s remainder, the Steelers now face the prospect of playing without their most proven cornerback to start the playoffs. Haden is out for Week 17 against the Browns and, due to the 10-day isolation period required after a positive coronavirus test, the 11th-year cornerback would not be able to return for the Steelers’ wild-card game.

Shortly after the Browns released Haden in 2017, the former first-round pick bounced back with the Steelers. He has signed two Pittsburgh contracts and returned to the Pro Bowl. Haden’s arrival helped key a Steelers late-2010s defensive resurgence, and the AFC North champions have relied on that unit this season. But the team will not be close to full strength defensively when it opens the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 3 or No. 2 seed next week.

Haden’s three-year Steelers extension runs through next season, though the 31-year-old defender’s cap number spikes from $9.6MM to $15.6MM in 2021. He has started 56 games since signing with the Steelers, including 14 this season. On 79 targets this season, Haden has allowed a 50.6 completion percentage; Pro Football Focus grades him 45th overall among corners.

In addition to Haden being out for a game the Steelers are not exactly going all-out to win, the team will sit T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers declared Ben Roethlisberger out earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/11/20

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/3/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

  • Claimed off waivers from Buccaneers: LB Jack Cichy

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers OL Maurkice Pouncey Restructures Contract

Another hour, another Steelers veteran restructuring their contract. This time, it’s offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN (via Twitter).

As the reporter points out, Pouncey was due a $5MM base salary in 2020, plus a $3MM roster bonus and a $3MM pro-rated bonus this year. Last offseason, Pouncey signed a two-year extension worth $22MM, setting him up to be the highest-paid center in the NFL (from an average annual value perspective).

The 30-year-old has spent his entire career with the Steelers, earning eight Pro Bowl nods and a pair of first-time All-Pro honors. Pouncey started all 13 of his games in 2019, and he missed a pair of games following the fallout from the Myles Garrett/Mason Rudolph brawl.

Pouncey joins a growing list of Steelers who have restructured their contracts in recent days. As Dulac points out, that list includes the likes quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Vance McDonald, cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson and kicker Chris Boswell. When also accounting for the team’s released players, the organization has already opened up around $35MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Eagles, Jacobs, Steelers, Hawks

Afflicted with injuries to their receiving corps for most of the season, the Eagles will be severely shorthanded on this front in their win-and-in game Sunday. In addition to Nelson Agholor missing another game, Zach Ertz is not ready to return. Carson Wentz‘s top target will miss Week 17 due to back and ribs injuries. Ertz left the Eagles’ Week 16 win, leaving second-year tight end Dallas Goedert as Wentz’s most proven target.

Here is the latest from Philadelphia and other contending teams’ injury situations going into the regular season’s final Sunday:

  • While the Eagles are stripped of their top three wide receivers and their premier tight end, Jordan Howard will return. The fourth-year running back missed Philadelphia’s past six games due to a shoulder injury. The Eagles’ leading rusher when the injury surfaced at the midseason point, Howard will rejoin a backfield that’s seen more from Miles Sanders and some contributions from Boston Scott.
  • Moving to another playoff hopeful’s running back situation, the Raiders will be without Josh Jacobs on Sunday in Denver. The team declared Jacobs out, meaning he will miss a third game in his past four. Their offensive rookie of the year candidate is battling a shoulder malady and a skin condition, the latter prompting him to undergo a minor surgery this week. Jacobs missed Week 14 and Week 16 due to a shoulder injury. Free agent-to-be DeAndre Washington has filled in well for Jacobs, amassing 202 scrimmage yards in those two games. The Raiders need to win and receive another Sunday of good fortune to make the playoffs.
  • One of the teams the Raiders need to lose Sunday will be shorthanded on the ground as well. James Conner will miss the Steelers‘ regular-season finale, joining Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in that regard. After missing a chunk of Pittsburgh’s season with a shoulder injury, Conner is now dealing with a quad problem. Pouncey is down due to a knee ailment.
  • Most of the non-Marshawn Lynch Seahawks news this week centers around the players who will not be available Sunday night, but the team will have some key players back in uniform. Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquill Griffin missed Seattle’s past two games but will be on the field in Sunday’s de facto NFC West championship game against San Francisco. Clowney is still battling the core issue that he initially played through but one that’s caused him to miss time.
  • The 49ers placed another defensive lineman on IR. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor will end his season on the injured list because of an ACL tear sustained in practice this week, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. A 2018 seventh-round pick, Taylor played in six 49ers games this season. Defensive linemen Taylor, Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones and Damontre Moore reside on San Francisco’s IR list.

NFL Upholds Myles Garrett’s Suspension

Myles Garrett‘s historic suspension will stand. The NFL upheld the indefinite ban handed down to the Browns defensive end for striking Mason Rudolph in the head with the Steelers quarterback’s helmet. However, Maurkice Pouncey‘s appeal will drop his penalty from three games to two, the league announced Thursday.

Pouncey will still miss the Steelers’ rematch with the Browns, which will occur in Week 13. Pouncey will also be fined $35K. The 10th-year center will miss out on two game checks but can return for Pittsburgh’s Week 14 game in Arizona. Garrett, however, is done for the regular season and any possible playoff games.

The standout defensive end must apply for reinstatement in the offseason. With Garrett firmly in the defensive player of the year conversation, this guts the Browns, who had won two straight. The league also will fine Garrett $45K. This comes a day after the league upheld Larry Ogunjobi‘s one-game suspension. Ogunjobi will be eligible to play in the AFC North rivals’ rematch next week.

In addition to Garrett’s side arguing that the CBA does not contain precise language stipulating a ban of this nature could occur for an on-field act, they cited Antonio Smith‘s one-game suspension for swinging his helmet at Richie Incognito in 2013. Garrett also alleged the Steelers quarterback used a racial slur. The Steelers and Rudolph’s attorney deny this. The NFL looked into Garrett’s racially charged accusation and did not find evidence to support the claim, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said (Twitter link).

Of course, Garrett striking Rudolph in the head during a nationally televised game obviously differentiates this sequence from the Smith-Incognito dust-up, which did not involve clear contact. Despite the former No. 1 overall pick making the Pro Bowl last season and building an All-Pro-caliber resume leading up to his now-infamous moment, this is certainly the former Texas A&M standout’s defining NFL act to date.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns-Steelers Brawl

NOV. 18: Per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Ogunjobi’s appeal will be heard Monday, and Pouncey’s appeal will be heard Tuesday. Schefter says that Garrett’s appeal will be heard on Wednesday (Twitter link). Schefter notes in a separate tweet that Garrett intends to be at the hearing to state his case in person.

NOV. 17: The NFL has suspended Browns defensive end Myles Garrett indefinitely, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Garrett will appeal the ban (Twitter link).

In case you haven’t heard, Garrett was the central figure in a horrific melee that broke out in the final moments of Thursday night’s contest between the Steelers and Browns. While both fanbases certainly have their own perspective on the matter, it’s clear that Garrett unnecessarily drove Steelers QB Mason Rudolph into the ground after Rudolph released a pass. The play could have been flagged — and may have been if the game were in doubt at that point or if there were more then eight seconds left — and Rudolph took exception to it.

Rudolph grabbed at Garrett’s helmet and kicked out at him, which caused Garrett to escalate the scuffle beyond what anyone could have reasonably expected, yanking Rudolph’s helmet off of him and striking him over the head with it. That naturally led to a scrum between both clubs that saw Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (three games) and Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi (one game) receive suspensions. Rudolph, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi were all fined, and obviously Garrett will be fined as well.

As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, more fines will be coming for Rudolph and others. While NFL head of football operations Troy Vincent and his team initially reviewed the footage of the brawl with a focus on who committed offenses worthy of a suspension, they will now comb through the tape to determine the full amount of fines (and what other players may deserve them). Vincent says there will certainly be another wave of fines on the way, and both the Steelers and Browns have been hit with $250K sanctions.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says the appeals for Garrett, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi will be heard on Monday and Tuesday by jointly-appointed officers Derrick Brooks and James Thrash. The rulings are expected no later than Wednesday. Schefter adds in a separate report that at least 10 players will be fined, and that the announcement will be issued next weekend.

Per Rapoport, Garrett’s camp will argue that the CBA does not allow for indefinite suspensions for on-field acts and that the league should impose a ban for a finite number of games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.