Steelers extend Gilbert thru 2019 with big contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a total of $74 million on contract extensions for former Florida Gators offensive linemen this summer after signing offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year extension on Tuesday.

Gilbert’s extension is worth $30 million, according to ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, making his new six-year deal worth a maximum of $31 million as he will be paid $1.03 million during the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. The portion of his contract that is fully guaranteed is information that was not available as of press time.

“It means I am locked in hopefully as a Steeler for the rest of my career,” said Gilbert in a team press release. “It’s a blessing to work for a great organization, the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert and Coach [Mike] Tomlin. Just to be around in Pittsburgh, where they show you so much love, I couldn’t be happier and in a better place.”

Just over two months ago on June 12, the Steelers locked up center Maurkice Pouncey with a similar five-year, $44 million extension, including $13 million in fully-guaranteed money. The extension, which put his new contract at six years and up to $48 million, made him the highest-paid center in the NFL.

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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 35 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the second week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR Deonte Thompson: Target; three kickoff returns for 188 yards, touchdown (108-yard return)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

The 2014 NFL preseason kicked off with 45 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 37 players that saw action along with select updates on a number of Gators during the first week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DB JAYLEN WATKINS*, Philadelphia Eagles: Two solo tackles, interception (one yard), pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Steelers make Pouncey highest-paid center

The Pittsburgh Steelers and former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey came to terms Thursday on a five-year, $44 million contract extension that includes $13 million in fully guaranteed money, making Pouncey the highest-paid center in the NFL.

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio first reported Pouncey’s signing, noting that the five-year extension locks him up with the Steelers for six years at a maximum earning potential of $48 million.

Pouncey will make $14 million in 2014, adding a large portion of the signing bonus to the $3.8 million he was set to earn in the final year of his already-existing deal. He’ll also pocket nearly $27 million through March 2017.

The No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey earned a Pro Bowl nod and was named an All-Pro from 2010-12, making him the first center in NFL history to receive either honor in each of the first three seasons.

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Browns ink CB Haden to big contract thru 2019

The Cleveland Browns and former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden came to terms Tuesday on a five-year, $68 million contract extension that includes $45 million in guaranteed money, one of the richest deals in the league for a player at his position.

ProFootballTalk.com first reported Haden’s signing, while ESPN’s Adam Schefter released the terms of the extension. The former notes that the $14 million signing bonus, $22 million fully guaranteed at signing and $23 million guaranteed for injury “all surpass the deal that Richard Sherman just signed with Seattle.”

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden has spent his entire career with Cleveland. He will also earn $8.9 million in the final year of his rookie contract in 2014.

Haden played in 57 games over his first four seasons, missing four games in 2012 after being suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances after testing positive for Adderall in the offseason.

Haden has racked up 13 interceptions, three forced fumbles and 67 pass defenses in his career, scoring his first career interception return touchdown last season.

He also was named to his first Pro Bowl last year.

Haden has adopted the city as his own and become a fan favorite. He is often seen at Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games and other sporting events supporting a variety of local teams, charitable efforts and youth activities.

At just 25 years old and the star of the Browns’ defense, he could certainly play out his extension in Cleveland. The Browns even picked CB Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft to take some pressure off Haden in the secondary.

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Florida Gators compete in Pro Bowl, Senior Bowl

Four former Florida Gators participated in all-star games over the weekend with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey headlining as participants in the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI on Sunday evening.

The 21st and 22nd former Gators to be picked for the Pro Bowl, both played in the game for the first time in their respective careers.

Haden was the sixth player drafted and played for Team (Jerry) Rice. He intercepted quarterback Cam Newton and also registered one solo tackle and one pass defense.

Pouncey was the first center selected but did not start for Team (Deion) Sanders. He did see plenty of action throughout the game, however.

On Saturday, guard Jon Halapio and wide receiver Solomon Patton participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl at Land-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL.

Halapio started at right guard for the South, but Patton saw limited action in the contest. He was targeted only once in the game but did not catch a pass. Patton did his most work as a returner, bringing back a kickoff for 27 yards and a punt for 15 yards.

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins, OnlyGators.com’s 2014 Path to the Draft blogger, suffered an Achilles injury Wednesday and was unable to compete on Saturday. He is expected to be able to participate in all upcoming pre-draft events.

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Quinn, Pro Bowl, Harvin

1 » Joining a bevy of national analysts to come to the defenses of Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who has missed nine games this spring without receiving clearance or any information as to when a decision ill be reached on his eligibility by the NCAA, is ESPN‘s Jay Bilas. On Wednesday, Bilas sent the following tweet: “Dear NCAA: Chris Walker and Florida have waited long enough. The DMV now believes you are slow and inefficient.” He expanded on that thought Thursday in a conversation with Florida Today. “One, I don’t think it’s any of the NCAA’s business,” Bilas said. “But even if it is, it’s taken way too long. At some point you have to say, ‘You know what? We don’t have it. And until we do, the kid can play.’ They’ve got a clock ticking and the NCAA kind of tends to look at from their own perspective in that, we don’t want somebody else to run out the clock while we investigate. … At some point you’ve got to say, you know what the delay is unreasonable. It’s hurt the kid, it’s hurt the school and it’s just wrong.”

2 » Due to the Seattle Seahawks remaining in contention throughout the 2013-14 NFL Playoffs and ultimately earning a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII, former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been unavailable for head coaching job interviews despite the fact that three teams – Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland – reportedly had him as a frontrunner for their vacancies. Quinn told the media Thursday that he is not frustrated about the situation because it ultimately means his team has the chance to play for a title. “None. No, certainly not,” he said. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of this and moving forward here keeping the focus on our team, which it is.” Quinn had never even held a coordinator job until Gators head coach Will Muschamp hired him in 2011. After just four seasons (assuming he remains in his current position with Seattle in 2014), his dream of leading a team could finally come true next offseason.

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
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