September 20th, 2021 at 1:33pm CST by Zachary Links
The Steelers have placed defensive lineman Tyson Alualu on injured reserve, per a club announcement. There’s no word on his timetable just yet, but the veteran will be out for a minimum of three weeks.
Alualu was forced out early on Sunday and fitted for a cast later that day. The Steelers went on to lose to the Raiders, 26-17. They’re now at the .500 mark heading into Week 3 when they’ll face the rival Bengals.
It’s a rough break for the Steelers’ D-Line since Alualu is their starting nose tackle. As you may recall, the 34-year-old was moments away from leaving the Steelers for Urban Meyer and the Jaguars in the spring. Instead, he had a change of heart and re-upped in Pittsburgh.
Alualu was the 10th overall pick of the Jags way back in 2010. He’s never lived up to his draft status, but he’s still been a solid player up front. That includes some quality work last year when he played on ~44% of the team’s defensive snaps and finished with 38 tackles, two sacks, and five passes defended. He received very strong marks from Pro Football Focus for his work as a run defender.
After agreeing to join Jaguars, Tyson Alualu had a change of heart. The veteran defensive end has instead re-signed with the Steelers on a two-year deal, according to sources who spoke with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
The Jaguars verbally agreed to a two-year, $6MM deal with Alualu on March 16. The 33-year-old (34 in May) planned to make it all official on a trip to Jacksonville, but a positive test for COVID-19 forced him to postpone the trip. While quarantining in his Pittsburgh home for ten days, the veteran edge rusher reconsidered his decision.
Alualu was the 10th overall pick of the Jags way back in 2010, and although he’s been a solid player, he never really lived up to his draft status. He has had a bit of a late career resurgence in Pittsburgh, including some quality work with the Steelers last year. He played on ~44% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps in 2020 and finished with 38 tackles, two sacks, and five passes defended. He received very strong marks from Pro Football Focus for his work as a run defender.
Now, the big fella will return to one of the league’s best defenses. Meanwhile, Urban Meyer will have to look elsewhere for interior line help.
March 16th, 2021 at 1:09pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Tyson Alualu is headed back to where his career started. The veteran defensive tackle is signing with the Jaguars, his agent Kenny Zuckerman announced on Twitter.
It’s a two-year deal worth $6MM for Alualu, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweeted. It’s a nice payday for a player that will turn 34 in May. It’s a familiar rate for Alualu, as each of his last three contracts signed have been two-year deals for about $6MM. The Cal product was the 10th overall pick of the Jags way back in 2010, and although he’s been a solid player he never really lived up to his draft status.
Alualu had a bit of a late career resurgence in Pittsburgh, and was widely praised for his work with the Steelers last year. He played about 44 percent of the defensive snaps in 2020 (on arguably the league’s best defense), and finished with 38 tackles, two sacks, and five passes defended. He received very strong marks from Pro Football Focus for his work as a run defender.
February 22nd, 2019 at 10:39am CST by Zachary Links
The Steelers and defensive end Tyson Alualu have agreed to an extension, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The new two-year attachment will keep Alualu under contract through the 2020 season.
Alualu spent his first seven seasons with the Jaguars before signing with the Steelers in 2017. The 31-year-old (32 in May) has since appeared in 31 games (seven starts) for the Steelers. In ’17, he logged four sacks, but had zero sacks last season and a career-low 22 tackles.
Alualu’s unimpressive stat line may have led him to re-up with Pittsburgh rather than testing the open market. He also played in just 311 snaps, so he didn’t have a ton of film for other teams to review. The advanced metrics weren’t keen on Alualu in 2018 either, though Pro Football Focus has never given him a great score.
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 coach. We 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.
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.
Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed contracts:
Morris Claiborne, CB (Jets): One year, $5MM. $2.5MM base salary. $2MM signing bonus. $31K per game bonus if on 46-man roster. (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News).
Lorenzo Alexander, LB (Bills): Two years, $5.95MM. Cap numbers of $2.55MM (2017) and $3.4MM (2018). $1.1MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM (2017, fully guaranteed) and $2.45MM (2018; $300K fully guaranteed; $1MM guaranteed for injury only). $300K roster bonus due on third day of the 2018 league year and additional per-game roster bonuses of $6K+ in 2018. Incentives up to $850K (2017) and $1.25MM (2018) in playing time and Pro Bowl incentives. (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
Geno Smith, QB (Giants): One year, $775K base. $25K workout bonus. $800K in play time incentives. $12.5K per-game roster bonuses. Max value of $2MM. (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
EJ Manuel, QB (Raiders): One year, $800K. No guaranteed money. (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
Kellen Moore, QB (Cowboys): One year, $755K. $100K fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
Tyson Alualu, DL (Steelers): Two years, $6MM. $1.75MM fully guaranteed. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
Kevin Minter, LB (Bengals): One year, $4MM. $2.1MM guaranteed. (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
Frostee Rucker, DE (Cardinals): One year, $1.08MM. $80K fully guaranteed. $500K+ available through incentives. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
The Steelers will sign former Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’ll be a two-year deal worth $6MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
Alualu, 30 in May, appeared in 14 games with ten starts last season for Jacksonville. He amassed 36 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus were down on him, just like they always have been.
Although Alualu is naturally a defensive tackle, he did see some time at defensive end in 2016. It’s not immediately clear where the Steelers plan on using him.
With Alualu gone, Chad Henne and Marcedes Lewis are the only players remaining from the Jaguars’ 2012 roster, ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco (on Twitter) notes.
Last year, Alualu appeared in 14 games with ten starts. He had 2.5 sacks and 36 total tackles and finished out as the No. 74 DT in the league by Pro Football Focus’ measure. His 47.0 overall grade was the result of a poor pass rush grade and a mediocre showing against the run. PFF has had the 29-year-old (30 in May) roughly in that range for his entire career.
The Honolulu, Hawaii native might not be a game-changer, but he could be a useful reserve for Pittsburgh thanks to his experience on both the interior and exterior of the D-Line. Right now, the Steelers have only three D-Line reserves under contract: defensive tackles Daniel McCullers and Johnny Maxey plus defensive end Leterrius Walton. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt are slated to start on the ends with Javon Hargrave in between.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.
Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:
The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.
Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).
Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.
The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.
While players at other defensive positions have flown off the board, there’s been almost no movement among off-ball linebackers. Only five of PFR’s original top-15 free agent linebackers have signed new contracts, a group that includes Dont’a Hightower, our previous No. 1 ‘backer who re-signed with the Patriots today. Zach Brown, who now holds that honor, broke out in his fifth NFL campaign and played especially well in coverage, a skill that should lead to a handsome reward. Brown, 27, met with the Raiders today, while the Dolphins also hope to schedule a visit.
The Bengals, specifically, are in the linebackermarket, as they’ve met with both Kevin Minter and Keenan Robinson in recent days. But the rest of the players on this list aren’t drawing much interest as of yet, a fact that speaks to the devaluation of the linebacker position. Teams will pay up for a three-down linebacker like Hightower, but if a player can be formation-ed off the field, he’s not going to land a hefty deal.
One linebacker who did prove he could stay on the field on third down was Perry Riley, who played 370 coverage snaps for the Raiders last season. Riley is still only 28 years old, but posted awful marks from Pro Football Focus during his previous campaigns with Washington. Whether it was Oakland’s scheme (including its talented pass rushers) that allowed Riley to flourish, or a true breakout coming in the middle of a career, Riley could help a number of clubs. The Raiders are reportedly working to bring him back.
The top two corners still on the open market are both former Cowboys, and Brandon Carr looks like the surer bet to return to Dallas at this point. Morris Claiborne, meanwhile, has drawn interest from the Ravens, and most opposing clubs believe he’ll end up signing with Baltimore. Clairborne, 27, appeared to be a prime overpay candidate heading into the offseason, but if the Ravens can land him on a short-term deal, they’d be making a wise investment.
Now that all charges have been dropped against Darrelle Revis, he’ll make for an interesting test case in free agency. Clearly, Revis is not the shutdown corner he once was, and may even be mulling a move to safety as he closes his career. But clubs in the market for secondary help could do worse than Revis, and he should be on a roster when the regular season rolls around.
Most of the safeties on this list are in-the-box types — that’s thanks to the fact that center field-esque safeties are more rare and thus more expensive. Recently-released veterans such as Jairus Byrd, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham, however, offer coverage ability and would make for decent signings on short pacts. T.J. McDonald and Bradley McDougald, on other hand, are big hitters that will patrol near the line of scrimmage. McDougald, specifically, will take a visit with the Seahawks this week.
Chris Prosinski is just a special teamer, but he’s a great special teamer. While he only played 173 defensive snaps in 2016, he saw time on more than 80% of the Bears’ special teams plays, and was listed as one of the season’s best special teams players by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranked the Cardinals, Jets, and Texans as the bottom-three teams in special teams DVOA, and any of those clubs would benefit from adding Prosinski.
Demand is not high for placekickers at the moment, as only the Giants and Bengals stand out as clubs that immediately need a kicker. Injuries and ineffectiveness are sure to strike the position, however, at which point the specialists on this list will surely receive calls. Dan Carpenter and Mike Nugent missed a combined 11 extra points in 2016, and given that he topped both Carpenter and Nugent in field goal percentage, Nick Folk should be the first kicker on clubs’ emergency list.
Free agency officially opens on March 9, so let’s round up a few FA-related notes and rumors from around the league:
Although it is difficult, as usual, to pin down the Patriots‘ free agency plans, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe does his best, writing that the club is “taking a long look” at the tight end position but that Martellus Bennett could certainly be back, that the team is in the defensive end market now that Chris Long is gone and Jabaal Sheard appears unlikely to return, and that Logan Ryan is likely to price himself out of the Patriots’ price range. Volin names the Jaguars and Raiders as two teams with serious interest in Bennett.
In a separate piece, O’Halloran lists the Jaguars‘ most pressing needs in free agency and examines how they could address those needs with an aggressive approach or with a more disciplined approach. He predicts that the Jags will land this year’s top FA cornerback, A.J. Bouye, if Bouye does not re-sign with Houston.
Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, citing an agent who represents a FA safety, says that the Cardinals‘ Tony Jefferson can expect to land a contract that will pay him $7MM per year (Twitter link). Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, though, tweets that Jefferson is likely to get paid closer to $10MM per year.
Mike Klis of 9News.com writes that the Broncos are seeking help on both the offensive and defensive line in free agency, but he observes that the club may be operating with two budgets: one that includes Tony Romo, and one that doesn’t. Even if Denver does not land the long-time Cowboys signal-caller, Klis says the Broncos will have to manage the cap creatively, as they have a number of housekeeping moves to make that will eat into their $35MM of cap room, and offensive and defensive linemen do not come cheap on the open market.