Tyler Matakevich

AFC Notes: Mason, Herndon, Foreman

Zack Martin just inked a massive extension with the Cowboys, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wonders what effect Martin’s contract will have on Shaq Mason‘s future with the Patriots. Mason is not on the same level as Martin or Andrew Norwell — who signed a similarly large deal with the Jaguars this offseason — but he is still a very good guard and should command upwards of $10MM per year when he hits free agency at the end of the 2018 campaign. Reiss is skeptical that New England will pony up that much cash for a guard, so this could be Mason’s last year in Foxborough.

Reiss also observes that other key players, like DE Trey Flowers and K Stephen Gostkowski, are entering the last year of their respective contracts, but he does not offer an opinion as to how those negotiations will play out.

Now for more notes from the AFC:

  • More details have emerged regarding the arrest of Jets‘ rookie TE Chris Herndon. Herndon, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was charged with driving while intoxicated several weeks ago, and per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, an eyewitness told New Jersey State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph. Herndon’s SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire, and the SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. Eyewitness reports are notoriously shaky, but if this one is accurate, it will not bode well for Herndon, either from an NFL or legal perspective.
  • The Bills‘ WR corps is pretty thin overall, so second-year wideout Zay Jones — whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — is generally considered to have a stranglehold on Buffalo’s No. 2 wideout job opposite Kelvin Benjamin. However, Jones has dealt with some issues this offseason, as he was arrested in March and underwent knee surgery, and new GM Brandon Beane said the East Carolina product will not be handed anything. During an interview with WGR 550 (via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com), Beane said, “He’s not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He’ll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He’s only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or A.J. [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form.”
  • Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides an in-depth look at Texans RB D’Onta Foreman‘s recovery from a torn Achilles, which ended his rookie campaign prematurely in November. There is still no specific date for Foreman’s return, and it is unlikely he will be a full participant at the beginning of training camp next month (even the 2018 regular season opener is up in the air at this point). However, the former Texas standout remains confident that he will eventually regain the form that made him a 2017 third-round pick and the heir apparent to Lamar Miller.
  • The Ravens have some depth along their offensive line, part of which is last year’s fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa. Siragusa suffered a brutal injury last August, as he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. Of course, that ended his rookie campaign before it began, but as Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes, Siragusa was able to fully participate in last week’s minicamp. He will compete for a backup role this year and could soon become a starting guard or center if he can remain healthy. Alex Lewis, who also missed the entire 2017 season, is expected to start somewhere along the O-line this year — either at left guard, center, or right tackle — but he was held out of minicamp due to back spasms. Head coach John Harbaugh said Lewis should be ready for training camp, but the Nebraska product’s injury history will be cause for concern until he can manage to stay out of the training room for an extended period of time.
  • Tyler Matakevich, a 2016 seventh-round pick, will be given every opportunity to win the Steelers‘ starting ILB job alongside Vince Williams, per Will Graves of the Associated Press. Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at that spot due to Ryan Shazier‘s horrific injury, but the team is confident Matakevich is ready to take the reins. He will need to fend off veteran Jon Bostic, whom the team signed this offseason.

North Notes: Bears, Browns, Ragnow

Fans of another Midwestern team will recognize much of what the 2018 Bears‘ offense looks like. Matt Nagy said, via Dan Pompei of The Athletic (subscription required) the Bears’ offense will be 70-80 percent the same as what the Chiefs run under Andy Reid.

It will be different in some regards, which is only fair to our coaches on offense and the ideas they have,” Nagy said. “But the identity is going to be the same. It will feel very similar to Kansas City’s. We’re in the lab now. That’s the fun part. All the coaches are giving their ideas and thoughts. Coach [Reid] always said he had 51 percent of the say. So ultimately, he had final say. Now I have that. There are plays I liked that Coach [Reid] didn’t like, so now those plays are in.

Reid and Nagy each had roles as the Chiefs’ primary play-caller during the pair’s two years working in an HC-OC relationship, with Nagy’s shift toward play-calling responsibilities coinciding with Kansas City’s late-season charge toward a second straight AFC West title. He’ll attempt to replicate that with the Bears.

With OTAs continuing for some and minicamps starting elsewhere this week, here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • The Browns believe Mychal Kendricks can play all three linebacker positions, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Lining up the ex-Eagles starter — who is set to sign with the Browns on Monday — in the middle would give him the best chance of starting, with Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey on the outside. However, Joe Schobert started all 16 Browns games as the middle linebacker and was the top-rated (per Pro Football Focus) Browns ‘backer last season. Kendricks was unhappy with his role with the Eagles, but in Cleveland, the Browns’ recent futility notwithstanding, he’s going to be playing with a deeper group of linebackers. A three-down role won’t be guaranteed. Of course, the previous Browns regime re-signed Collins and extended Kirksey, which could complicate matters a bit as John Dorsey steps into his first full season with the franchise.
  • Also in Cleveland, Browns coaches are high on Duke Johnson, despite the team signing Carlos Hyde and drafting Nick Chubb, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com envisions an extension coming to fruition this offseason. The Browns have nearly $70MM in cap space, and Johnson would seemingly fit alongside either Hyde or Chubb as a passing-down back. The sides have been discussing a re-up for a bit now.
  • Despite being open to Joel Bitonio as Joe Thomas‘ replacement, the Browns kept him at left guard at OTAs this week, per Terry Pluto of cleveland.com. Bitonio would prefer to stay at guard, and the Browns — who drafted Austin Corbett, Bitonio’s left tackle successor at Nevada — in Round 2. Corbett is currently working behind Shon Coleman at left tackle.
  • On the subject of rookie offensive linemen’s roles, the Lions have begun first-round pick Frank Ragnow‘s tenure at guard, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes, adding he took some first-team reps at that spot. This is interesting considering Graham Glasgow played well at guard last season. The Lions have T.J. Lang entrenched at the other guard slot and signed ex-Jets center Wesley Johnson. However, Detroit’s discussed the notion of moving Glasgow to center. Ragnow played center for all but one game as an upperclassman but started throughout his sophomore season at guard for Arkansas.
  • Tyler Matakevich underwent surgery to repair three areas — his rotator cuff, labrum and a biceps muscle — repaired shortly after the Steelers‘ divisional-round loss to the Jaguars. And the Steelers subsequently signed Jon Bostic, seemingly to replace Ryan Shazier this season. However, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes Matakevich was the first-string inside linebacker alongside Vince Williams throughout OTAs this week. While this situation is likely far from being settled, the Steelers holding a competition between a 2016 seventh-round pick and a sixth-year veteran who started 14 games last season is interesting.

AFC Draft Signings: Chiefs, Texans, Jaguars

The Chiefs have signed second-round pick Chris Jones, a source tells PFT (Twitter link). The defensive lineman out of Mississippi State becomes KC’s first rookie to sign. Jones’ stock rose in the weeks leading up to the draft as more and more teams zeroed in on interior pass rushers.

Here are the rest of today’s draft signings from the AFC:

  • The Texans signed fifth-round nose tackle D.J. Reader, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter).
  • The Jaguars sign sixth-round quarterback Brandon Allen, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets.
  • The Jaguars signed sixth-round linebacker/defensive end Tyrone Holmes, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Linebacker Jatavis Brown inked his rookie contract with the Chargers, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The Akron product was taken in the fifth-round.
  • The Jets signed seventh-round punter Lachlan Edwards, according to his agency on Twitter.
  • The Patriots signed sixth-round linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill to a $2.44MM deal, including a $100K signing bonus, as his slot dictates, Wilson tweets.
  • The Steelers announced the signing of seventh round draft picks Demarcus Ayers and Tyler Matakevich. Ayers, a wide receiver/returner from the University of Houston, and Matakevich, a linebacker from Temple, are now the first two Pittsburgh rookies to sign from this year’s class.
  • The Ravens signed fifth-round defensive end Matt Judon, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Texans signed fifth-round safety K.J. Dillon, as Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.