Mike Hilton

Bengals To Sign Mike Hilton

The Bengals are continuing to add to the defense. Cincinnati has agreed to terms on a deal with free agent cornerback Mike Hilton, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a four-year pact for Hilton, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (tweet via Ben Baby of ESPN).

The four-year deal is worth $24MM with $8.5MM coming to Hilton in the first year, Rapoport tweets. The Bengals signed fellow corner Chidobe Awuzie to a three-year deal earlier this morning, and added defensive end Trey Hendrickson on a massive four-year, $60MM deal last night. With Hilton and Awuzie now in tow and William Jackson III looking likely to depart in free agency, Cincy’s secondary is going to look completely different in 2021.

Hilton entered the league as an UDFA out of Ole Miss in 2016. He initially spent time with the Jaguars and Patriots but was cut in both places before landing on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. He quickly carved out a role with the Steelers, and was a big part of their secondary the past few years. He’ll likely be the Bengals’ new slot corner.

This past season he appeared in 12 games, starting six, and playing around 45 percent of the defensive snaps in total. Despite only being on the field half the time he managed to rack up three sacks, eight tackles for loss, seven passes defended, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. That’s a lot of playmaking.

Steelers CB Mike Hilton Signs RFA Tender

As a key deadline looms for restricted free agents, one of the key members of this contingent is back in the fold with his team. Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton signed his second-round tender on Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Hilton’s preference remains to sign a long-term deal to stay in Pittsburgh, per Schefter, but this ties him to a $3.26MM payment this year. RFAs have until June 15 to sign tenders. Otherwise, teams can withdraw them and pay players 120% of their respective 2019 salaries.

Hilton has operated as a key Steelers defender for years, manning the slot for the improved defense. Last season, the Steelers rocketed up to third in DVOA against the pass. Although 2019 additions Steven Nelson and Minkah Fitzpatrick had plenty to do with that, Hilton and Joe Haden remained key figures in the Pittsburgh defense’s rise.

Because of his undrafted status, Hilton has been eligible for a new deal since the 2018 season ended. The Steelers tendered him as an ERFA in 2019. The 26-year-old cornerback said last year he wanted to be a Steeler long-term, and that stance evidently has not changed.

Steelers Place Second-Round Tender On CB Mike Hilton

The Steelers have slapped cornerback Mike Hilton with a second-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

The move ensures that if any team signs Hilton to an offer sheet and the Steelers decline to match, they’d get that team’s second-round pick in return. If the organization has their way, they’d probably prefer that Hilton just sticks around Pittsburgh.

The 2016 undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss bounced between the Jaguars and Patriots before landing with the Steelers. After spending much of the 2016 campaign unsigned, Hilton emerged to appear in all 16 games during the 2017 season.

The cornerback has taken on a larger role during each of his seasons in Pittsburgh, culminating in a 2019 season where he appeared in 16 games (eight starts) and compiled 65 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 11 passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble.

Steelers’ Mike Hilton Signs ERFA Deal

Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton has been vocal about wanting a long-term deal. He doesn’t have one, just yet, but he did sign his exclusive rights free agent tender.

Hilton lacks leverage and opted against holding out from camp in order to get his way. Still only 25, Hilton may be willing to bet on himself as he plays out a one-year, $645K deal.

I want to show the team I want to be here and want to be a part of this organization,” Hilton said earlier this summer. “… As players, you feel like of course you want to earn more. Hopefully things work out in the long run, but if not, I’ll do my best to go out there and help this team win.”

The two sides have talked, so a deal could still be on the horizon.

AFC Rumors: Gordon, Jets, Steelers, Colts

Tuesday marked a significant day for the Jets, with their new front office power players forming. A day later, more clarity has emerged on how Joe Douglas‘ first staff will look. While the respective roles for Rex Hogan (assistant GM) and Chad Alexander (director of player personnel) became known Tuesday, the Jets announced Phil Savage‘s a day later. The former Browns GM and Ravens player personnel director will serve as a senior football advisor. Savage has not worked on an NFL staff since the 2012 season.

Additionally, the Jets filled some front office positions by promoting holdovers brought in by previous regimes. Eleventh-year Jets staffer Greg Nemjeh will become the team’s new director of pro personnel, and 13th-year Jets staffer Dan Zbojovsky the team’s new director of personnel operations. Kevin Murphy, a Jets pro scout the past two years, will rise to the position of pro scouting director. The team also added Chris Nolan as a college scout. Nolan was an Eagles staffer during Douglas’ Philadelphia stay. Nolan will serve as an area scout, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter).

Here is what’s going on outside the Big Apple in the AFC Wednesday:

  • A video featuring Tom Brady throwing passes to suspended Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon surfaced Wednesday (Instagram link via Brady), but there is still no telling when or if this duo will be able to do this in a more organized setting again. An NFL spokesman informed The Athletic’s Jeff Howe there has been no movement on Gordon’s status, nor does a timeline exist for a final answer here (Twitter link). Multiple violations of the substance abuse policy have the long-embattled wideout suspended. Gordon, 28, signed his RFA tender — worth $2.025MM — so he would stand to be a Patriot if reinstated.
  • With Justin Houston joining the Colts, Tyquan Lewis looks like he will be changing positions. The Colts have used Lewis at defensive tackle this offseason, Tyler Kraft of the Indianapolis Star notes. The 2018 second-round pick played defensive end as a rookie and at Ohio State. Lewis, who spent much of his rookie season on IR, is at bit small for an inside defender. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds, a similar build to 2018 free agent addition Denico Autry (6-5, 270). The recently re-signed Margus Hunt, however, brings more size at nearly 300 pounds. Houston and Jabaal Sheard stand to reside as the team’s top defensive ends. The Colts also drafted defensive end Kemoko Turay in the 2018 second round.
  • Two years after Alejandro Villanueva‘s situation, the Steelers have another ERFA who has been a regular contributor. Slot cornerback Mike Hilton has been vocal about wanting a long-term deal. He does not have much leverage, but his situation is different from Villanueva’s. The left tackle was late entering the NFL and was 29 when he lobbied for a new contract — what turned out to be a three-year, $24MM deal. Hilton is 25 and could bet on himself by playing for $645K. While he is voicing displeasure now, it doesn’t sound like the former UDFA is too upset with the Steelers. “I want to show the team I want to be here and want to be a part of this organization,” Hilton said, via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. “… As players, you feel like of course you want to earn more. Hopefully things work out in the long run, but if not, I’ll do my best to go out there and help this team win.”

Extra Points: Bradberry, Jenkins, Lions

Count Panthers head coach Ron Rivera among those who’d like to see cornerback James Bradberry signed long-term.

“He is a guy that I hope we do keep around because he is important to what we’ve done,” Rivera told Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “We’ve kind of shown that you have to be able to keep that type of a corner around.”

It’s pretty easy to surmise that Rivera is talking about former cornerback Josh Norman, who left the organization following a messy contract dispuit. Since then, Bradberry has been one of the lone consistencies among Panthers defensive backs, so it only makes sense that the coaching staff would want to keep him around. The 25-year-old is heading into the final season of his rookie contract.

“I think I’ve shown that I am capable of being a top corner in this league,” Bradberry said. “I just had to make sure I stayed on my P’s and Q’s, on top of my toes. Did a lot of film study each and every week.”

That commitment has certainly paid off. The former second-rounder had another solid season in 2018, finishing with 70 tackles, 15 passes defended, and one interception.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie played a role in convincing safety Malcolm Jenkins to attend the team’s minicamp. The veteran had previously missed the team’s voluntary workouts, and there was concern that he’d skip training camp in pursuit of a new deal. However, after talking to Lurie, Jenkins was in a better frame of mind. “One of the reasons that I feel comfortable being here,” Jenkins told Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “is because of my relationship with Jeff Lurie and understanding that I do feel valued and respected.”
  • The Lions did not waive Michael Roberts as an injured player, meaning there was no injury settlement, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. We learned yesterday that Roberts’ trade from the Lions to the Patriots was called off, and the tight end was subsequently waived by Detroit While a failed physical has been the assumed reason for the failed trade, Birkett notes that different teams’ doctors could have differing opinions.
  • Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton has yet to ink his exclusive rights free agent tender and continues to push the club for a new deal. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes that the player may have been inspired by teammate Alejandro Villanueva, who pulled off a similar move in 2017. “I can’t say if it’s better to sign now or later,” Villanueva said. “But betting on yourself, in this business, usually works.” Fowler writes that the two players have discussed the matter, although Hilton may not see the same kind of resolution as Villanueva.

Steelers’ Mike Hilton Pushing For New Deal

Cornerback Mike Hilton has yet to ink his exclusive rights free agent tender and continues to push the club for a new deal, as Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review writes. But, while Hilton waits to see how things play out between team brass and agent Drew Rosenhaus, he is participating in OTAs. 

As an ERFA, Hilton has no real leverage: he can either accept a minimum salary pact from the Steelers, or decide not to play football in 2019. ERFAs and restricted free agents do hold one advantage over other young players who were drafted, however, as they can receive extensions after only two seasons, whereas drafted players must wait at least three years.

Hilton, one of the better slot corners in the league, has appeared in 31 games over the past two seasons, posting three interceptions and five sacks during that span. Meanwhile, he added seven or eight pounds of muscle to his frame in order to build on that production in 2019.

It was intentional,” the 25-year-old said. “Especially coming off my (elbow) injury, I feel like if I get stronger, I will be able to handle that type of weight.”

The Steelers gave ERFA left tackle Alejandro Villanueva a new deal in 2017 after he practiced with the team in the offseason, so there’s reason to believe that Hilton can also get a fresh contract out of the team.

Extra Points: Steelers, Patriots, Seahawks

Cornerback Mike Hilton doesn’t plan to immediately sign his exclusive rights free agent tender as he waits for a new, long-term deal from the Steelers, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As an exclusive rights free agent, Hilton has no leverage with Pittsburgh: he can either accept a minimum salary pact from the Steelers, or decide not to play football in 2019. ERFAs and restricted free agents do hold one advantage over other young players who were drafted, however, as they can receive extensions after only two seasons (drafted players must wait at least three years). One of the better slot corners in the league, Hilton has appeared in 31 games over the past two seasons, posting three interceptions and five sacks during that span. He doesn’t plan to miss any offseason work as he pushes for a new contract, per Fowler.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Running back James White and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy each missed out on playtime/performance bonus thresholds in 2018, but the Patriots have decided to pay each player his bonus anyway, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. White will collect a $250K bonus, which he would have earned by reaching 1,200 total yards (he managed 1,176), per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Meanwhile, Guy needed to play 50% of New England’s defensive snaps for his own $250K bonus, but fell three snaps short. Together, the bonuses will add $500K to the Patriots’ salary cap, but New England can feel secure in rewarding its players. The Pats did the same thing for Guy in 2018 when he barely failed to earn a $500K bonus.
  • Doug Baldwin has already had knee and shoulder surgeries this offseason, and the veteran Seahawks receiver may have to go under the knife yet again. Appearing on Sports Radio KJR, Baldwin indicated he’s likely to require another operation in the coming months (Twitter link via Curtis Crabtree of KJR). In April, Baldwin is expected to travel to Philadelphia to meet with a specialist regarding a possible sports hernia, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. Baldwin, 30, missed three games with a knee issue in 2018 and didn’t appear fully healthy once he returned to action.
  • Free agent Jake Fisher will work out as a tight end for the Redskins on Thursday, tweets John Keim of ESPN.com. A second-round pick of the Bengals as an offensive tackle in 2015, Fisher is now attempting to convert to a skill position, and is reportedly down to 285 pounds. Fisher, who played tight end in high school, has been limited by injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career, and has started just 12 games in four years. He auditioned for the Texans last week.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/7/19

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive rights free agent tender decisions:






Steelers, Mike Hilton Agree To Extension

The Steelers announced that cornerback Mike Hilton has agreed to a one-year extension. Hilton was scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent in March, meaning that he was likely to be back on a one-year deal anyway. The move is something of a formality, though it does speak to his increased importance to the team. Mike Hilton (vertical)

[RELATED: Todd Haley’s Contract With Steelers Expires]

Hilton served as Pittsburgh’s primary nickel cornerback in 2018 and played in more than 58% of the team’s snaps. He was productive in that role, amassing 64 tackles, four sacks (three of which came in the Steelers’ late season win over the Texans), two picks, and one forced fumble. Hilton ranked as the 27th best corner in the NFL last year, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics, and placed higher than teammates Artie Burns (44th) and Joe Haden (52nd).

Fellow would-be ERFAs Xavier Grimble and Kameron Canaday also inked one-year extensions with the Steelers this week.