Ryan Shazier

AFC Notes: Bowlen, Shazier, Titans

The family of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will receive Bowlen’s Gold Jacket and Hall of Fame ring, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Bowlen was elected to the Hall of Fame in February but passed away in June, making him the first HOFer to die between his election and his induction. Typically, the HOF doesn’t present the jacket and the ring to those enshrined posthumously because it doesn’t want the family to fight over the artifacts or sell them, but the production of the artifacts had already begun before Bowlen passed.

The family will display the items in the front lobby of the Broncos’ UCHealth Center headquarters so that they can be enjoyed by fans.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the relationship between Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his high school teammate, trainer, and close friend, Jerome Howard. Howard has been with Shazier throughout his recovery and has assisted him in his efforts to get back to the playing field. The piece is well-worth a read, especially for Steelers fans, as it also details the remarkable progress that Shazier has made. A return to football is still a long way off, but he has already overcome tremendous odds just to be walking again, let alone exercising the way he is.
  • We heard in May that Colts WR Deon Cain was expected to be a full participant in training camp, but Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk says that Cain’s status is still unclear. However, she does hear that Cain should be ready to go at least by the regular season opener, which could a huge boon to Indianapolis’ aerial attack. Cain, a 2018 sixth-rounder, generated a lot of hype before tearing his ACL last August and is highly-regarded by the coaching staff. He is currently the fourth WR on the depth chart.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes linebacker Kamalei Correa will make the Titans‘ roster and will have an impact in 2019, but he is on the bubble and will need to fight for a spot on the club. In the same piece, Wyatt says that he does not expect Tennessee to bring back safety Johnathan Cyprien, although the team said after releasing Cyprien in March that it would like to re-sign him at a cheaper rate.
  • Bills RB Christian Wade was assigned to Buffalo’s roster as part of the league’s international pathway program, which means he is eligible to be the 11th man on the club’s practice squad. But as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes, Wade believes he can crack the 53-man roster. That will be a tall order given that veterans LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon, along with third-round rookie Devin Singletary, are ahead of him on the depth chart. But McCoy and Gore will be free agents after the season, and Yeldon could be a cap casualty by that time, so if Wade impresses, he could be a roster candidate in 2020.

Steelers Place Ryan Shazier On PUP List

On Monday, the Steelers officially placed Ryan Shazier on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List. By taking this step, the Steelers will ensure that Ryan Shazier will continue to collect his salary for the 2019 season. For cap purposes, he’ll count for $473K against the books. 

Shazier has remained steadfast in his insistence that he wants to return to the field one day, but it won’t be in 2019. The Steelers, meanwhile, are doing right by the linebacker, who was lauded for his leadership and on-field abilities before a devastating injury suffered in 2017.

The former first-round pick out of Ohio State tallied 68 tackles and 11 pass defenses before he was nearly paralyzed in 2017. He also earned a Pro Bowl selection despite playing in only 12 games. Prior to that, he logged 55 tackles in each of the previous two seasons.

We will continue to support Ryan’s efforts to return to play,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a statement earlier this offseason. “Although he won’t be able to help us on the field in 2019, his leadership, insight, and emotional support have always been very valuable to us, and we look forward to his contributions in our pursuit of a championship.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Toll Ryan Shazier’s Contract Into 2019

The Steelers are once again doing right by Ryan Shazier. The team is tolling his contract into 2019, with plans to eventually place him on the reserve/PUP list, according to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com

Shazier was nearly paralyzed after making a tackle in a now infamous 2017 game against the Bengals. Since then he’s undergone several surgeries as he continues the lengthy rehabilitation process. Pittsburgh’s move today ensures that Shazier “will be paid a salary commensurate with his years of service in the NFL, he will continue to accrue seasons toward his NFL players’ pension, and his medical insurance plan will be the same coverage that all active NFL players receive,” Labriola writes.

Shazier will be paid $473K in 2019, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (Twitter link). It’s a classy move by Steelers ownership, and they’ve stuck by the linebacker every step of the way. Shazier has remained around the team in an informal coaching role, and will continue to do so.

“We will continue to support Ryan’s efforts to return to play,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “Although he won’t be able to help us on the field in 2019, his leadership, insight, and emotional support have always been very valuable to us, and we look forward to his contributions in our pursuit of a championship.”

Shazier has remained steadfast in his insistence that he wants to return to the field one day, but it won’t be in 2019. A first round pick out of Ohio State in 2014, Shazier had blossomed into a star at the time of his injury.

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Reiterates Trade Demand; Latest On Bell, Shazier

For the past few weeks, it feels like we have been getting daily reports on the Antonio Brown saga in Pittsburgh, and the last several rumors we have heard on the matter have suggested that both sides may be open to continuing their relationship.

But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports paints quite a different picture. He says that Brown has recently reiterated his trade demands via agent Drew Rosenhaus, and that Brown has refused to return calls from club owner Art Rooney II. Meanwhile, JLC reports that Brown has told his Pittsburgh teammates that he will never play for the Steelers again.

Brown has three years and $39MM left on his current contract, and despite this falling out with the Steelers, almost every team in the league would be happy to have him. He would prefer to be dealt to the 49ers, but the Steelers reportedly have no intention of allowing Brown to pursue a trade on his own. Instead, Pittsburgh will control the process, and team brass plans to talk to potential trade partners at the scouting combine in a few weeks. The Steelers of course prefer to trade Brown to an NFC club, and they will not deal him to one of their bigger AFC rivals. They also still hope to get at least a first-round pick for him.

Meanwhile, La Canfora writes that the Steelers still plan to put the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell, who sat out the entire 2018 season. That is in keeping with what we have been hearing for months, but it obviously does not mean that Bell will be back in Pittsburgh. It will simply be the precursor to a tag-and-trade scenario, and JLC names the Jets and Eagles as potential destinations. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that the Steelers are contemplating the transition tag, and he even suggests that Bell could return to the Steelers, but that is difficult to fathom at this point.

Finally, La Canfora confirms what we have recently heard with respect to Ryan Shazier. Shazier’s rookie contract is up, and the team has indicated that it plans to re-sign him even though there is no chance he will be able to play in 2019, if ever. JLC says the two sides are working on a one-year pact, and that it will not take long for that to come to fruition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ryan Shazier Wants To Stay With Steelers

Ryan Shazier wants to play football again, but he’ll technically be a free agent in March. When/if he returns to the field, he says he’d ideally like to suit up for the Steelers, as Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette writes. 

Really nothing has been decided,” Shazier said. “I definitely want to be with the Steelers. I was drafted here and everything’s been going great. I just love the atmosphere, I love the family aspect of it, but I also love the way they do business. So I definitely want to stay.

Shazier was in the film room with the Steelers throughout the 2018 season and attended team meetings, even though he was on the PUP list. There’s likely a similar plan in place for 2019 – recently, team president Art Rooney II said he’s working on a way to keep Shazier in the fold on a new deal.

For now, Shazier is taking things day-by-day. He’s already regained the ability to walk, but he has a ways to go before he can resume football activities.

I have a time frame in my head, but I haven’t really told anybody yet,” the linebacker said. “At the end of the day I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m a lot closer to my goal than I was when I got hurt.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Ryan Shazier Eyeing NFL Return

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has made tremendous strides in his rehabilitation and wants to continue forward in his recovery with an eye on playing football again, owner Art Rooney says (Twitter link via Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette). Shazier’s contract is up, so Rooney says the team would probably have to sign him as a player in 2019 in order for him to do that.

When Shazier was carted off of the field in December 2017, doctors feared that he might never walk again. After months of grueling rehab, Shazier is now able to walk with some assistance. All along, the linebacker has been hopeful about returning to the gridiron.

There is no ceiling in Ryan’s recovery. He aggressively approaches it every day,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in March of last year. “We support him in every way possible in that endeavor. Where that leads, only he will know and he will determine further down the road. His approach, his mental approach. I can’t tell you how impressive an inspiration he is to us.”

Last May, the Steelers converted $8.26MM of the linebacker’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus. The move had no cap implications for the Steelers, but it allowed Shazier to collect on the bulk of his pay for the 2018 season immediately rather than waiting for it in increments throughout the year. It sounds like the Steelers are prepared to do right by him once again as he continues on his inspirational journey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Rumors: Steelers, Vikings, Browns

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will not play in 2018 after suffering a devastating spinal injury in 2017, but he today reiterated his desire to resume his career at some point, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Meeting with the media for the first time since his injury, Shazier took an optimistic tone, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever realistically have the chance to step on the field as a player again. Pittsburgh has already placed him on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’s now ineligible to play during the upcoming campaign. In something of a goodwill gesture, the Steelers also converted the majority of Shazier’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus, allowing the former first-round pick to collect his entire paycheck immediately.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • The Vikings have lost undrafted free agent edge rusher Hercules Mata’afa for the season after he suffered a torn ACL today, reports Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com (Twitter link). While he ultimately wasn’t selected in the draft, Mata’afa was labeled as a potential fifth-rounder by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who lauded Mata’afa’s toughness and motor. Mata’afa, a Washington State product, would have had to make the Minnesota roster on special teams, but he’ll now have to wait until his second NFL season for another opportunity. He’ll be waived/injured and removed from the Vikings’ active roster, and then placed on injured reserve if he’s not claimed.
  • Mychal Kendricksone-year, $3.5MM deal with the Browns contains a $500K signing bonus and a $1.4MM base salary, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. As such, it appears Kendricks is due either a roster bonus or a significant total in per-game roster bonuses. Either way, his new pact doesn’t appear to guarantee him a roster spot in Cleveland, especially given the Browns’ depth at the position. Cleveland believes Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, but the club already boasts Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert at the second level, meaning snaps could be sparse for Kendricks.
  • The NFL announced it has fined the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh, and docked the club its final two organized team activity sessions, following a “violation of offseason workout rules.” While the infraction is unclear, it’s possible — based both on Baltimore’s history and the club’s statement — that players were either asked to hit or practice for too long a duration, violating the collective bargaining agreement.

Steelers Adjust Ryan Shazier’s Contract

The Steelers have converted $8.26MM of linebacker Ryan Shazier’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The move will have no cap implications for the Steelers, but it will allow Shazier to collect on the bulk of his pay for the 2018 season immediately rather than wait for it in increments throughout the year. 

The Steelers placed Shazier on the PUP list on Wednesday, which officially rules him out for the 2018 season. Shazier’s contract expires after the year is through, but that’s the furthest thing from his mind as he works to recover from the spinal injury he suffered last year.

When Shazier was carted off of the field in December, doctors feared that he might never walk again. After months of grueling rehab, Shazier is now able to walk with some assistance. Someday, the linebacker hopes to return to the field.

There is no ceiling in Ryan’s recovery. He aggressively approaches it every day,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in March. “We support him in every way possible in that endeavor. Where that leads, only he will know and he will determine further down the road. His approach, his mental approach. I can’t tell you how impressive an inspiration he is to us.”

In addition to the $8.26MM signing bonus, Shazier will also earn roughly $700K in salary throughout the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Place Ryan Shazier On PUP List

The Steelers have placed Ryan Shazier on the PUP (Phyiscially Unable To Perform) list. This was the expected course of action after GM Kevin Colbert announced in February that Shazier would not be able to play in 2018. The move means that Shazier will not count against Pittsburgh’s 90-man roster.

Shazier, of course, suffered a serious spinal injury against the Bengals in Week 13. He underwent successful spinal stabilization surgery in December, but as we saw from his on-camera appearance during the NFL Draft, he has a long way to go in his recovery. An eventual return to the field has not been ruled out, but Shazier will first focus on his general well-being and mobility.

That’s a huge lift, for not only him, but for us,” said Colbert after watching Shazier walk across the NFL Draft stage to announce the Steelers’ first round pick. “To see where he’s come from to where he is and knowing where he might be able to go, it’s beyond inspirational. It’s just exciting. It’s really exciting for him.”

Shazier, meanwhile, said he was touched by the tremendous reaction he received in Dallas.

It motivates you when you get the reaction you get from the crowd,” said Shazier. “The people at Ohio State loved me before I got hurt. The people at the Steelers loved me before I got hurt. Just the fact that I am going through this, so many people have been reaching out, praying and having their hands of protection around me. It really means a lot.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Vander Esch, Steelers, Bills

The latest NFL Draft news:

  • Linked to Leighton Vander Esch for several weeks this offseason, the Steelers met with the Boise State outside linebacker on Monday night, Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reports. Pittsburgh has used first-round picks on either inside or outside ‘backers in four of its past five drafts. Three of those players remain on the team, but only two will be able to play this season. Ryan Shazier has been declared out as he attempts to recover from his frightening spine injury. Pauline wrote in March that Vander Esch won’t get past Pittsburgh at No. 28.
  • Next up for Vander Esch met the Cowboys on Wednesday morning, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. After that, he has the Cardinals and every team picking between No. 12 to No. 24, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Aside from the aforementioned clubs, the teams picking from No. 12-24 are the Bills (twice), Redskins, Packers, Ravens, Chargers, Seahawks, Lions, Bengals, Bills, Patriots, and Panthers.
  • LSU pass-rusher Arden Key met with the Saints and Lions before his pro day on Wednesday and will visit with the Bengals on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Due to injuries, key only started in eight games last year, but he still finished out with 33 tackles, 5.5 for loss, four sacks, and a forced fumble. He is widely projected to be a first round pick later this month.