Stephon Tuitt

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Tuitt, Colts

Multiple standout defensive linemen will be back in action in Week 13, and although the Ravens still have several players on their reserve/COVID-19 list, their roster is no longer as depleted as it was Wednesday.

  • Baltimore’s coronavirus list still houses 10 players, including Lamar Jackson, but the team will have multiple starters back at practice soon. The Ravens activated Calais Campbell, Mark Ingram and defensive lineman Jihad Ward from their virus list. Ingram was eligible to play against the Steelers on Wednesday, but the Ravens held him out. A five-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has not played since Nov. 8 due to a calf strain.
  • The 11-0 Steelers will have Stephon Tuitt back in action when they face Washington on Monday. They activated the seventh-year starter from their reserve/COVID list. Three Steelers remain on the virus list, including starters James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey.
  • Pricey trade acquisition DeForest Buckner came off the Colts‘ virus list as well. Buckner landed on Indianapolis’ COVID list after testing positive for the virus in late November. The Colts, who allowed the Titans to rush for 229 yards in Buckner’s absence last week, also removed Jonathan Taylor from their virus list.
  • The Ravens announced Saturday that four strains of the coronavirus were present in their building. While the team believes it contained three of those strains, the fourth ended up spreading to the point it forced the NFL to postpone the team’s Steelers rematch three times. Ten straight days commenced with at least one Raven testing positive for the virus, and the team had as many as 23 players on its reserve/COVID list at the height of the outbreak. Four straight days, however, have passed without a Ravens positive test.

Ravens, Steelers Place 3 Players On Reserve/COVID-19 List

5:52pm: While a sixth straight day did produce a Ravens positive coronavirus test, just one player’s test came back positive Friday. Practice squad offensive lineman Will Holden tested positive, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Holden will become the 15th player on Baltimore’s reserve/COVID-19 list. This will continue to be the NFL situation to monitor over the next few days.

3:28pm: The Ravens and Steelers each moved three players to their respective reserve/COVID-19 lists Friday. This comes shortly after the NFL pushed the AFC North’s top rivalry back to Tuesday night.

Stephon Tuitt, defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs and offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins are now on the Steelers’ virus list, while the Ravens moved fullback Patrick Ricard, long snapper Morgan Cox and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike to theirs. Lamar Jackson also landed on Baltimore’s COVID list. The reigning MVP tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday; Ricard confirmed (via Twitter) he tested positive as well.

For the Ravens, this increases their COVID list to 14 players — including key cogs Jackson, Ricard, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Matt Skura, Pernell McPhee, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. This concerning number resulted in the NFL moving the Ravens-Steelers rematch for a second time. The 7pm Tuesday slot, however, represents conceivably the final Week 12 window for this game. Another delay would test the NFL in a way previous virus issues have not.

It is not known if Tuitt tested positive. If he did not, he could still play Tuesday. Depending on when the standout defensive lineman’s last contact with a COVID-19-positive person occurred, he could still be activated in time for the Steelers’ Tuesday game. With the NFL moving Week 13’s Ravens-Cowboys game to Monday, Dec. 7, Jackson could be activated. Had the NFL kept that game on Thursday — which it will if the Steelers-Ravens tilt cannot be played Tuesday — Jackson would have been ineligible to return for that contest.

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Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt Done For Year

Stephon Tuitt left Sunday night’s game midway through, and he’ll miss the rest of the season due to the chest injury he suffered. The Steelers fear they may be without one of their long-tenured defensive ends for a while, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (video link) the team has concern Tuitt suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

Surgery is ahead for the sixth-year veteran as he watches the Steelers from a distance. It all has to be extra frustrating for Tuitt as his Steelers are 2-4 through six games.

Tuitt and Cameron Heyward have served as Pittsburgh’s defensive end starters for the past five seasons. Both are playing on high-end extensions and play key roles for a Steelers team that’s seen productivity from its pass rush this season. Tuitt was on pace to eclipse his single-season sack high (6.5 in 2015), having recorded 3.5 in six Steelers contests.

Heyward and Tuitt exited Week 6 as the NFL’s fourth- and sixth-best interior defenders, per Pro Football Focus, so losing the former second-round pick is a considerable blow for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has veteran backup Tyson Alualu and sixth-round rookie Isaiah Buggs as backup defensive ends. Alualu would be the next man up opposite Heyward.

Beyond this year, the 6’6″, 303-pound lineman still has three seasons to go on his contract with a 2020 cap hit of $14.9MM.

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Steelers Restructure Stephon Tuitt’s Deal

The Steelers have converted $5.195MM of defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt’s $6M base salary into a signing bonus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The move will create $3.9MM in desperately needed cap space for the Steelers. 

Heading into Tuesday, the Steelers had just $1.091MM in breathing room, the lowest in the NFL. Now that the Steelers have roughly $5MM in space, the Broncos (~$4.8MM) have the least amount of cap room in the league.

Tuitt, 26, registered 5.5 sacks and 45 total tackles in 14 games last season. A full-time starter since 2015, Tuitt has 20 sacks to his credit, but has yet to play a full 16-game slate since joining the first string.

Last year, Tuitt agreed to a similar contract adjustment in order to accommodate the Steelers.

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North Notes: McCarthy, Lions, Tuitt, Ravens

Mike McCarthy‘s enjoyed the benefit of coaching two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and the Packers have qualified for nine playoff brackets in the coach’s 12 previous seasons. But with the team in danger of missing the NFC bracket for the second straight season, McCarthy appears to be firmly on the hot seat. The 13th-year Green Bay coach’s job status is “pretty clearly” uncertain regarding 2019, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). McCarthy signed a one-year extension to take him through the ’19 season, so the team isn’t committed long-term here. He’s now reporting to team president Mark Murphy under the post-Ted Thompson power structure, and with Brian Gutekunst now GM, different voices will have a say if McCarthy will be brought back.

That’s the job. That’s the way this business has gone,” McCarthy said, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, when asked about his status. “I’m not going to get into comparables, but at the end of the day that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coachWe set a standard here the past 12 years and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard.”

The Packers are venturing near must-win territory if they want to secure their ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons. They face the Vikings in Minnesota next week.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • The post-Megatron Lions relied on the Marvin JonesGolden Tate tandem. For the first time since Calvin Johnson retired, neither will suit up for Detroit. Jones is out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers after missing practice this week, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein reports the veteran Lions wideout is seeking a second opinion on his injured right knee. Initial tests revealed no damage to Jones’ ACL or MCL, and Jones was diagnosed with a bone bruise. He’ll miss only his second game as a Lion. T.J. Jones would likely be the starter in Marvin Jones‘ place.
  • T.J. Lang‘s Lions tenure hasn’t gone as smoothly from a health standpoint. The former Pro Bowl guard landed on IR this week because of a neck injury, but that setback is not believed to be career-threatening, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Lang also suffered a concussion that forced him to miss time earlier this season. He only played in six games this season after missing three in 2017. Set for his age-32 season next year, Lang — with an $11.1MM cap number — will be a release candidate in the offseason. The Lions could save more than $8MM by releasing the acclaimed blocker. Lang is due a $500K roster bonus on the fourth day of the upcoming league year.
  • Darius Slay, however, will be back for the Lions after missing Week 10. Bears wideout Allen Robinson gouged the Lions in Slay’s absence, but the All-Pro cornerback was not on the injury report as of Friday and will return Sunday.
  • While the 2018 Jaguars haven’t been the kind of impediment the 2017 version was, the Steelers will be without a key starter in their attempt to beat a team that went 2-0 against them last season. Stephon Tuitt will miss Sunday’s game with an elbow injury he sustained against the Panthers. Tyson Alualu will start in Tuitt’s place up front, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Although Robert Griffin III has been mentioned as a possible Ravens starter Sunday, the expectation remains Lamar Jackson will take the reins, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Jackson’s hospital trip Thursday, coupled with Joe Flacco‘s hip injury, left Griffin as the Ravens’ lone practice quarterback that day. But Jackson returned to practice Friday.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Incognito, Steelers

After the NFL recently announced their new national anthem policy, more details about the owners’ process are trickling out. There apparently was no official vote on the new anthem policy, only an informal polling of owners by league executives, according to Seth Wickersham of ESPN (Twitter links). Wickersham added that Raiders owner Mark Davis abstained from the vote and was “one of the most eloquent speakers on the social justice issues.” Davis joined 49ers owner Jed York, who made his abstention public yesterday, in abstaining from the vote.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Free agent offensive lineman Richie Incognito apparently believed he was being followed by FBI agents and was in the possession of secret NSA documents when he was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold yesterday (Twitter link via USA Today’s A.J. Perez). Incognito recently announced his retirement from the league, but has since wavered and indicated he’d like to continue playing with a team other than the Bills, who he played the last three seasons with. Incidents like this certainly won’t help Incognito’s quest to latch on with another team.
  • Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt played with a torn bicep during the 2017 season, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tuitt made clear that he’s fully healthy now, saying the injury “is back healed again and strong and I can’t wait to stick people in the mouth with it.” Tuitt was signed to a $60MM extension before last season, and will be counted on to play a big role this year.
  • Bengals star defensive end Carlos Dunlap missed the beginning of OTAs, according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called it “not a big deal,” Dunlap will miss out on a $300K workout bonus. Dunlap, a two-time Pro-Bowler, is entering the final year of his contract and is apparently angling for an extension.

Steelers Create Nearly $15MM In Cap Space

Mired in another negotiation with Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers will have a friendlier cap situation to work with after two starters agreed to adjust their contracts.

The team will take the restructure route to create space. Both David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt agreed to convert their 2018 base salaries into roster and signing bonuses, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports, and this will free up $13.26MM in 2018 cap space.

Neither player will lose any money, with these being merely adjustments to help out in the short term. Tuitt, who signed an extension just before last season, now has a $10.21MM signing bonus included in his contract. DeCastro, extended just before the 2016 season, has a $6.79MM signing bonus coming his way.

DeCastro will count for $5.69MM against Pittsburgh’s 2018 cap as a result of this conversion, and Tuitt will represent $5.43MM of the Steelers’ ’18 payroll. Both will earn $790K in base salary this season. However, these adjustments will inflate the linemen’s 2019 figures. Tuitt comes in at $13.64MM for 2019, and DeCastro’s cap hit is set to be $11.97MM next year.

Bell stands as the only high-profile UFA for a team that’s usually not too big on free agency, but with the running back franchise tag cost rising to $14.5MM and a decision due by March 6, the team appears to be preparing for a tag scenario — if only as a means of retaining negotiating rights through mid-July.

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Extra Points: Steelers, Tuitt, Saints

Here’s a look around the NFL:

  • Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt has a chance to play this week against Minnesota, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com). Tuitt has been classified as week-to-week with his bicep injury.
  • In light of the Zach Strief injury news, Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter) notes that likely replacement Senio Kelemete can earn $200K by playing in 50% of the team’s snaps and up to $600K at 70%. The Saints will be without the tackle for at least a few weeks.
  • Texans guard Jeff Allen is expected to miss at least one game with an ankle injury, Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets. Allen, one of Houston’s starting guards, is in year two of a four-year, $28MM pact. He appeared in 14 games last season, all starts.
  • Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is working out for the Texans this week, a source tells ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). The former Pittsburgh receiver could round out a banged up unit that is missing both Bruce Ellington (concussion) and Will Fuller (collarbone).
  • The Chiefs gave running back Akeem Hunt an upgraded practice squad contract, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. He’ll now make $36K per week, which comes out to $615K for the year. Hunt signed on with KC’s taxi squad on Sept. 5 and it sounds like the Chiefs weren’t the only team interested in his services.

Good News For Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is week-to-week with a biceps injury, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s not ideal, but the Steelers are breathing a sigh of relief after they initially feared a complete tear of the muscle. Stephon Tuitt

Tuitt exited the Steelers’ season opener against the Browns in the first quarter. He could miss next week’s game against the Vikings and Week 3 against the Bears, but the Steelers should get the starting bookend back in the lineup before long.

The 25-year-old recorded 37 tackles, four sacks, 20.5 pressures, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles in 2016. The advanced metrics told a similar story – he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 ranked interior defender.

The Steelers rewarded him ths offseason a five-year $60MM extension that includes $14MM in full guarantees. The former second-round pick was scheduled to earn a base salary of just over $1MM for the upcoming season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Fear DL Stephon Tuitt Tore Biceps

The Steelers fear that defensive end Stephon Tuitt tore his biceps on Sunday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). If confirmed, the injury will end Tuitt’s 2017 season.Stephon Tuitt (Vertical)

Tuitt secured himself financially before the campaign began, agreeing to a five-year $60MM extension that includes $14MM in full guarantees. Originally scheduled to earn a base salary of just over $1MM for the upcoming season, Tuitt will now earn $14MM this year: $1MM in base salary, plus a $11MM signing bonus and a $2MM roster bonus.

A second-round pick in the 2014 draft, Tuitt has made 44 appearances and 32 over three seasons with Pittsburgh. One of the more underrated defensive lineman in the league, the 25-year-old managed four sacks ad 20.5 pressures in 2016 while grading as the NFL’s No. 20 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus.

If Tuitt is done for the year, the Steelers will turn to veteran Tyson Alualu and 2015 sixth-rounder Leterrius Walton to take on more snaps, while practice squad defensive end Lavon Hooks is now a candidate for promotion. Alternatively, free agents with experience in a 3-4 defense — such as Arthur Jones, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, or Jaye Howard — could be on Pittsburgh’s radar.

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