NFL News & Analysis

August 4 Training Camp Notes: Steelers extend WR Diontae Johnson, Rams QB Matthew Stafford's elbow discomfort and more

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) participates in minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers sign WR Diontae Johnson to extension

  • It’s a two-year, $36.71 million extension that includes $27 million in total guarantees.
  • Both sides appeared to be far apart in negotiations early in the process, so they settled on a shorter-term deal with a lower average annual avenue. This gives Johnson some immediate financial security and the ability to get back to the negotiating table by 2024 while Pittsburgh gets a Johnson at a lower rate than some other top receivers signed for this offseason.
  • A third-round pick in 2019, Johnson recorded career-highs in targets (161), catches (107), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (8) last season. He earned a 74.6 receiving grade, also a career-high.

Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford dealing with “bad” elbow tendinitis

  • Stafford has been dealing with “elbow discomfort” in his throwing arm and did not participate in the team’s offseason workout programs. He eventually needed an anti-inflammatory injection, and the team plans to slowly ease him back in.
  • “Don’t expect him to do anything in these team settings for this block or the next three days, next week,” head coach Sean McVay said. “Nothing has changed. Consistent with what I had told you guys last week. This is part of the plan that we feel is in his best interest. … That’s the plan we think is best right now.”
  • Stafford isn’t being completely shut down, which is obviously a positive. Nonetheless, the situation bears watching as the season gets closer. Stafford has dealt with an array of injuries throughout his career, but he usually guts it out and plays through the pain.
  • The Rams extended him on a four-year, $160 million extension this offseason after he led them to a Super Bowl victory in 2021.

NFL appoints former NJ Attorney General Peter Harvey to hear Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson‘s appeal

  • Under the collective bargaining agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the option to hear the appeal himself, but he opted to go with a designee.
  • The NFL is seeking a harsher penalty than six games, and the expectation is they’ll appeal for a one-year suspension along with a fine and/or treatment. 
  • The appeal will be processed on an expedited basis and will be based on a “review of the existing record,” meaning no new evidence or testimony will be permitted. The findings must be based on Judge Sue L. Robinson’s 15-page report and nothing else.
  • Harvey has a strong relationship with the NFL and has also served as Goodell's designee in other arbitrations. Also, it’s important to note that he is not jointly hired by the NFL and NFLPA, as Judge Robinson was. So there’s a strong chance Harvey will likely side with the league. 
  • The NFLPA would likely sue and try to take this to federal court if there is an increase in suspension. The possibility of both sides reaching a settlement agreement and avoiding a dragged-out process is also still a possibility.

Arizona Cardinals activate Maxx Williams from PUP list

  • Williams recorded 16 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown in five games last season before going down with a torn ACL. He earned a 77.9 PFF grade and a 77.6 receiving grade.
  • He re-signed with the team this offseason on a one-year contract.
  • Williams has excelled in run-blocking. His 83.8 PFF run-blocking grade since joining the Cardinals in 2019 ranks first among all tight ends.
  • The Cardinals re-signed Zach Ertz to a three-year, $31.6 million contract this offseason and also used a second-round pick on Colorado State tight end Trey McBride.

New Orleans Saints sign LB Kiko Alonso

  • Alonso was one of several veteran linebackers to work out for New Orleans today, including Anthony Hitchens and Jon Bostic.
  • He last played in 2019 with the Saints and earned a 70.0 PFF grade. He appeared in 13 games that season, so he has some familiarity with Dennis Allen, who was the defensive coordinator at the time and is now the team’s head coach.
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