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NFL Notes: Rule Change, Lions, Panthers, Steelers

Rule Change

  • Mark Maske reports that the competition committee is proposing a resolution that would allow assistant coaches on teams that are still in the playoffs to reach deals to be another team’s head coach.

Lions

Panthers

Panthers HC Ron Rivera explained that their decision to trade DE Kony Ealy to move up eight spots in next year’s draft was due in part to the fact that they were unlikely to be able to afford him next year and they wanted to get something for him.

If Kony were continue to grow, which we think he’s going to, we wouldn’t be able to afford him,” Rivera told Judy Battista of NFL Media. “We thought now was as good a time to get something from him. We lost Josh Norman a year ago to free agency and got nothing out of it. So, the thought process being here’s a guy who, if he ascends like he has the potential to, he has a chance to be a guy that’s going to get a big payday and I think looking forward that would have been a tough situation for us.

If Rivera is correct in that Ealy is set to produce a decent season in the final year of his contract, it’s surprising to see the Panthers take a deal that allows them to improve their pick by eight spots as opposed to recouping a compensatory pick in 2019.

Earlier in the week, Panthers GM Dave Gettleman mentioned that while it may not seem like a lot in return for a young, affordable pass rusher, he considers the eight spots they improved their pick to be “gold.”

Steelers

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin mentioned during an interview on the NFL Network that they’re proceeding as if Ben Roethlisberger will return for the 2017 season, despite him indicating that he was weighing retirement a few months ago.

Even so, Tomlin admitted that they’ve done some due diligence on quarterbacks, given that there’s no telling how much longer they’ll have Big Ben.

“I think we’ve been in that mindset for the last several years, that’s what this business tells us to be in,” Tomlin said. “We better start sharpening our sword in terms of evaluation of quarterbacks and what’s available to us or potentially available to us, that’s just due diligence. So yes, we have.

“I think because of (Roethlisberger’s) durability and how he plays, I don’t know that we have that level of urgency, but we are talking ourselves mentally through the process. Not an easy one, obviously, but it is what it is. It’s an element of the business. Guys can’t play forever and he acknowledges that and we acknowledge that.”

  • Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told reporters on Sunday that none of their free agent signings will impact what they do in this year’s draft: “It’s wide open at this point.” (Gerry Dulac)
  • According to Colbert, there’s currently no timetable for RB Le’Veon Bell‘s return from offseason surgery. “Our goal is to have him 100 percent for the 2017 season.”  (Gerry Dulac)
  • In regards to them pursuing free agent LB Dont’a Hightower this offseason, Colbert said: “We made an attempt, it didn’t work, we’re fine. We move on. We’re very confident in Vince (Williams).” (Gerry Dulac)