Steven Johnson

XFL Draft Day 1 Fallout

The XFL’s two-day draft began Tuesday. In addition to certain quarterbacks being assigned to teams, several notable players went off the board in the rebooting league’s selection event.

The league divided its draft into sections. Skill-position players (and other quarterbacks) went in one portion of the draft, with offensive linemen going second and then select defenders in another section. Connor Cook was the first quarterback to go in the non-allocation portion of the draft, being selected by the Houston franchise at No. 2 overall.

Here are some recent NFL skill-position players taken:

Here are the notable offensive linemen selected in that section of the draft:

Lastly, some front-seven names of note came off in that part of this event:

For a full team-by-team breakdown, Sporting News cataloged the first parts of this event.

Christian Hackenberg Signs With AAF

Former Jets second-round pick Christian Hackenberg has agreed to play for the Alliance of American Football, according to an announcement from the league. He’ll be joined by quarterback Scott Tolzien, wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers, safety Rahim Moore, linebacker Steven Johnson, and tight end Wes Saxton, the AAF says. 

The AAF will kick off in February, meaning that Hackenberg has likely exhausted all present options in the NFL. Hackenberg never saw the field in his two seasons with the Jets and failed to hook on with the Raiders after an offseason trade brought him to Oakland. After that, he lasted only a few weeks on the Eagles’ 90-man roster and his stint on the Bengals’ practice squad ended when he was released earlier this month.

Hackenberg became Penn State’s all-time leader in passing yards (8,457) and touchdowns (48) after three years on campus. His stats did not jump off of the page and he completed just 53.5% of his passes in his final collegiate season, but NFL teams were enamored by his size and pro-style experience in 2016. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan reached for him at No. 51 overall and that gamble never paid off.

AAF contracts probably include an out clause for NFL offers, so Hackenberg and the league’s other players could conceivably get back into the NFL in the second half of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Sign LB Steven Johnson

The Ravens have made a change at linebacker, as they’ve signed free agent Steven Johnson and released Jonathan Freeny, the club announced today.Steven Johnson (Vertical)

Johnson should be familiar to Baltimore not only because he’s worked out for the club twice in the past month, but because he’s spent the past year-plus with the division rival Steelers. The 29-year-old Johnson, who’s also played for the Titans and Broncos during a six-year NFL career, has bounced on and off the Pittsburgh roster this season. He’s been active for only seven games over the past two years, and he’s played exclusively on special teams thus far in 2017.

The same can be said of Freeny, whose 35 total snaps this year have all come on special teams duty. Freeny, a five-year NFL veteran, started his career as a special teams player in Miami, but his most notable time came with the Patriots from 2015-16. During that time, Freeny appeared in 18 games and started 11 contests before going down with a shoulder injury last October.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 10/16/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Workout Updates: 9/27/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

  • LSs Andrew East and Anthony Kukwa (link)

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/23/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • Jason Verrett‘s 2017 season ended up including just one game. The cornerback will undergo season-ending left knee surgery, and the Chargers placed the cornerback on IR Saturday. To make room on their 53-man roster, the Bolts signed linebacker Nick Dzubnar, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. Dzubnar played in 20 games for the Chargers over the past two seasons.
  • Steven Johnson‘s transaction-heavy month continued today when the Steelers cut the veteran linebacker and signed linebacker L.J. Fort, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers made this reverse transaction last week, and Fort re-signed with Pittsburgh’s practice squad soon after. Johnson’s been involved in four September transactions. He figures to be a candidate to re-sign.
  • The Bears promoted linebacker John Timu from their practice squad and cut wide receiver Tre McBride, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Already down multiple key receivers, the Bears currently are carrying just four on their active roster.
  • The Titans also made a receiver transaction before their Week 3 game, swapping out pass-catchers. The team promoted wideout Darius Jennings from the practice squad and waived wideout Zach Pascal. Jennings has spent time with several teams prior to this promotion, but his most relevant work came in making 14 receptions for the 2015 Browns.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/12/17

Today’s minor roster moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

  • Cut: CB LaDarius Gunter

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: ILB Steven Johnson
  • Cut: LB L.J. Fort

Steelers Activate Le’Veon Bell

It’s official now. Le’Veon Bell is a part of the Steelers’ 53-man roster going into the 2017 season.

The Steelers activated the fifth-year running back on Saturday and cut linebacker Steven Johnson, whom they re-signed earlier this week, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

Johnson played in Pittsburgh last season, seeing action in six games, after stays with the Broncos and Titans from 2012-15. The Steelers cut Johnson upon slashing their roster to 53 players but re-signed him two days later. The 29-year-old Pennsylvania native could conceivably be brought back soon.

Bell, who signed his franchise tender earlier this week, will play in Week 1 for the first time since the 2014 season. He missed the past two Steelers openers because of suspensions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/4/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Browns claimed offensive lineman Zach Banner off waivers from the Colts, who cut him despite drafting him in the fourth round this year. Cleveland made room for Banner by placing offensive lineman Rod Johnson on IR. Additionally, the Browns continued their busy offseason regarding secondary turnover by releasing former safety starter Ed Reynolds from IR.
  • The Steelers re-signed linebacker Steven Johnson and waived safety Jordan Dangerfield with an injury designation. Johnson initially saw his name appear on Pittsburgh’s cut list Saturday, but the backup will return. Pittsburgh also placed cornerback Cameron Sutton, a rookie third-rounder, on IR.
  • Jacquies Smith will move from the PUP list back to the Buccaneers‘ 53-man roster. The team reinstated the defensive end on Monday. A fourth-year player, Smith is expected to be a rotational player in Tampa Bay this season.
  • The Dolphins re-signed tackle Sam Young. Miami cut the offensive lineman on Saturday but will keep him around for now. Miami guaranteed Young’s salary, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets, signing Young this week instead of next because an unspecified team wanted him. This will mark Young’s eighth NFL season. The Dolphins signed him to an extension in December.
  • Quarterback Jeff Driskel will land on the Bengals‘ IR list. The former 49ers sixth-rounder has yet to play in a game.
  • A starter in three games last season, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin landed on the Jets‘ IR Monday. To replace the third-year player, Gang Green re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter. Now a seventh-year veteran, Carter played a depth role with the Jets last season.
  • Wide receiver Chris Matthews re-signed with the Ravens, who made room on their 53-man roster by placing cornerback Maurice Canady on IR.
  • The Falcons released defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, who resides on the Commissioner’s Exempt list as a result of misdemeanor charges from 2016. While Hageman is on that list, the Falcons will not have to pay Hageman.
  • The Chargers claimed linebacker Hayes Pullard off waivers from the Jaguars. A former Browns seventh-rounder in 2015, Pullard started two games for the 2015 Jags and played in all 16 Jacksonville contests last season.
  • Jelani Jenkins was expected to start for the Raiders, but the former Dolphins linebacker found himself on the team’s cut list Saturday. The Raiders, though, reached an injury settlement with the fifth-year linebacker, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (on Twitter). Jenkins suffered a groin injury during the preseason. Oakland also reached an injury settlement with Jaydon Mickens, per Gehlken, who adds Mickens suffered an ankle injury.
  • The Seahawks waived cornerback Demetrius McCray with an injury settlement, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets.
  • The Redskins reached an injury settlement with center Ronald Patrick, waiving the interior blocker from IR as a result.

Steelers’ Roster Now At 53

The Steelers have reduced their roster to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Cut:

Waived/injured: