Shaun Herock

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Burns, Bengals

This could be the end of the line for Artie Burns‘ career with the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The cornerback is due an $800K roster bonus on the first day of training camp, but if he can’t prove himself during minicamp, he’ll likely be released before he can collect that check.

The Steelers had high hopes for Burns after he notched six interceptions in his final season at Miami, but he’s regressed in each of his pro seasons. As a rookie, Burns tied for the team lead with three picks despite starting in only nine games. In 2017, he started in every game, but wasn’t as sharp in coverage and had just one interception. Then, last year, Burns was bumped from the starting lineup and mostly appeared on special teams in the second half of the season. The Steelers already passed on Burns’ fifth-year option for 2020 and they could be on the verge of giving up on him altogether. If they cut him, it’ll be yet another draft disappointment for the team at the cornerback position. As Bouchette notes, the club’s top three corners – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton – all came from outside the draft.

Shifting to the teams that wear orange, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • After acting as the Raiders’ interim GM in the wake of Reggie McKenzie‘s ouster, Shaun Herock did not stick with the Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime. But the longtime Oakland exec is expected to land on his feet. Herock is on the verge of joining the Browns, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Although Herock spent seven years in Oakland, he worked extensively with John Dorsey in Green Bay. Herock spent nearly two decades as the Packers’ assistant director of college scouting, working directly under Dorsey (the Packers’ college scouting director for most of that span). The Packers made three Super Bowl appearances during the duo’s time running the Pack’s scouting department. Herock will join ex-Green Bay execs Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland.
  • Here’s a bit of a surprise – Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to use linebacker Preston Brown in a three-down role this year. Brown was limited by injury in 2018, and he was placed on IR in November, but the club opted to bring him back on a one-year, $4MM deal in March. There was some speculation that the Bengals would still look for an upgrade at the middle linebacker position, but it sounds like Brown is primed for a key role on defense.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Raiders Name Shaun Herock Interim GM

Reggie McKenzie‘s exit will leave one of his lieutenants in his old role for the time being. The Raiders will promote Shaun Herock to the de facto GM role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Herock, who followed McKenzie to Oakland from Green Bay in 2012, is expected to receive an interview for the full-time position, Rapoport adds. Herock previously served as the Raiders’ director of college scouting.

Although Herock was a McKenzie hire, Rapoport notes the 47-year-old executive is Jon Gruden‘s most trusted scout, at least among those he inherited from the McKenzie regime. While it would be a shock if the Raiders did go in-house to name McKenzie’s successor, they will use this arrangement for the time being. This may increase Herock’s chances of remaining with the organization after Gruden tabs the next front office boss.

He’s a very talented personnel man; he has a lot of Raider history. We’re going to lean on him,” Mark Davis said, via Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News. “… I expect him to be a big part of this organization going forward, honestly.”

The Raiders may not hire a full-time GM — at least, the new exec may not have that job title — but they are planning to look for a new point person for their front office to work with Gruden. Lions exec Jimmy Raye, Jaguars player personnel director Chris Polian and former Buccaneers GM Mark Domenik — who worked with Gruden during his Tampa Bay tenure — are among names to monitor thus far. The Raiders may be looking for someone with experience and fortitude to push back against Gruden, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

After spending 19 years in the Packers’ scouting department, finishing his Green Bay tenure as college scouting director, Herock relocated to the Bay Area after McKenzie took the Raiders’ GM job. He’s served in the same role with the Raiders for the past seven years. Herock’s father, Ken Herock, was a former Raider player and exec who worked with Davis during the process that led to McKenzie’s hiring.