Thursday was just another day in the soap opera that is the Pittsburgh Steelers. After a year of speculation centering around RB Le’Veon Bell, it is WR Antonio Brown who has claimed the lead role. On Thursday, Steelers owner Art Rooney II had some scathing words for Brown, making it clear the team is ready to move on from the best receiver in franchise history after he quit on his team. Rooney said it was “hard to envision” Brown back in Pittsburgh in 2019 and the team was willing to explore dealing him, though he did admit they would not go as far as releasing Brown.
Brown has reportedly ignored and refused to return phone multiple phone calls from Rooney and Steelers HC Mike Tomlin and the two sides have not spoken since Week 17 when he was deactivated following multiple missed practices and little to no communication.
Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, meaning that date will essentially serve as a deadline for the Steelers to get Brown off their roster if that is ultimately what they decide is best. Rooney made it clear that Brown’s $21.2 million cap hit will not factor into any decision. This is about more than money for the Steelers.
Josh Rosen Trade Rumors
Following the Wednesday report that Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy-winning QB Kyler Murray would opt to enter the NFL Draft rather than join the Oakland A’s, who drafted him in the first round last summer, many dots began to be connected. A video clip of new Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury made the rounds in which the former Texas Tech head man praised Murray and suggested he should be the top overall NFL Draft pick. This led to some speculation that Kingsbury and the Cardinals could deal last year’s first-round pick, QB Josh Rosen, and use their top spot on Murray. This suggestion was later flatly denied by Arizona brass as Kingsbury called Rosen “an extremely talented thrower.”
Bengals Want Taylor
The Cincinnati Bengals have apparently made their decision as to their next head coach and now they must wait. The team plans to fill the vacancy with Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor, though the move won’t be official until Taylor and the Rams are done for the season. Taylor has ties to the city, serving as the OC for the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016 between assistant coaching stints with the Dolphins and Rams.
Fournette Clears the Air
Jacksonville Jaguars officials and RB Leonard Fournette met to discuss the disappointing and controversial end of the season. Jaguars EVP Tom Coughlin criticized Fournette for seeming disinterested in the team’s finale and it was then reported that the team had nixed some of Fournette’s guaranteed money, paving the way for the team to cut or trade Fournette. The meeting reportedly went well and “things are headed in the right direction.”
Former Browns DC and interim HC Gregg Williams as well as former Colts HC Chuck Pagano are both reportedly candidates for the Jets DC job under new HC Adam Gase. ... Pagano also got an interview with the Panthers, although HC Ron Rivera confirmed he would be calling the plays on the defensive side of the ball. ... Finally, Pagano is evidently a top target for the Bears, who are replacing their departed DC Vic Fangio, the new head coach of the Denver Broncos. ...Former Denver HC Vance Joseph interviewed for the DC position in Arizona…The Browns have interest in former Buccaneers OC Todd Monken to fill the same role for them, though they’ll have to compete with the Jaguars for his services. ... The Cardinals are reportedly interested in former Giants HC Ben McAdoo to coach the offense. ... Cleveland will interview former Denver HC Vance Joseph for their open DC job. ... The Cardinals interviewed former Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian for the same role, who is also getting interest from the Lions. Along with Monken, the Browns are also showing interest in former Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter for their OC role.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) remained sidelined from practice. This seems to be the plan for Hilton but it hasn’t stopped him from playing and playing well in recent weeks. He’s expected to be a full go this week against the Chiefs and was not even on the injury report. ... Cowboys WR Cole Beasley (ankle) did not practice yet again on Thursday. He’s missed the entire week so far and will likely be a game-time decision. Dallas already lost WR Allen Hurns, making a thin depth chart even thinner. ... The Cowboys could also be without TE Blake Jarwin, who has missed each practice this week. Jarwin is dealing with an ankle injury as well. Look for rookie TE Dalton Schultz to fill in, if needed. ... Kansas City DB Eric Berry (heel) missed another practice and is expected to miss Saturday’s game. ... Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins hasn’t played in weeks but he has now practiced three days in a row, which is a good sign for his availability against the Colts this weekend. Watkins has been out of the lineup with a worrisome and recurring foot injury. ... The Colts ruled out WR Ryan Grant (toe). ... Chargers RB Melvin Gordon (knee) was able to practice Thursday. ... Rams RB Todd Gurley (knee) was removed from the injury report and is set to make his return to the field this weekend after missing the final two games of the regular season. ... Chiefs RB Spencer Ware (hamstring) drew a questionable tag for this weekend’s game against the Colts. Ware missed the final three games as RB Damien Williams staked his claim to the KC backfield.