AFC Notes: Jets, Patriots, Steelers


  • Ralph Vacchiano says that the Jets must have confidence in young cornerbacks Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin, adding that there will be a steep learning curve for both players as the team has two fifth-round picks behind them in Jason Pinnock and Michael Carter II.
  • Vacchiano also wonders if TE Christopher Herndon is ready to emerge for the Jets, as they have only added TE Tyler Kroft this offseason.
  • Brian Costello of the New York Post expects the Jets to use S Marcus Maye more in the strong safety role in 2021 while free-agent signing Lamarcus Joyner plays free safety. 
  • ESPN’s Rich Cimini thinks Jets’ first-round QB Zach Wilson hasn’t signed yet because the two sides are haggling over offset language. The Jets typically require offsets in their rookie contracts, which deduct a player’s next contract from the team’s financial obligations should they release a player. However, Jaguars’ first-round QB Trevor Lawrence, drafted one pick before Wilson has no offsets in his deal. 
  • Cimini writes the considerable gap in negotiations between the Jets and Maye raises questions about his long-term future in New York, as if he has another strong season, there’s no reason for him not to test free agency. 
  • He adds part of the holdup from the Jets’ side of things is they wanted to see how he fit into HC Robert Saleh‘s new defensive scheme. 


  • ESPN’s Mike Reiss says the Patriots aren’t divulging their vaccination rates but the sense he gets is they are within striking distance of 85 percent, if not already past it. 
  • Former Patriots S Patrick Chung told Reiss he still thinks HC Bill Belichick is maintaining the team’s culture even without Tom Brady: “Bill is going to make sure that culture stays the same. That’s how Bill is. Regardless of who’s there, who’s not there, he’s going to make sure those players are ready to go and compete.”


  • ESPN’s Brooke Pryor comments on the Steelers’ depth chart, noting that C J.C. Hassenauer is listed as the starting center, but third-round C Kendrick Green has been getting most of the first-team reps.
  • Pryor also notes Steelers DB Antoine Brooks is also listed as the starting nickel with CB Arthur Maulet listed as the backup.
  • Pro Football Talk notes the depth chart lists QB Mason Rudolph as the backup, Dwayne Haskins at No. 3, and Joshua Dobbs as No. 4.
  • Brooks left practice early on Sunday but HC Mike Tomlin did not characterize his injury as serious. Hassenauer left Saturday’s practice and is day-to-day with an apparent knee/leg injury. (Pryor)
  • Steelers DC Teryl Austin says Plan A is to put Brooks at nickel and CB Cameron Sutton outside. However, if either James Pierre or Justin Layne show themselves capable, Austin didn’t rule out moving Sutton inside in nickel packages. (Mark Kaboly)
  • New Steelers OLB Melvin Ingram feels young again despite losing his last season with the Chargers due to injury: “I feel like I’m 18. I feel like a kid. I still have a lot left in me.” (Ray Fittipaldo)
  • Ingram says that injury is just part of the sport and adds that he feels great: “I love football. My body feels great. I had an injury last year, but that’s part of the game. It’s a physical sport. Right now I’m 100…200% healthy.” (Fittipaldo)

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