Ronnie Staley

AFC Notes: Brown, Steelers, Broncos, Ravens

While the Antonio Brown saga might seem like it’ll never end, a resolution could actually be forced relatively soon. “The Steelers will try to trade Brown sometime during a five-day window that begins March 13, when the new NFL season opens, and March 17, the date on which the Steelers would have to pay him a $2.5 million roster bonus”, writes Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

It makes sense why the Steelers have no interest in paying him the roster bonus, and if that’s the case we should know where Brown will be playing next year within the next couple of weeks. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert confirmed yesterday that three teams have inquired about a trade for Brown. Having a set date they need to trade him by would seem to reduce Pittsburgh’s leverage in trade talks. League executives are already saying they don’t expect the Steelers to fetch more than a third round pick.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Broncos won’t be re-signing cornerback Tramaine Brock this offseason, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9 News. Klis also writes “the odds aren’t great for” fellow cornerback Bradley Roby being brought back, so Denver’s secondary will be undergoing a significant amount of turnover this offseason. Denver’s once vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ is a thing of the past, and the team needs a young cornerback to develop next to Chris Harris Jr. Brock is 30, and coming off a down year, he could struggle to find a ton of interest on the open market. Roby was Denver’s first round pick back in 2014 and started 15 games last year, but has mostly been a disappointment and fallen out of favor with the front office.
  • The Ravens signed cornerback Tavon Young to an extension a couple of days ago, and they might not be done handing out new deals just yet. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, outside linebacker Matt Judon, and kicker Justin Tucker are all “logical candidates” for extensions as they prepare to head into the last years of their contracts, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tucker remains the league’s best kicker, so the team will almost certainly prioritize a new deal for him that should break records.
  • In case you missed it, the Patriots’ McCourty twins have both announced they plan to continue playing in 2019.

Draft Rumors: Spence, J. Smith, Rankins, Vikes

Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence, who had multiple positive drug tests during his time at Ohio State, sent each of the NFL’s 32 teams the results of the 20 drug tests he has taken since last May, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. According to Schefter, Spence had Eastern Kentucky conduct five drug tests from May through December, then submitted to 15 more – one per week – since January.

In terms of pure on-field talent, Spence is viewed as one of the top pass rushers in this year’s draft class, but his off-field question marks may cause him to slip a little further than he’d like. Still, he continues to be viewed as a first-round pick, and receiving evidence that he has been clean for the last year may make some teams a little more inclined to roll the dice on him.

Here are a few more of today’s pre-draft rumors and updates:

  • Despite his significant knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for the entire 2016 season, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith is still viewed as a potential day-one or day-two pick, according to Adam Schefter (Twitter links). Schefter hears that Smith is likely to be selected before the end of round three, and one NFL head coach even believes the linebacker could come off the board late in the first round.
  • The buzz surrounding Louisville defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins has intensified today. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter links) both have heard that Rankins will be considered as early as No. 4 by the Cowboys, with La Canfora predicting that he’ll end up as a top-10 pick. Tony Pauline at WalterFootball.com has heard that the draft stocks for both Rankins and Mississippi State DT Chris Jones have risen, with teams seeking interior pass rushers.
  • Several NFL teams think Ohio State wideout Michael Thomas is being undervalued, and will transition well to the NFL, according to Tony Pauline, who says the Chargers and Bengals are among the teams with interest in Thomas. Pauline adds within the same article that the Vikings aren’t a lock to draft a receiver in round one, and will consider Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche if he’s available.
  • With Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley being mentioned in the same conversations as Laremy Tunsil recently, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk looks into whether or not the Tunsil/Stanley debate is real.
  • The NFL is considering Philadelphia and Los Angeles to host the 2017 NFL draft, with Philly emerging as the favorite, tweets Adam Schefter. As Schefter points out, neither of those cities’ teams has a first-round pick in 2017.
  • Purdue defensive tackle Ryan Watson has visited, worked out for, or received inquiries from eight teams since his pro day, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Draft Updates: Monday

As one of the top offensive lineman available, Stanford tackle Andrus Peat is a projected first-round pick in the 2015 draft, but there’s one catch — he hasn’t officially declared yet. However, multiple sources tell Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link) that the junior is expected to enter the draft, so we’ll probably hear an announcement before the January 15 deadline. Here’s more updates on NCAA underclassmen…

  • Like Peat, fellow offensive lineman Ronnie Staley hasn’t yet declared for the draft, and he remains truly undecided, per Getlin (via Twitter). The Notre Dame product would rank as the No. 1 OT in the draft, according to Josh Norris of Rotoworld.
  • Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington has declared for the 2015 draft, according to Joe Schad of ESPN (Twitter link). Covington, who underwent knee surgery in November, is the seventh-rated DT on CBSSports.com’s rankings.
  • Penn State tight end Jesse James will forgo his senior season and enter the 2015 draft, according to a press release. James holds the record for touchdown catches by a Nittany Lion TE.
  • Announcing the news himself via Twitter, Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries revealed he’ll skip his senior season and enter the draft. A highly-sought after high school player, Humphries had trouble staying healthy in Gainesville, and is rated as the 20th overall tackle per WalterFootball.com.
  • Washington State defensive end Xavier Cooper told CougFan.com that he’ll enter the 2015 draft. Cooper, a three-year starter who racked up five sacks last season, said he expects to be a third- or fourth-round pick.
  • Kansas receiver Nigel King has declared for the 2015 draft, the school announced via press release. King, who caught 29 balls for 518 yards in 2014, could go undrafted, as he isn’t ranked on CBSSports.com’s list of the top 150 WRs.