Tyson Alualu

Steelers, Tyson Alualu Agree To Extension

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Contract Details: Claiborne, Geno Smith

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).

Steelers To Sign Tyson Alualu

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)."<strong

Alualu has not lived up to his Top 10 draft status in the NFL, but the Steelers aren’t counting on superstar production out of him either. Our updated ranking of the remaining free agent defensive tackles had Alualu towards the back of the top 15. It’s not clear if the Jaguars had any real interest in re-signing him, which says something about where he is at this stage of his career.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Meeting With DL Tyson Alualu

Tyson Alualu is visiting with the Steelers, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Jaguars free agent defensive lineman will touch down in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon. Tyson Alualu (vertical)

Our most recent rundown of free agent defensive tackles had Alualu in the top 15, but only by a thread. Despite spending his entire career with the Jaguars, Alualu was on the Jags’ roster bubble heading into the 2016 season. This year, the Jaguars let him test free agency without much of a battle to keep him and it’s not clear if they have interest in re-signing him at this juncture.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

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:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

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.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

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).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

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.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

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.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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FA Rumors: Pats, Jefferson, Jags, Falcons

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.
  • Speaking of the Jaguars, the club is expected to let Tyson Alualu hit the open market, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes.
  • 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 CardinalsTony 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.
  • D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Falcons, who are moving towards an extension for Desmond Trufant, want to re-sign tight end Levine Toilolo, safety/linebacker Kemal Ishmael, and fullback Patrick DiMarco before free agency opens. The team is expected to let Jacob Tamme hit free agency and to wait until after the draft to make a decision on Dwight Freeney. Atlanta is also waiting to hear back from guard Chris Chester, who is contemplating retirement.
  • The Falcons plan to upgrade their defensive front in free agency and the draft, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. The club is expected to re-sign Courtney Upshaw, and McClure names Cowboys’ DT Terrell McClain as one potential target for Atlanta.
  • 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.

AFC Notes: T-Rich, Manziel, Dolphins

Trent Richardson may be down to his last chance to continue his NFL career, and he may be firmly on the Ravens‘ roster bubble, but one still has to give him credit for dreaming big. In an interview with Comcast SportsNet, Richardson said he would end his NFL story by “Putting on a yellow jacket. People wrote him off, he came back and did some amazing things. He always had the pedigree. He just had to get back to the guy that we know” (link via Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com). T-Rich, the former No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft, has a career average of just 3.3 yards per carry, and he has struggled with injuries and weight throughout the course of his once-promising career. Just 25, Richardson realizes there will probably not be another opportunity for him if he fails to make Baltimore’s roster, but as he fights to carve out a place for himself on the Ravens–who are well-stocked at the running back position–a little self-confidence can’t hurt.

Now for a few more links from the AFC:

  • Johnny Manziel‘s attorney, Jim Darnell, says his client is preparing as though he will play in the NFL in 2016, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Per Fowler, Darnell concedes that a return to the league in 2017 is more realistic, but it would take a confluence of positive outcomes for even that to happen. Manziel’s pending assault charge, for which he has a status hearing on June 24, would have to be resolved in his favor, he would have to weather whatever punishments the league levies upon him, and he would have to find a team willing to gamble on him and his fledgling football abilities.
  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the NFL has not yet contacted Dolphins rookie left tackle Laremy Tunsil about the now-infamous bong video that precipitated Tunsil’s fall in April’s draft. As Florio notes, however, the league could come calling any day.
  • The top of the Dolphins‘ wide receiver depth chart is largely settled, but there is some intrigue among a few of the less-heralded players on the roster, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. Barring injury, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Leonte Carroo will be the club’s top four wideouts, but rookie Jakeem Grant, despite being a raw route-runner, has flashed in OTAs, and players like Griff Whalen and Matt Hazel also have their supporters among the Dolphins’ coaching staff.
  • New Jets left tackle Ryan Clady still has a chip on his shoulder as a result of the unceremonious end to his tenure with the Broncos several months ago, and he is determined to prove he is still the same player he was during his peak years in Denver, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes.
  • Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida-Times Union takes a look at six returning Jaguars who could be on the roster bubble, a list headlined by Tyson Alualu and Dwayne Gratz.

Jaguars Re-Sign Tyson Alualu

SUNDAY: The deal is now official, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

SATURDAY: The Jaguars and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu have agreed on a two-year deal that will keep Alualu in Jacksonville through 2016, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter).

Alualu’s deal will be worth $6MM, with $4.25MM guaranteed, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Alualu was the first-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was considered to be a reach at 10th overall at the time of the pick, and has been underwhelming at best during his tenure with the team.

AFC Notes: Chiefs, Raiders, Jaguars

Having officially made the decision today to use their non-exclusive franchise tag on Justin Houston, the Chiefs will be back over the projected cap for 2015 until they make some more cuts or restructure some contracts. Still, that doesn’t mean the team won’t be able to eke out some cap room to potentially make some moves in free agency, as chairman Clark Hunt said this weekend (link via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star).

“We always want to be a smart player in free agency,” Hunt said. “We want to sign guys that can be here and make a contribution, not necessarily (sign) somebody just because he makes a splash. … We also pay a lot of attention to the salary cap because you … can spend whatever you want and circumvent the cap, but every one of those dollars eventually comes back and hits you on the cap. So when we look at the salary cap, I’m not just looking at 2015, I’m thinking about 2016, 2017. So those decisions are made in that context.”

Let’s round up a few more items from around the AFC….

  • Teams like the Raiders and Jaguars will have to spend over the next two years to reach the NFL’s minimum requirement of 89% of the cap over a four-year period, and both clubs have the cap space to make a splash in free agency this month. However, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) points out that both teams have starting quarterbacks eligible for extensions after the 2016 season, so if Blake Bortles and Derek Carr develop as expected, the Raiders and Jags could extend them prior to the 2017 league year as a means of reaching that 89% threshold. In other words, there’s no urgency to reach that minimum threshold immediately.
  • In another video for Bleacher Report, Cole weighs in on Percy Harvin, reiterating what we’ve heard as of late: the Jets receiver appears open to restructuring his deal, but not to taking a pay cut. Harvin is confident that he’ll do fairly well on the open market, and it looks like that’s where he’ll end up, since the Jets are very unlikely to keep him at his current price.
  • The Jaguars have yet to decide whether or not to tender contract offers to any of their players eligible for restricted free agency, tweets Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. The club has been in touch with UFAs Tyson Alualu and J.T. Thomas though.