Elandon Roberts

Latest On Steelers’ ILB Situation

The Steelers will have quite a different look at inside linebacker in 2023 than they had in 2022. Free agency took a toll on the room in the offseason but still helped them to reload a bit at the position. In a mailbag Q&A this week, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic addressed the question of whether or not Pittsburgh did enough to address the position this spring.

First, let’s address the losses. All three of the team’s top contributors at inside linebacker departed in free agency in the offseason. Myles Jack was heading into the second year of the two-year contract he had signed to join the Steelers last year, but the team, instead, decided to release the veteran linebacker to open up about $8MM of cap space. After being allowed to test his market in free agency, Devin Bush signed a one-year contract in Seattle. Lastly, Robert Spillane, who served as a spot starter and factored heavily into the defensive rotation last year, also found his way to free agency, departing for Las Vegas.

That left three holes atop the roster at inside linebacker, including two starting spots. For one spot, the team signed former Commanders linebacker Cole Holcomb. A fifth-round pick for Washington back in 2019, Holcomb was an immediate starter as a rookie. This wasn’t the first time that Holcomb had surpassed expectations as, in college, he earned a scholarship after initially walking on at North Carolina. He’s now started 48 of the 50 games he’s appeared in, but injuries have kept him from appearing in a possible 16 additional games. Most crucially, he missed 10 games in 2022 due to a knee injury in November and foot surgery that ended his season in December. If healthy, though, Holcomb can certainly perform as the team’s top linebacker. His best season saw him rank as the league’s 23rd best linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), in 2020, and despite his injuries, he ranked 35th in 2022.

Another spot was filled by former Patriots and Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts. An eighth-year veteran, Roberts had a bit of a breakout year in 2022. After seeing his role diminish over his final years with the Patriots, Roberts found a way to improve over each season in Miami. Finally starting in every game of the season in 2022, Roberts recorded career-highs in total tackles (107), tackles for loss (10), and sacks (4.5) and tied a career-high in quarterback hits (6). He’s never graded out highly by PFF standards as a full-service linebacker, but last year, Roberts topped all NFL linebackers with an 89.2 pass rushing grade.

Pittsburgh is planning on filling the third hole internally by putting more responsibility on the shoulders of Mark Robinson to fill Spillane’s role from last year. A seventh-round pick for the team in 2022, Robinson only appeared in four games last season, making two starts in the final two games of the year. The Steelers have taken their time with Robinson, who had only played one season at linebacker in college after switching from running back. The team seems confident in Robinson’s ability to step up in Year 2. They relied on him last year in the team’s last two games against the Ravens and Browns, two run-heavy teams, and he may play a similar role this year.

For depth at inside linebacker, the team brought in Nick Kwiatkoski and Tanner Muse. Kwiatkoski has past experience as a full-time starter but hasn’t started a game since the 2020 season. Muse is primarily a special teamer.

So, did the Steelers do enough to address the losses at the position? It may be too soon to say whether they’ve successfully filled the holes in the roster. They did a lot, and the holes are filled, but whether they’ve been filled effectively has yet to be determined. Kaboly does think that the team has done enough to at least satisfy the demands of the roster. He doesn’t believe that the team will continue to pursue Kwon Alexander or other free agents, barring injury to the three players above. Unless Holcomb, Roberts, and Robinson make it clear that they can’t handle the duties of the position, Kaboly believes that “the 90 they have is the 90 they will bring to camp.”

Steelers To Sign LB Elandon Roberts, Release LB Myles Jack

The Steelers’ Cole Holcomb addition will not round out their linebacker moves in free agency. They have also reached an agreement to bring in Elandon Roberts, Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com tweets.

Roberts agreed to a two-year deal with Pittsburgh. Brian Flores brought Roberts from New England to Miami in 2020. Though Flores is no longer with the Steelers, the team is bringing in a player the new Vikings DC coached in two cities. Roberts has 76 starts on his resume, including 32 over the past two seasons in Miami. Roberts’ deal is a two-year, $7MM pact, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who notes (via Twitter) the eighth-year veteran received a $2.3MM signing bonus.

Pittsburgh’s additions of Roberts and Holcomb will precede a release of Myles Jack, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets. Jack signed a two-year , $16MM deal with the Steelers in 2022, but the team is moving to other options a year later. This marks the second straight March that a team has made Jack a cap casualty. A year after the Jaguars cut the longtime starter, the Steelers will save $8MM by making this move.

Although Roberts’ Miami tenure included a late-December knee injury in his first year with the team (2020), he bounced back and became a regular starter — both with Flores and following his firing. Roberts started every game for the Dolphins last year, totaling a career-high 107 tackles (10 for loss) and registering 4.5 sacks. That interesting combination is a bit of an outlier for Roberts, who had never produced more than two sacks in a season during his time with the Pats or Dolphins. But the versatile defender did enough to earn a multiyear commitment.

While Pro Football Focus rated Roberts just outside the top 60 at linebacker last year, he graded as the advanced metrics site’s No. 1 pass-rushing linebacker (among off-ball ‘backers). The Patriots used Roberts as a starter throughout their late-2010s run of Super Bowl appearances; he made 33 starts with the Pats from 2016-19.

Jack, who is still just 27 despite having played seven NFL seasons, made 104 tackles last season. PFF graded the former second-round pick just below Roberts — a 2016 sixth-rounder — at linebacker. The seven-year starter, who now has four 100-tackle seasons on his resume, will look for a third NFL team. He should not be expected to command a contract in the $8MM-AAV range, however.

The Steelers are making wholesale changes at linebacker. Robert Spillane, who played 59% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps last season, signed with the Raiders this week. Devin Bush has long been viewed as a one-contract Steeler; the former top-10 pick is visiting the Seahawks today.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/15/22

We’ll keep tabs on today’s minor moves here:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Dolphins Activate Preston Williams, Elandon Roberts From PUP List

After spending three weeks on the Dolphins’ active/PUP list to start training camp, Preston Williams and Elandon Roberts are practicing with the team again. The Dolphins activated the third-year wide receiver and sixth-year linebacker Thursday.

Both players return to position groups that have seen big changes this offseason. After going through the 2020 season thin at wide receiver, the Dolphins added Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. And Albert Wilson has impressed his first training camp post-opt-out. Miami also traded Shaq Lawson for longtime Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney.

The Dolphins used Roberts as an 11-game starter last season, though the former Patriot’s initial Miami slate proved a bit rocky. Pro Football Focus graded Roberts as its worst full-time linebacker in 2020, but his coverage issues largely contributed to this assessment. The Dolphins re-signed the run-stuffing ‘backer in March, doing so after trading for McKinney. Roberts suffered a late-season knee injury that ended up requiring surgery that put his Week 1 status in doubt. He might now be trending upward for Miami’s opener.

Williams has run into multiple bad injury breaks. An ACL tear halted the former UDFA’s promising rookie season, and the Colorado State product’s 2020 campaign also stopped at the eight-game mark. Williams has spent the past several months rehabbing a Lisfranc issue, one that placed his Week 1 status in doubt as well. The 6-foot-5 wideout has produced in limited time, hauling in 50 receptions for 716 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 career games, but the Dolphins’ offseason additions at receiver will affect his role.

Both players can no longer be stashed on the Dolphins’ reserve/PUP list to start the season, but each can be placed on IR — so long as they are carried over to the team’s regular-season roster following the preseason — if the team deems them not ready by Week 1. The NFL kept its 2020 IR rules, which allow teams to activate players from IR after three weeks.

Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts Had Knee Surgery, Week 1 In Doubt?

Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts landed on injured reserve late last season with a knee injury, but the team never said exactly what it was, only that it was “significant.” We still don’t know the exact injury, but significant may have been an understatement.

Speaking to the Miami media today, Roberts said he underwent surgery on the knee, and declined to say if he’ll be ready for Week 1, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Given those context clues, it seems quite possible Roberts tore an ACL.

Whatever the case, the Dolphins felt comfortable enough in his status to give him a $650K signing bonus on the one-year, $2MM contract they gave him back in March. He also has $750K available in incentives for 2021.

It was a tough break for Roberts to get seriously hurt right before entering free agency, and he likely would’ve cashed in more had he not got down in late December. The former Patriot who followed Brian Flores to Miami started 11 games for the Dolphins last year, finishing with 61 tackles (eight for a loss).

Contract Details: Rhodes, Johnson, Abdullah, Roberts, Moreau

Let’s catch up on the latest batch of financial terms from recent free agent deals:

  • Colts CB Xavier Rhodes: One-year, $4.77MM. $3.75MM fully guaranteed salary, $1.02MM in per game active roster bonuses. $1.75MM in additional playing time, interception, and Pro Bowl incentives, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). This was originally reported as a one-year, $6.5MM pact, but it looks like that’ll only be the case if he hits those incentives.
  • Titans CB Kevin Johnson: One-year, $2.25MM. $2MM guaranteed, with a $1MM salary and $1MM signing bonus. $250K in per game active roster bonuses, via Wilson on Twitter. We didn’t have any word on compensation initially, and it turns out Tennessee got the former first-rounder for a pretty reasonable price.
  • Vikings RB Ameer Abdullah: One-year, $990K. Non-guaranteed. Via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter. Terms of the deal weren’t previously reported, but the Vikings got the former second-rounder back for a non-guaranteed vet minimum contract.
  • Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts: One-year, $1.995MM. $1.345MM salary, $650K signing bonus, plus $750K in incentives available, via Field Yates of ESPN on Twitter. We also didn’t have any terms for Roberts, and he ended up getting some decent money to return to Miami.
  • Falcons CB Fabian Moreau: One-year, $1.127MM. $987.5K guaranteed. $137.5K signing bonus, $990K salary ($850K guaranteed), via Wilson on Twitter. Finishing things up with one more cornerback we were missing terms on. Moreau, a part-time starter for Washington the past few years, got just above the minimum, although it’s almost entirely guaranteed at least.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/24/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Seattle Seahawks

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/20

Here are the minor moves from 2020’s final day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Dolphins To Sign Elandon Roberts

The Dolphins have agreed to sign former Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts, according to a source who spoke with Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Before this, Roberts spent his entire four-year NFL career with the Patriots. He’s appeared in 60 games for them and started in more than half of those contests. Last year, however, he was only called upon for three starts.

Playing mostly as an inside linebacker, Roberts has tallied 206 total stops since 2016. The former sixth-round pick is just the latest Patriots player to leave in free agency this week. The list, which figures to grow, already includes:

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gostkowski, Jets, Bell

Mohamed Sanu joined the Patriots in late October, but the veteran receiver believed he was going to land with the organization much earlier. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, the Rutgers product expected to be drafted by New England during the 2012 draft, and he later opted for a lucrative payday from the Falcons when he hit free agency in 2016. Now, during his ninth year in the NFL, he’s finally on the Patriots.

“The draft, free agency, and now it happened – it’s kind of been like a long time coming, like it was almost meant to happen,” Sanu told Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The 30-year-old also discussed his chances of sticking with New England for his entire career.

“That’d be cool,” Sanu said. “You never know. I just go where everything falls, take it day by day. Whatever happens, happens. I do my part, do my best, be a great teammate and do my part, whenever I can to help this team win…Now that I’m here, it’s time to go to work. I’m very excited.”

Sanu had a standout game for the Patriots during last night’s loss, hauling in 10 receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown.

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski underwent successful hip surgery and was back at the team’s facilities last week. Meanwhile, it was revealed that third-round offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste will likely miss the entire season as he recovers from quadriceps surgery. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Reiss) that the rookie would likely have a redshirt season: “That’s probably a pretty good way of approaching or saying it. He’s probably not ready to do anything and probably won’t be until next year. That’s the way I see it.”
  • Elandon Roberts has had to fill in at fullback for the Patriots following injuries to James Develin and Jakob Johnson. However, the linebacker isn’t planning on making a permanent position change; Reiss writes that Roberts is still a “full-time participant in defensive and linebacker meetings.” While the 25-year-old indicated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, he views the fullback position as an “extra” priority.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell is set to undergo an MRI on his injured knee, coach Adam Gase told reporters (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). The coach also acknowledged that he’s uncertain when the veteran suffered the injury, as Bell only reveled the ailment this morning.
  • While Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts has love for “the loyal fans,” he wasn’t too happy with those who criticized the team following their loss to the Dolphins yesterday. You can check out the Instagram rant for yourself thanks to Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post.