Steelers Rumors

Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

Steelers To Promote Matt Canada To OC

For the second time in four offseasons, the Steelers are preparing to promote their quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Matt Canada is expected to replace Randy Fichtner in that role, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

A career college coach until last season, Canada interviewed for the Dolphins’ OC position this week. But the Steelers evidently liked what they saw in Canada’s first year as their QBs coach.

While this is nominally the same as the Steelers promoting Fichtner to replace Todd Haley in 2018, Canada has only been with the franchise a year. Fichtner had worked with the team throughout Mike Tomlin‘s tenure. This promotion decision will involve a new voice rising to the top of Pittsburgh’s offensive staff.

Prior to joining the Steelers last year, Canada enjoyed a nomadic career at the college level. Although the 48-year-old coach became Maryland’s interim HC in 2018, Canada served as offensive coordinator at eight schools between the 1997 and 2017 seasons — including LSU, Wisconsin and North Carolina State.

Despite the Steelers’ 11-0 start, they deteriorated quickly. Pittsburgh’s run game became a stunning nonfactor down the stretch, and the offense overall ended up 24th in total yardage by season’s end. The Steelers committed five turnovers in their opening-round loss to the Browns, and they parted ways with Fichtner this week. With Ben Roethlisberger‘s future uncertain and multiple longtime starters due for free agency, the Steelers will turn to Canada in an attempt to get their offense back on track.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/15/21

Here are the latest reserve/futures contracts given out:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

  • QB Kyle Sloter

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Titans Interview Teryl Austin For DC Job

Teryl Austin is back on the defensive coordinator radar. The Titans have interviewed the veteran assistant for a DC role, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Working with the Steelers the past two years, Austin served as a defensive coordinator from 2014-18 — with the Lions and Bengals. He has coached the Pittsburgh secondary, while helping Mike Tomlin with game management, over the past two seasons.

Although the Titans held the Ravens to 20 points and registered five sacks in Sunday’s loss, they finished as the NFL’s worst third-down defense and recorded just 19 sacks this season. Following Dean Pees‘ retirement, Tennessee went without a true defensive coordinator this year. Outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen called defensive plays. Mike Vrabel referred to Bowen as a de facto defensive coordinator, but the team is interested in more experience on its defensive staff.

Austin’s 2014 Detroit defense fared quite well, ranking third in scoring and second in yards allowed. After Ndamukong Suh‘s Miami move, however, Detroit’s unit fell off in the years that followed. Austin resurfaced in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis in 2018, but the Bengals fired him prior to that season’s conclusion.

Interestingly, Austin has met with the Titans previously. The team interviewed him for its then-vacant head coaching position, which ended up going to Mike Mularkey, in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Drop OC Randy Fichtner

On Thursday morning the team announced that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner will not have his contract renewed. The same goes for offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley

I want to thank all three of the coaches for their commitment and dedication to the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said head coach Mike Tomlin in a statement. “They have all played integral roles in our success and I am appreciative of their efforts. Personally, Randy and I have been in Pittsburgh since I hired him in 2007, but our relationship began well before that. He has been a friend of mine for years and wish his family nothing but the best, and I am eternally grateful for our relationship both on and off the field.”

Fichtner worked his way up the Steelers’ ranks to serve as the team’s OC for the last three seasons. Things went well enough in his first year as Todd Haley‘s replacement, but the wheels came off in 2019 and 2020.The Steelers finished last in the NFL this year with 1,351 rushing yards. The previous season wasn’t much better — they placed 29th in 2019 with 1,447 yards.

Meanwhile, Fichtner and Ben Roethlisberger seemed to have a falling out. The Steelers waited a bit to make it official, but Fichtner’s dismissal doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

GM/HC Notes: Colbert, Panthers, Jets, Smith

Here is the latest from the GM/head coach carousels. Five GM vacancies and seven HC openings remain as of Wednesday afternoon.

  • Before making his way to Pittsburgh, Kevin Colbert spent many seasons in Detroit. The Lions have been connected to making a push for a Colbert Motor City return, but they have not asked the Steelers for permission to interview him, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers gave Colbert an extension last year. After working with the Lions throughout the 1990s as their pro scouting director, Colbert has been with his hometown Steelers since 2000.
  • The Panthers continue to go through second interviews. After meeting with 49ers exec Adam Peters and Titans staffer Monti Ossenfort again this week, Carolina brought back Chiefs assistant player personnel director Ryan Poles and met again with Seahawks VP of football operations Scott Fitterer. Poles is one of a few Chiefs execs to receive interest this offseason, while Fitterer has been on the GM interview circuit for a few years. The Seahawks promoted him in September.
  • The Jets finished up Robert Saleh‘s second interview Wednesday but appear set to identify more finalists soon. They want to speak with Titans OC Arthur Smith again, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The Jets are not alone in pursuing Smith, who has interviewed for six HC jobs thus far. The Falcons are also high on the second-year OC.
  • Although Brian Daboll has not completed quite as extensive an itinerary as Smith has, he has impressed the Jets. Gang Green is high on the third-year Bills OC, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. Daboll met with the Jets on Sunday. He cannot meet with the team in person until the Bills’ season concludes.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/12/21

Here are the latest NFL minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

  • Signed to reserve/futures contract: LB John Daka

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Football Team

2021 NFL Draft Order

Wild Card weekend is in the books and 75% of the NFL’s 2021 Draft order has been set. Here’s the rundown, thus far:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

GM Notes: Colbert, Patriots, Panthers, Rhule, Bears, Pace

We brought you a new batch of coaching notes earlier, and now we’ve got a new collection of front office bullets to pass along as the Browns and Steelers wrap up wild card weekend:

  • Let’s start with the Steelers, who could be in danger of losing their GM this offseason. We heard last week that the Lions were going to pursue Kevin Colbert, and Jason La Canfora tweets their interest in making that happen is still “very real.” While La Canfora’s sources don’t think Colbert would actually make the jump, he says the Lions “continue to gather info and strategize on how to possibly lure him.” Colbert, in the midst of his 21st season in Pittsburgh, has also flirted with retirement recently. Perhaps a first-round exit at the hands of the Browns could convince him to jump ship?
  • The Patriots just lost one key exec when Nick Caserio got hired by the Texans, and fortunately for them it doesn’t look like they’ll lose another. Dave Ziegler has pulled himself out of contention for the Broncos’ GM job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet writes that the “organization has committed to Ziegler’s future, and Ziegler has committed to” New England, so it sounds like the Pats gave him an extension and/or raise to stay.
  • There was another big withdrawal on Sunday, as Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds removed himself from the Panthers’ search, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. He had interviewed for the job last week. Dodds declined an interview request from the Browns back in January, so he appears to be waiting for the right opportunity to leave Indy.
  • Meanwhile as the Panthers’ search chugs along, they’ll take a look at a couple of internal candidates. Carolina will interview Director of Player Negotiations & Salary Cap Manager Samir Suleiman and Director of Player Personnel Pat Stewart for their GM vacancy (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). The Panthers are conducting an exhaustive search, so it’s possible these are just courtesy interviews.
  • One last note on the Panthers for now. No matter who they hire, it looks like it may be Matt Rhule who’s in charge at the end of the day. “Rhule will essentially be running the show in Carolina,” after they replace the fired Marty Hurney, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. That’s not all that surprising after owner David Tepper paid him a fortune to lure him from Baylor and Rhule earned strong marks for his first season with the Panthers, getting a bare-bones roster to fight hard and play a bunch of close games against good teams. Florio writes that whoever gets the gig “surely won’t get the job without Rhule’s agreement.” Rhule seems like a strong coach, but obviously these kind of arrangements can get dangerous, as we’ve seen with the Texans and Bill O’Brien.
  • Matt Nagy is going to be back with the Bears in 2021, but GM Ryan Pace’s future apparently isn’t entirely secure. Chicago could target Chiefs exec Mike Borgonzi this offseason, multiple sources told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. As Biggs points out, it would make sense for them to bring in someone familiar with Nagy if they’re going to change GMs but not coaches. Nagy, of course, coached in Kansas City under Andy Reid for a while. The Bears’ blowout loss to the Saints today certainly isn’t working in Pace’s favor, and the drafting of Mitchell Trubisky second overall never worked out. This will be an interesting situation to monitor this week.