Steelers sign Pouncey and Foster
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers made a significant investment in protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, signing Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and left guard Ramon Foster to new deals Thursday.
Foster was set to become a free agent when the new NFL year begins next week but that’s off the table after the 10-year veteran agreed to a two-year deal that will pay him $8.25 million and lets him stay with the club he’s made 131 starts for since 2009.
Pouncey was entering the final year of the $44 million deal he signed in 2014. The contract he signed Thursday runs through 2021 and will pay him $11 million in 2020 and 2021. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Pouncey has served as the anchor for the offensive line in front of Roethlisberger since 2010.
The signings also clear the way for Pittsburgh to move forward with a new contract for Roethlisberger. The 37-year-old is about to enter the final season of a contract extension he signed in 2015 and the two-time Super Bowl winner believes he can play several more seasons. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said at the combine last week the team has begun talking to Roethlisberger about a new deal that would likely run through 2021.
Roethlisberger has long maintained he plays behind one of the best lines in the league. He’s been sacked 24 times or less in each of the last four seasons and he led the NFL and set a franchise record in 2018 when he passed for 5,129 yards. His 34 passing touchdowns were also a new franchise mark.
Kevin Johnson to visit Browns
CLEVELAND — Free agent cornerback Kevin Johnson is scheduled to meet with the Browns, a person familiar with the visit confirmed to The Associated Press.
Johnson, who was released this week by the Houston Texans, is scheduled to be at the team’s headquarters later this week, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not confirming visits.
The 26-year-old Johnson met with Buffalo on Wednesday.
Johnson only played in Houston’s opener last season before he was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a second concussion. Injures have limited him to just 19 games over the past three seasons.
The Texans selected Johnson with the No. 16 overall pick in 2015. They released him to avoid paying his $9 million salary for 2019.
The Browns want to add depth to their defensive backfield and find a player to pair with Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward.
Longtime golf coach set to retire
KENT — Longtime Kent State golf coach Herb Page will retire at the end of this season and end his storied run at the school.
Page has coached the Golden Flashes since 1977, building the men’s golf program into one of the nation’s most consistent and decorated. Under Page, Kent State has won 22 Mid-American Conference titles, appeared in 17 NCAA championships and he’s had 28 All-Americans, including Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion.
“I feel Herb is the best coach in America,” Curtis said. “The record shows that, but the support he provides to all former players is phenomenal, no matter what the player moves onto after graduation. I would not have had the success that I’ve had without his coaching, guidance, support and friendship.”
Page was also instrumental in launching Kent State’s women’s golf program in 1998. The Golden Flashes have won 20 straight MAC titles. He’s been the conference’s top coach 23 times.
“Kent State means so much to me,” said Page, who played three sports at the school in the early 1970s. “I am forever grateful to the university and all of the administrators, staff and student-athletes I have had the privilege of coaching, who made our golf program so successful. This is my alma mater and the Kent community has been my home ever since.
“But most of all, I am indebted to the wonderful student-athletes I have worked with. It is humbling to reflect on all that they have achieved over the past 41 years and the amazing memories that we have made together.”