Steelers Rumors

NFL Supplemental Draft Order

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:

1. Lions
2. Broncos
3. Jets
4. Cardinals
5. Giants
6. Bills
7. Raiders
8. 49ers
9. Jaguars
10. Packers
11. Bengals
12. Bucs
13. Falcons
14. Vikings
15. Redskins
16. Titans
17. Dolphins
18. Steelers
19. Panthers
20. Browns
21. Ravens
22. Patriots
23.Cowboys
24. Seahawks
25. Eagles
26. Texans
27. Bears
28. Colts
29. Saints
30. Chiefs
31. Chargers
32. Rams

The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.

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Feiler Isn't A Lock To Start For Steelers?

  • Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers‘ longtime right tackle, was traded to the Cardinals this spring. That means the Steelers will have a new right tackle, and most have assumed it’ll be Matt Feiler. Feiler filled in for an injured Gilbert, and ended up starting ten games last year. But while he’s the favorite, Feiler isn’t taking it for granted and is insisting it’ll be an open competition. “I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler said earlier this offseason, per Mike Prisuta of the team’s official site. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.” “It’s up for grabs,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough battle.” While the comments are interesting and suggest we may have to pay attention to the position in camp, it would still be a surprise if Feiler isn’t starting Week 1. While he took the majority of first-team reps, Prisuta does note that he rotated some with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor during spring work. Feiler is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Bloomsburg University, who had only started one game before last year.

Latest On Ryan Shazier's Recovery

  • David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the relationship between Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his high school teammate, trainer, and close friend, Jerome Howard. Howard has been with Shazier throughout his recovery and has assisted him in his efforts to get back to the playing field. The piece is well-worth a read, especially for Steelers fans, as it also details the remarkable progress that Shazier has made. A return to football is still a long way off, but he has already overcome tremendous odds just to be walking again, let alone exercising the way he is.

Steelers K Chris Boswell On Roster Bubble

Chris Boswell has spent the past four seasons with the Steelers, but his tenure in Pittsburgh could be coming to an end. In his 53-man roster predictions, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that the veteran kicker isn’t a shoo-in to make the team.

The 2014 undrafted free agent out of Rice had stops with the Texans and Giants before joining the Steelers in 2015. Boswell quickly became a mainstay of the Steelers’ special teams unit, appearing in 58 regular season games over the past four years. The 28-year-old was more-than-solid during his first three years with Pittsburgh, including a 2017 campaign where he earned a Pro Bowl nod.

However, Boswell struggled mightily in 2018. The kicker connected on only 65-percent of his field goal attempts, and he also converted a subpar 89.6-percent of his extra point chances. The front office reworked Boswell’s contract back in May, delaying his $2MM bonus until after the club’s final preseason game (the kicker was originally set to collect the bonus in March). This buys the Steelers some extra time as they evaluate the position, while Boswell gets a chance at redemption.

If the Steelers do decide to move on from Boswell, the team could turn to Central Florida rookie Matthew Wright. However, Kaboly says it’s more likely that the team pursues whichever free agent is cut loose during the preseason.

While there are question marks surrounding the Steelers’ kicker, the rest of their special teams unit seems set. Kaboly writes that punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday are “secure.”

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This Date In Transactions History: Steelers’ Shaun Suisham Retires

Three years ago today, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham was forced to hang ’em up. Once one of the league’s most accurate kickers, Suisham suffered a setback in his recovery from an ACL tear and did not feel that he could return to his previous form. 

From 2012-2014, Suisham sank 91.6% of his field goal tries. But, in the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Suisham went down with a serious knee injury, costing him the entire season.

My journey in the NFL has come to a crossroads,” Suisham said in a statement. “I was raised in Wallaceburg, Ontario, as a hockey player and have been on an improbable 16-year journey as a kicker, competing at the highest level. The absolute nature of my position has given me the opportunity to test my resolve, and I have grown both professionally and as a man. Undoubtedly, I will miss the challenge of game day and the preparation that is required. Change is hard, but I’m comfortable with where I am in life as a husband and father.”

While Suisham was out, a young kicker by the name of Chris Boswell stepped up and proved to be just as precise. In his first NFL season, Boswell made 90.6% of his field goals, including both of his attempts from 50+ yards out. The Steelers were hoping to give Suisham the opportunity to regain his job, but the battle was over before it could really heat up.

This offseason, the Steelers could be on the verge of another kicking change. Despite a strong rookie season and a stellar 2017 that resulted in his first ever Pro Bowl nod, Boswell is on the bubble after posting a dismal 65% field goal percentage in 2018.

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Release Candidate: Artie Burns

The Steelers surprised their fair share of draft pundits when they selected Artie Burns in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, and Burns has not done much to prove his doubters wrong over his first three seasons in the league. His strongest season was his rookie campaign, when he notched three interceptions despite starting just nine games.

He could not build on that performance, though, and he struggled with coverage in 2017 and lost his starting job in 2018, appearing primarily on special teams in the second half of the season. Pittsburgh has not had great success in drafting quality corners in recent history, and as of right now, Burns looks like another example of those difficulties.

The Steelers’ decision to not exercise Burns’ 2020 option was something of a no-brainer, given that it would have been worth just shy of $10MM and would have been guaranteed for injury. And earlier this month, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic opined that the club may cut Burns before it’s required to pay him an $800K roster bonus on the first day of training camp.

However, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic suggested just a few days ago that if the Steelers haven’t cut Burns yet, they are likely to keep him around this year. Kaboly did note his belief that 2019 would be Burns’ last hurrah in Pittsburgh.

But just by looking at the financials, it would seem that Bouchette’s take on the situation may be more accurate. If the Steelers cut Burns prior to training camp, they would not only save the $800K roster bonus, but they would also create roughly $1.8MM of cap space. That is not an insignificant amount for Pittsburgh, which currently has just over $1MM of cap room. Although the team has wrapped up its 2019 draft class, it will certainly need to create more space at some point just to conduct regular business during the season, and their already small amount of space will become even smaller when the Rule of 51 is no longer applicable.

And while it may not seem wise to cut a young former first-rounder who plays a premium position just to save some cap space, the Steelers bolstered their CB corps with free agent Steven Nelson and third-round draft choice Justin Layne. The club is also higher on Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton than it is on Burns, and Joe Haden serves as the team’s No. 1 corner. So Burns is at best the sixth corner on the depth chart, which makes him a fringe player that could be cut at any time.

If he is still on the roster by the time he is due the $800K bonus, then the Steelers clearly will give him one more chance. But it would not be surprising to see him searching for a new team before training camp.

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Berhe Had Contact With Steelers

Nat Berhe had a disappointing season in Pittsburgh last year. The safety signed with the Steelers last April, was released at final cuts, and then re-signed before Week 1. He was a minor contributor on defense and special teams for a few weeks, before landing on injured reserve with a pec injury. Berhe remains a free agent now, and he recently told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that he had “some early contact” with the Steelers this offseason (Twitter link).

Berhe also told Fowler that he’s open to returning to the Steelers in 2019, but for now he’s “focused on adding size” before landing in a training camp. A San Diego State product, Berhe originally entered the league as a fifth round pick of the Giants back in 2014. He spent the first four years of his career in New York before signing a one-year, $790K deal with the Steelers. It’s not shocking that teams haven’t exactly been beating down his door to sign him.

Mike Hilton On Steelers Status

  • Two years after Alejandro Villanueva‘s situation, the Steelers have another ERFA who has been a regular contributor. Slot cornerback Mike Hilton has been vocal about wanting a long-term deal. He does not have much leverage, but his situation is different from Villanueva’s. The left tackle was late entering the NFL and was 29 when he lobbied for a new contract — what turned out to be a three-year, $24MM deal. Hilton is 25 and could bet on himself by playing for $645K. While he is voicing displeasure now, it doesn’t sound like the former UDFA is too upset with the Steelers. “I want to show the team I want to be here and want to be a part of this organization,” Hilton said, via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. “… As players, you feel like of course you want to earn more. Hopefully things work out in the long run, but if not, I’ll do my best to go out there and help this team win.”

Poll: Who Is Pats’ Top 2019 AFC Challenger?

Another summer featuring the Patriots preparing a title defense will bring PFR’s third version of this poll. The Patriots are only the third team to book Super Bowl berths in three straight years, joining the Dolphins from 1971-73 and Bills from 1990-93, and again Las Vegas tabs Bill Belichick‘s team as the favorite to win a championship.

In the past two AFC title games, the Pats skated to Super Bowls by razor-thin margins. Their 2019 passing attack features more questions than it has in maybe 13 years, dating back to the days before the arrivals of Randy Moss and later Rob Gronkowski. But until they are defeated, this century’s premier team will be the favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowls.

The top candidate to dethrone them last year may again fill that role, but the Chiefs have gone through a rather complex offseason. After another dismal defensive season, the Chiefs overhauled their pass rush. They ditched anchors Justin Houston and Dee Ford, along with DC Bob Sutton, in moving to Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 defense. But Frank Clark (35 sacks in four seasons), on a $20.8MM-per-year contract in a deal that cost the Chiefs their first-round pick, is Kansas City’s new edge bastion. It is not certain who will fill the role of K.C.’s No. 2 edge rusher, and high-end interior presence Chris Jones skipped minicamp.

This figures to be Patrick Mahomesfinal season on his rookie contract, amplifying the importance of 2019 for the Chiefs. A major AFC variable: the status of the reigning MVP’s top receiver. Tyreek Hill is facing a near-certain suspension, or possibly a Chiefs departure, depending on where the NFL’s investigation goes. So the three-time defending AFC West champions’ status is a bit murky at the moment.

Despite the 2018 Chargers winding up on the wrong end of a divisional-round rout in New England, they still possess one of the NFL’s best rosters. As such, the Bolts were relatively quiet in free agency — beyond their Thomas Davis signing. The Chargers still employ the key players responsible for 2018 top-10 rankings on offense and defense and are in line to have Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry healthy in Week 1. The Bolts still lack a comparable home-field advantage compared to their contender peers but compensated last year by going 8-0 outside of Los Angeles.

In returning nearly every starter from last season, the Colts (who have the fourth-best AFC title odds) carry a similar profile to the Bolts. Chris Ballard again resisted major free agency spending, despite his team holding more than $100MM in cap space entering March. Indianapolis did re-sign multiple starters and have a new T.Y. Hilton supporting cast in Devin Funchess, third-rounder Parris Campbell and 2018 draftee Deon Cain, who missed his rookie season. The Colts were No. 2 in weighted DVOA entering their second-round loss last season.

They of one winning season in the past 16, the Browns loaded up this year and hold Bovada’s third-best odds to win the AFC. Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Kareem Hunt stand to play pivotal roles in Cleveland’s pursuit of its first playoff berth since 2002, and John Dorsey‘s two-offseason overhaul has this roster in much better shape. The Browns do have some questions on their offensive line, and new HC Freddie Kitchens brings only a half-season’s worth of coordinator experience. But this certainly profiles as one of the most fascinating contenders in years.

Vegas predicts the Texans and Ravens will take steps back, after each underwent sweeping 2019 changes. And for the first time in several years, the Steelers (sixth-best odds in the AFC) hover off the top tier. Are oddsmakers sleeping on the perennial contenders? The Steelers made multiple moves (in adding Devin Bush, Steven Nelson and Mark Barron) to patch up their defense but lost arguably this era’s top receiver, whose $21.12MM dead-money number limited them this offseason.

Lastly, what surprise team will emerge? Will the Raiders’ spending spree translate to 2019 success? Will Nick Foles stabilize the Jaguars’ offense enough? Will the collectively rebuilding AFC East prevent another five- or six-win Patriots divisional stroll (and the likelihood of the Pats earning a bye in every season this decade)?

Click below to vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your AFC thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

'Slam Dunk' Moncrief Will Be Steelers' WR2?

  • The buzz about Donte Moncrief becoming Ben Roethlisberger‘s No. 2 target continues, with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (subscription required) calling it a “slam dunk” the former Colts and Jaguars wideout will be the Steelers’ WR2. It still figures to be a collaborative effort replacing one of this generation’s best players, Antonio Brown, but it looks like Moncrief’s offseason has him in position to lead that charge.
  • Artie Burns‘ standing in Pittsburgh is certainly not on the same level, and the Steelers face a decision on the underwhelming first-round cornerback. The team has until the third day of training camp to waive Burns and save $800K, but Kaboly notes that if the fourth-year corner has not yet been cut, the Steelers are probably planning to give him another shot. Regardless, Kaboly expects this to be Burns’ final year in Pittsburgh.