The 2017 NFL regular season has now come to a close, with several former Ohio State players having booked tickets into the playoffs, and others finishing the year on a high note. Before the final whistle of the regular season, one Buckeye landed a new contract, a second-year receiver out of Ohio State continued to set records, and a host of Buckeyes are vying for new contracts heading into the offseason.
Here’s a look at how Buckeyes in the NFL fared in the Week 17 season finale.
Buckeyes heading to the NFL playoffs
The New England Patriots (Nate Ebner [IR]) finished as the first seed in the AFC, with the Pittsburgh Steelers (Cam Heyward, Ryan Shazier [IR]) claiming the second seed. For the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles (Malcolm Jenkins) wrapped up the No. 1 spot, with the Minnesota Vikings (Pat Elflein) claiming the second seed. These four teams also earned first-round byes and won’t play again until Jan. 13-14, when they’ll face the winners of the Wild Card round.
There will be eight teams vying for a spot in the divisional round of the playoffs on Jan. 6-7. For the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills (Adolphus Washington), Jacksonville Jaguars (Michael Bennett [IR]), and Kansas City Chiefs are still in the hunt. And, for the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers (Kurt Coleman, Andrew Norwell, Curtis Samuel [IR]), Los Angeles Rams (Jake McQuaide), and New Orleans Saints (Vonn Bell, Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas) are still in it.
Thomas sets yet another record
Two weeks after passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season, former Buckeye and current New Orleans wideout Michael Thomas claimed additional accolades to round out the season. With his six receptions (for 94 yards) on Sunday against the Buccaneers, Thomas set the record for receptions in a single season (104) — becoming the first player in Saints history to pass 100 in a given year. With 104 nabs to add to his 92 catches from his rookie season, he’s had more receptions in his first two seasons than anyone else in NFL history.
Linsley scores new contract with Green Bay
Center Corey Linsley was one of many former Ohio State players heading into the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. As one of the most reliable stars for the Packers’ offense — especially with the injuries at quarterback — and the team didn’t want to risk letting the Buckeye hit the free agent market in a of couple months.
Instead, early in the week, Green Bay signed Linsley to a three-year contract extension, including $25.5 million in new money, for about $8.5 million per year. This should be good news for the host of other Ohio State alumni looking for new contracts in the offseason. Seven Buckeyes will head into 2018 as unrestricted free agents, although I would expect several to get new deals with their current squads (Andrew Norwell, Carlos Hyde, Jack Mewhort and Jake McQuaide).
2018 Buckeye free agents
Plays of the Week
El Guapo was back in full force, and finished his season on a strong note heading into a contract offseason. He had 15 carries for 90 yards on Sunday, along with a pair of touchdowns in the Niners fifth win in a row. It was a tough start the year, but Carlos Hyde has always been a reliable work horse for the offense — who until they got Jimmy Garoppolo, was more than a bit lacking in the QB department.
The Buckeye running back did have a fumble on the day, but heading into an offseason in which he’ll be looking for a new contract, he at least left the Niners (and other teams) with a good impression. Being able to barrel through defenders has always been a strong suit of Hyde’s, and with finally some consistency at head coach for San Francisco — and Hyde — he could be staying on the West Coast for the next several years.
- In his second game back, running back Ezekiel Elliott seems to have caught his footing, and rushed for 103 yards, with an additional 38 receiving. His return from a six-game suspension proved that he didn’t miss a step and gave him some motivation heading into the off-season.
- Two Buckeyes finished the 2017 NFL season adding sacks to their resume, Vonn Bell had 10 total tackles and one sack in Week 17, while Joey Bosa notched five total tackles and a sack — capping off his career-high season of 12.5 sacks.
Injury Report and Inactives
- With the postseason in the picture for some teams, and others no longer in the hunt, several injured Buckeyes sat out in Week 17, including Kurt Coleman (ankle), Pat Elflein (shoulder), Johnathan Hankins (ankle), Rod Smith (back), and Nick Vannett (back).
- Listed as inactive, not due to injury, but to allow a little rest before the playoffs, the Steelers decided to sit Cameron Heyward. Likewise, the Eagles rested safety Malcolm Jenkins, who despite being active, didn’t see any snaps on Sunday.
- Finishing out the season the way that he’s spent most of the season in SoCal, quarterback Cardale Jones was once again a healthy scratch for the Chargers.
- Finally, this marks the last week of newsworthy drama from the New York Giants and Eli Apple. The Cornerback out of Ohio State was suspended for the season finale, with the team citing, “conduct detrimental to the team.” Things have not been going well between the team and player, and will be an interesting offseason to see how things play out with his future on the field.