Justin Layne

Bears Place RB Khalil Herbert On IR, Claim CB Justin Layne

The Bears’ first-place rushing attack will need to get by without one of its pillars in the coming weeks. Khalil Herbert is heading to IR, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

A hip injury will sideline Herbert, who has played a major role in Chicago’s backfield in his second pro season. He must miss at least four games. The Bears also added cornerback Justin Layne via waiver claim. The Giants waived Layne on Monday. Matt Eberflus does not view Herbert’s injury has season-ending, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley (on Twitter). The earliest Herbert can return is Week 15.

Chosen in last year’s sixth round, Herbert has already smashed his rookie-year rushing total. Despite not taking as many handoffs as starter David Montgomery, the elusive backup has 643 rushing yards — at an eye-catching six yards per carry. Montgomery, who has totaled 115 carries to Herbert’s 108, has amassed just 434 yards. The Bears will need to lean on their starter more, though having a quarterback amid one of the all-time great QB rushing seasons will help. Justin Fields leads the Bears with 749 rushing yards.

Among non-quarterbacks, Herbert’s 6.0 yards per carry ties Tony Pollard atop the NFL. Being on pace for more than 1,000 yards despite not starting, the Kansas and Virginia Tech product has displayed the potential to be a long-term Fields complementary piece.

Though buoyed largely by Fields’ recent run-game dominance, the Bears’ near-400-yard lead on the rest of the NFL in rushing (201.7 yards per game) has also featured extensive Herbert contributions. The second-year back’s emergence likely will factor into how the Bears proceed with Montgomery, who is one of many starter-caliber backs set to hit free agency in March. No known Montgomery extension talks have taken place.

Layne has continued to generate interest, despite not seeing much time at cornerback. The Steelers drafted Layne in Round 3 in 2019; he has played 156 career defensive snaps. The Giants claimed him following cutdown day in August but used him on just 11 defensive snaps during his half-season New York stay. But the Michigan State alum has been a special teams regular throughout his career. Layne would stand to impact the Bears on this front. His rookie contract expires at season’s end.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/14/22

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Mitchell has been out of the mix for the Jets since suffering a dislocated knee early last month. Although Mitchell was carted off the field because of that injury, he appears on track to come back. The Jets also have George Fant on IR, but he has not yet been designated for return. The Jets have used Duane Brown and journeyman Cedric Ogbuehi at tackle over the past two games. Gang Green has six injury activations remaining.

The Giants four activations left. A 2021 sixth-round pick, Williams ran into a bone-spur issue during training camp. The Giants claimed Layne off waivers from the Steelers after cutdown day. The former third-round pick has worked on special teams throughout the season.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: NFC East

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These CommandersCowboys, Eagles and Giants moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s NFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Dallas Cowboys

Signed to practice squad:

New York Giants

Signed:

Released:

Claimed:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Philadelphia Eagles

Claimed: 

Waived:

Signed to practice squad:

Washington Commanders

Released:

Claimed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Steelers Trim Roster To 53

The Steelers had a number of difficult decisions to make leading up to the 53-man roster deadline, including the status of Mason Rudolph. The team ended up holding on to the quarterback, but the front office still had to cut a number of players to get to the roster limit:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/injured:

Marcus Allen, a 2018 fifth-round pick, appeared in 33 games for Pittsburgh over the past four seasons. Justin Layne was a 2019 third-round pick by the Steelers, with the majority of his 43 appearances coming on special teams. Anthony McFarland was also a former Steelers draft pick, while Trent Scott was brought in this offseason to compete for an OL spot. Joe Haeg started two of his 12 appearances for the Steelers in 2021.

Henry Mondeaux spent the past two seasons in Pittsburgh, getting into 26 total games (two starts). After mostly seeing a special teams role during his rookie campaign, the defensive tackle saw more opportunities on defense in 2021, finishing with 16 tackles and two sacks. Buddy Johnson was a fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft. The linebacker got into four games as a rookie, collecting two tackles. Carlos Davis was a seventh-round pick by the Steelers in 2020. The defensive tackle collected 11 tackles in 11 games.

Steelers Re-Sign CB Maulet

The Steelers tied up one of their loose ends before the start of free agency this week, signing cornerback Arthur Maulet to a new two-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Maulet signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2017, spending most of his time in New Orleans on the practice squad but appearing in six games. After being waived in 2018, the Colts claimed Maulet off waivers. He played five games in Indianapolis, earning his first career start, before getting waived and re-signed to the Saints’ practice squad.

Maulet signed a reserve/future contract in 2019 with the Jets. In New York, Maulet started 11 games over two years splitting time at cornerback and strong safety. He recorded his first career interceptions in New York, reeling in one each year there, and recorded his first career sack in 2020.

In May 2021, the Steelers signed Maulet to a one-year, $990,000 deal. Maulet appeared in all but one game last year for the Steelers, earning two starts at cornerback. Maulet adds some much needed depth to the cornerback’s room in Pittsburgh, rejoining starter Cameron Sutton and back ups Tre Norwood, James Pierre, and Justin Layne. Starting cornerback Joe Haden and key back up Ahkello Witherspoon are also on their way to free agency.

Steelers CB Justin Layne Pleads Guilty To Three Misdemeanors

May 11: In an effort to resolve his legal situation as expeditiously as possible, Layne recently pled guilty to three misdemeanor charges — possession of criminal tools, speeding, and driving without an operator’s license — as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk details. He received a six-month suspended sentence, but he will not serve any of that sentence if he pays a $500 fine, forfeits a handgun, and performs 32 hours of community service.

Theoretically, Layne could still be suspended by the league, but getting rid of the felony charge that he was facing can’t hurt. With the offseason departures of Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, Layne stands to get an uptick in playing time in 2021.

Apr. 24: Steelers cornerback Justin Layne has found himself in hot water. The 23-year-old was arrested early Friday morning “on suspicion of felony transportation of a firearm inside of a vehicle,” per ESPN’s Ben Baby.

Layne was also charged with a pair of misdemeanors: “driving with a suspended license and exceeding speed limits.” According to police, the player was pulled over after he was observed going 89 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone. Police searched the car after smelling marijuana, and they proceeded to find a loaded pistol (via NFL.com). The player didn’t have the proper license for a conceal-carry permit. Layne later acknowledged the gun was his.

Police also learned that Layne “had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a traffic violation in another jurisdiction.” Following his arrest, he was granted release on a personal bond, with his next court appearance coming in early May.

“We are aware of the incident but still gathering information,” the Steelers said in a statement. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

Following a standout career at Michigan State, Layne was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2019 draft. After barely playing during his rookie season (despite officially appearing in 10 games), he saw more time on the field in 2020. He finished this year having appeared in all 16 games, collecting 22 tackles.

Steelers Wrap Up Draft Class Deals

The Steelers finished up their 2019 draft class’ contracts on Thursday, coming to terms with third-round pick Justin Layne on the customary four-year rookie deal.

Although the Steelers had already signed fellow third-rounder Diontae Johnson, 26 third-round picks remain unsigned across the NFL. The CBA’s vague language regarding third-rounders’ contracts annually creates delays in teams signing these players.

But Layne is now in the fold and is expected to compete for an immediate role in Pittsburgh’s secondary. After beginning his Michigan State career as a wide receiver, the former Cleveland-area high school standout became a high-end cornerback prospect. The 6-foot-2 defender started 26 games for the Spartans and joins a Steelers secondary that features Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Steven Nelson and underwhelming former first-rounder Artie Burns.

Here is the Steelers’ 2019 draft class: