Morgan Burnett

Browns Place Morgan Burnett On IR

07:56pm: Burnett underwent successful surgery today, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). He is expected to make a full recovery.

09:35am: Morgan Burnett‘s season is over. As feared, the Browns’ veteran safety tore his Achilles in Cleveland’s win over the Steelers on Thursday, and the club announced that it has placed Burnett on IR.

It’s an especially difficult blow for Burnett, who missed some time due to injury earlier in the season as well. But he played all of the Browns’ defensive snaps in Weeks 8 through 10, and he was having a great night against Pittsburgh in Week 11, piling up five tackles — including one tackle for loss — and a big interception before suffering the Achilles tear. Burnett had been relegated to a part-time role as a member of the Steelers in 2018, but he had returned to a starter’s workload with Cleveland.

The 4-6 Browns were already going to have an uphill climb to make the playoffs, but that task will be even more difficult without Burnett on the back end of the defense and without the suspended Myles Garrett in the trenches. The Browns already cut safety Jermaine Whitehead earlier this year after he went on a Twitter tirade, so they could look outside the organization for a replacement for Burnett (they did work out several safeties yesterday). If not, Eric Murray, Juston Burris, or rookie Sheldrick Redwine are the current internal candidates on the 53-man roster.

Cleveland has Burnett under club control through the 2020 season after signing him to a two-year, $7.5MM deal in April. He ends his first Browns season with 41 tackles, one interception, and two sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns’ Morgan Burnett Done For Year?

Browns safety Morgan Burnett is believed to have suffered a torn Achilles in Thursday night’s win over the Steelers, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter) hears. He will have an MRI today to confirm, but it is expected that he will be ruled out for the rest of the season.

Before the injury, Burnett logged five tackles and an interception against his old friends in Pittsburgh. After being relegated to a part-time role in his one Steelers season, Burnett has been a full-time starter in Cleveland.

For the year, Burnett has 41 tackles, two sacks, and the aforementioned INT. Currently in his tenth year, the injury leaves his NFL future in a bit of limbo.

Burnett inked a two-year, $7.5MM deal with the Browns in April, which theoretically keeps him under contract through next season. However, the Browns could release Burnett and save $3.5MM against just $1.325MM in dead money.

To date, Burnett has made 121 career appearances (including 112 starts) for the Packers, Steelers, and Browns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Steelers, Burnett, Lions

If you’ve missed the latest Thursday-night game, injuries have limited the Steelers. Pittsburgh lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner; the former suffered a concussion and the latter re-injured the AC joint that sidelined him for the past two games. Both are out for the rest of the Browns game, as are cornerback Artie Burns and wideout Diontae Johnson (due to a knee injury and a concussion, respectively). This is Smith-Schuster’s third known concussion since coming into the league. He suffered two as a rookie in 2017.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Both of the Browns‘ starting safeties are out of tonight’s game. Shortly before Damarious Randall was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit, the Browns lost Morgan Burnett. The ex-Packers and Steelers defender suffered what the Browns fear is a significant Achilles injury, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). After being relegated to a part-time role in his one Pittsburgh season, Burnett has been a full-time starter in Cleveland.
  • The NFL is looking into the Lions‘ handling of Matthew Stafford‘s back injury, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes. Multiple Lions players were informed Saturday that Stafford would not play, but Detroit had called the quarterback a game-time decision. Stafford has been playing through back pain all season. The league requires teams to update their injury reports if it has been decided, prior to a team’s stadium arrival, a player will not play.
  • With Michael Pierce battling an injury, the Ravens bolstered their defensive tackle corps with two veteransDomata Peko and Justin Ellis.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Steelers

David Njoku currently resides on the Browns‘ IR list, but for the time being, the third-year tight end has a chance to return in 2019. Njoku has opted not to have surgery on his broken wrist, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The earliest Njoku could return would be for the Browns’ Week 12 game against the Dolphins. Cleveland has 2019 additions Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones in place atop its tight end depth chart. The Browns must decide on Njoku’s fifth-year option by May of 2020.

Here is the latest out of Cleveland, along with other AFC North cities:

  • The Browns’ defense is facing more pressing matters. Both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams pulled hamstrings during practice Thursday, per Cabot. They missed the Rams game. Interestingly, reserve safety Sheldrick Redwine pulled a hamstring that day as well. The Browns played without their four secondary starters — Ward, Williams, Damarious Randall (concussion) and Morgan Burnett (quadriceps). However, Cabot adds that Randall is out of concussion protocol. Burnett was questionable last week. Hamstring injuries are obviously tricky for skill players and those charged with covering them, but Cleveland’s safeties seem in line to return for Week 4 against the Ravens.
  • While no one obviously expected Shaquil Barrett‘s virtuoso start, only two teams even submitted contract offers this offseason. In addition to the Bucs’ one-year, $4MM deal, the Bengals also offered Barrett a contract, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. Barrett visited the Bengals but did not meet with the Bucs before his agreement. A four-year backup in Denver, Barrett sought a starting role in free agency. He’s found one, and his eight sacks through three games match an NFL record. It’s early, but the former UDFA who began his career at a now-defunct Division II program is putting himself in position for a major payday — either via Bucs extension or as a 2020 free agent.
  • The Bengals worked out some defensive backs on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Greg Mabin, Picasso Nelson and Deatrick Nichols joined corner/safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun in auditioning for the team, per the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).
  • The Steelers auditioned tight end Alize Mack, according to Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (on Twitter). Vance McDonald was present Tuesday with his arm in a sling, pointing to Pittsburgh suddenly needing help at this position.

Browns GM John Dorsey On Key Players, Draft Plans

Browns GM John Dorsey addressed the media this morning and provided a number of noteworthy tidbits. Here are some highlights (compiled via the Twitter accounts of Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com):

On the status of RB Duke Johnson, who requested a trade a few weeks ago:

Dorsey said that Johnson’s trade request does not change how the club views him, and that he still envisions a key role for Johnson in the Browns’ offense. Johnson has not been with the team since the offseason workout program began on April 1, but there has been communication between the team and Johnson’s agent. There is still no word on whether Johnson will report for mandatory minicamp in June, but it sounds as though Dorsey is not particularly keen to honor Johnson’s trade request at this time (which means there may not be a particularly large market for his services).

On trading into the first round:

Dorsey did not rule out the possibility of getting his club back into the first round of this year’s draft, and he acknowledged the benefit of getting the potential fifth-year option for a top collegiate prospect. He said he has talked to teams picking in the bottom of the first round about a potential trade, but he added that he always does that as a part of his due diligence. The Browns’ first draft choice this year is the No. 49 overall selection, so they would need to give up a lot to jump at least 17 spots into the first round.

On Odell Beckham Jr.:

Dorsey said OBJ has not reported to the team for voluntary workouts, but he does not sound concerned. He said it would be nice to have the star receiver present, but he added that Beckham is a professional who understands what he needs to do to get ready for the season.

On Kareem Hunt:

Dorsey said that Hunt has “worked his fanny off” both with the team and in the community, and he is impressed with the progress Hunt has made.

On Morgan Burnett:

Dorsey sees the newly-acquired defender as the Browns’ starting strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Sign Morgan Burnett

The Browns are set to sign former Packers and Steelers safety Morgan Burnett, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. The veteran was not happy with the way he was used in Pittsburgh last year, but he’ll now have an opportunity to compete for the club’s starting job at strong safety. Burnett will receive a two-year deal that can max out at roughly $9MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Browns’ filled a need at wide receiver when they acquired Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants, but they also created a need at strong safety by giving up Jabrill Peppers in the deal. They got even more thin at safety recently when they released Derrick Kindred, so Burnett should have an opportunity to shine in Cleveland. He’ll duke it out with Eric Murray, who just came over in the Emmanuel Ogbah deal with the Chiefs, for the right to play opposite of free safety Damarious Randall, his former Packers teammate.

The club also plans to sign former AAF quarterback Garrett Gilbert, Cabot adds (Twitter link). Before he was displaced by the spring league’s abrupt stoppage, Gilbert spent time with the Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, and Panthers. He has just three career passes in the NFL, but evaluators regarded him as one of the best QBs in the AAF.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Release S Morgan Burnett

The Steelers released safety Morgan Burnett, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Burnett requested his release back in January, so he’s undoubtedly excited to have his freedom. 

Pittsburgh signed Burnett to a three-year, $14.35MM contract early in the 2018 free agency period, well before most other safeties of his ilk agreed to deals. That probably worked to Burnett’s benefit as the safety market was a huge letdown for other veterans at the position.

However, things didn’t click for Burnett in Pittsburgh. The Steelers employed him mostly as a dime linebacker, but he was not comfortable with playing close to the line of scrimmage. Instead, Burnett will seek to join a team that will bring him back to a traditional safety role. The Browns, who just waived Derrick Kindred, could be a fit.

Burnett started just two of the eleven games he played with the Steelers. Before that, he started every game he played as a Packer. Burnett’s usage (390 snaps) lagged well behind younger Steeler safeties Sean Davis (981 snaps) and first-round pick Terrell Edmunds (968).

By cutting Burnett, the Steelers will save $3.63MM against the cap, but it comes with a substantial $2.8MM dead money hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns May Have Interest In Morgan Burnett

The Browns are a team to watch for safety Morgan Burnett if/when he’s released by the Steelers, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Burnett asked for his release in January after playing on only 37% of the Steelers’ snaps during his first year in Pittsburgh, and it sounds like the club is willing to grant his request. However, general manager Kevin Colbert said last week that he’ll first attempt to trade Burnett before cutting him loose. So far, the Steelers haven’t had any luck moving Burnett, who has two years and $9MM in base salaries remaining on his contract.

As Fowler notes, Cleveland makes sense a potential landing spot for Burnett on multiple levels. First, many of the Browns’ decision-makers, including general manager John Dorsey, executives Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith, and defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt, were in Green Bay when Burnett was originally drafted. Second, Cleveland is in the market for a safety to pair with Damarious Randall after trading Jabrill Peppers to the Giants in order to land Odell Beckham Jr.

Burnett was a full-time starter from 2011-17, but he’s now entering his age-30 campaign and has missed a total of nine games ov over the past two seasons. Last year, Burnett appeared in 11 games but made only two starts, posting 30 tackles and six pass defensed while ranking as the NFL’s No. 53 safety among 93 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Trying To Trade S Morgan Burnett

The Steelers are going to have another high profile departure. Pittsburgh plans to release safety Morgan Burnett sometime before April 1st, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Pittsburgh is still attempting to trade Burnett, as general manager Kevin Colbert explained to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Twitter link). But if the Steelers aren’t able to find a trade partner willing to take on Burnett, Colbert confirmed the club will release the veteran defensive back.

According to Burnett’s agent, the safety requested the move. A source told Fowler that “the team and player discussed trade possibilities before the release.” We heard a couple of months ago that Burnett was unhappy and wanted to be released, and now he’s getting his wish, although a bit later than he had hoped.

The safety market has been very active and was crowded to begin with, and there are still some big names available like Tre Boston and Eric Berry. As such, Burnett might have to wait a little while before finding a new home. Burnett apparently wanted to be released because he didn’t like that the Steelers were playing him at linebacker at times, and wanted to go to a team where he could be a full-time safety again.

When the move becomes official, Burnett will have made it just one year into the three-year, $14.5MM pact he signed last March. Burnett is 30 now, and not the player he once was with the Packers. He also missed five games with injury last year, and four games the year before that. Th 2010 third round pick had six passes defended and 30 tackles last year in his part-time role, although he did still receive slightly above average marks from Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Burnett, Colts, Ware, Patriots

A year after leaving Iowa State to join Frank Reich‘s Colts staff, Tom Manning is heading back to the college ranks. Indianapolis’ tight ends coach will depart and rejoin Matt Campbell‘s Cyclones staff, according to Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. Manning was Iowa State’s offensive coordinator from 2016-17 and will once again serve in that role, Keefer notes, adding the Colts hoped he would stay. The Cyclones did not have an OC this past season. One of Manning’s charges had one of the most surprising showings of 2018, with Eric Ebron‘s 13 touchdown receptions breaking Dallas Clark‘s Colts record for tight ends. Ebron’s 14 total touchdowns were the third-most in a season in NFL history. The Colts are looking to replace offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and assistant O-line coach Bobby Johnson. The tight ends job joins the vacancy list.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Morgan Burnett seeks a Steelers release, in hopes of landing with a team that will use him as a pure safety. The Steelers often deployed Burnett as a dime linebacker, but younger safeties Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis saw far more playing time. Pittsburgh coaches knew Burnett did not like his role, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, adding the longtime Packers starter was moved off full-time safety duties because of recurring injuries. Burnett played in only 11 games this season. Despite signing for three years and more than $14MM, Burnett will not be getting his safety job back over Davis or Edmunds, per Dulac.
  • DeMarcus Ware served as a pass-rushing consultant for the Broncos this season, but the future Hall of Famer’s role with the Vic Fangio-led staff is not certain. Fangio will spend time coaching Denver’s outside linebackers and hired Brandon Staley to oversee that position, leaving Ware with potentially less to do. However, the former Broncos starter wants to return and would like to do more if asked to come back, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A key Ware 2018 task was mentoring Bradley Chubb, who promptly broke Von Miller‘s record for sacks by a Broncos rookie with 12. Regardless of Ware’s Broncos employment, Jhabvala notes he plans on working with some of Denver’s players in the offseason.
  • While the Patriots are likely going to have to pay a premium to retain Trey Flowers, another key contributor has enhanced his profile during the latest New England Super Bowl run. Trent Brown will be a top-tier free agent, per ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert, who rates the Patriots left tackle as the No. 7 UFA-to-be in the 2019 class (ESPN+ link). With most of the players listed above Brown unlikely to hit the market, the massive blocker may be in line for a top-level contract. Seifert lists Flowers as the No. 9 free agent.