Ryan Shazier

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.

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier Won’t Play In 2018

Linebacker Ryan Shazier will not play football in 2018, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told reporters at the NFL combine. Colbert stressed that Shazier will continue to be a valuable member of the team and noted that he is “covered” contractually. Ryan Shazier (Vertical)

Shazier suffered a scary spinal injury while making a tackle against the Bengals on Dec. 4. The news on Shazier’s overall recovery has been promising, but it’s still unclear as to whether he’ll be able to return to football at some point. For his part, Shazier says he wants to play again.

“I got to get back,” Shazier said recently. “Right now I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process. I’m really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I’m taking every step of the way, I’m giving everything I got. The therapists are like, ‘Man this is crazy; I’ve never seen anyone work this hard.’ They almost see progression every day.” 

Shazier, 25, tallied 68 tackles and 11 pass defenses before the injury and 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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Shazier, Browns, Steelers

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said in a podcast hosted by Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix (Twitter link) that he intends to play football again and still has Hall of Fame aspirations after sustaining a spinal injury while making a tackle against the Bengals on Dec. 4.

Shazier was speaking publicly for the first time since the injury. The two-time Pro-Bowler underwent spinal stabilization surgery in December.

“I got to get back,” Shazier said on the podcast. “Right now I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process. I’m really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I’m taking every step of the way, I’m giving everything I got. The therapists are like, ‘Man this is crazy; I’ve never seen anyone work this hard.’ They almost see progression every day.” 

Shazier, 25, racked up 68 tackles and 11 pass defenses through 12 games prior to the injury and was still selected to the Pro Bowl. He also logged 55 tackles in each of the previous two seasons. He’s made several public appearances since the injury, with the latest one coming at Tuesday’s Penguins game, and has provided updates on his recovery process through social media.

Here’s more from around the AFC North:

  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer takes a look at some questions facing the Browns‘ receiving corps this offseason, including a reunion with Terrelle Pryor. The Redskins signed Pryor to a one-year $6MM deal last offseason after the Browns converted the former Ohio State quarterback to wide receiver full time in 2015. Cabot also breaks down some questions facing Josh Gordon and 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman.
  • Martavis Bryant was identified as a potential trade candidate this offseason as Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com went over some of the players most likely to move via trade. The emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster coupled with the fact that Bryant requested a trade in a trade in October make him a prime candidate. Bryant did tell reporters in January, though, that he’d like to return to the Steelers next season and would be ready for OTAs. Bryant had a career-low three touchdown catches last season despite playing in a career-high 15 games.
  • It was reported Wednesday that pending Ravens free agent tight end Crockett Gillmore is looking to move to the offensive line.

AFC North Rumors: Ravens, Haley, Steelers

John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens were interested in Torrey Smith last offseason, and Joe Flacco called his former deep threat while he was a free agent, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes. Smith ultimately decided to sign with the Eagles, and it’s unclear what the Ravens offered (if one was made) for a reunion. Smith, who the 49ers cut prior to free agency last year, was interested in a Ravens return as well. But he didn’t recall the Ravens and his camp getting far on a deal.

I don’t really think so. We talked, but with the way the timing was going, I kind of just had to make a decision,” Smith told Zreibec about the sides’ 2017 discussions. “For me, this time around, it wasn’t about finances at all. It was about the right situation and the right time and that’s really kind of how it’s going to probably end up being for the rest of my career.

… Obviously, I had interest in coming back. That’s home. I have a lot of respect for everyone over there. They know that. It’s love forever. But to have the opportunity to come up here with some guys I was familiar with and to play in my wife’s hometown, that was pretty cool as well.”

However, with the now-two-time Super Bowl champion wideout a possible free agent again soon — the cap-strapped Eagles hold a team option for his $5MM 2018 wages — he may have another decision to make. And with Baltimore’s post-Smith deep threat, Mike Wallace, also a UFA, the sides could potentially revisit a reunion. Smith’s best seasons came with the Ravens, and he hasn’t come particularly close to matching his Baltimore work over the past two seasons.

Here’s the latest from some of the Ravens’ top rivals.

  • The Browns‘ offense may like quite familiar to a certain fanbase next season. Todd Haley will be bringing over his offensive system from Pittsburgh, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. The longtime OC and new Browns play-caller will be implementing his scheme, complete with new terminology, so it will mark a significant adjustment from a team that operated without an OC the past two seasons. However, some of Hue Jackson‘s previous concepts will be retained, Haley said.
  • While Ryan Shazier continues his rehab from the spine injury that has his NFL career in danger of ending, the Pro Bowl linebacker is working out at Steelers facilities daily. Kevin Colbert said Shazier works out at the team’s headquarters and attends meetings in addition to his rehab performed at an outpatient facility. Guaranteed $8.7MM next season, Shazier has been working with coaches watching film and observing scouting meetings, Joe Rutter of the the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Owner Art Rooney said last week Shazier would have a role with the 2018 Steelers even if he can’t play next season. The linebacker was recently released from a Pittsburgh hospital after at two-month stay and displayed progress at a recent Pittsburgh Penguins game by standing up, with assistance, and remaining on his feet to a standing ovation.
  • The Steelers have already restructured two starters’ deals to create 2018 cap space and may well continue to do so. Even after they reorganized David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt‘s contracts, the Steelers have barely $7MM in projected space. Pittsburgh used to be against this tactic, but Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports team VP of football and business administration Omar Khan is believed to have convinced ownership to proceed in this fashion years ago. Khan serves as the franchise’s chief negotiator. While Tuitt and DeCastro’s 2019 cap numbers rose because of last week’s transactions, Bouchette notes the Steelers believe the cap’s continuous rises will help absorb those figures — the 2019 cap could well surpass $190MM — and keep the team from having to cut essential personnel to cover for their accounting tricks.