New York Giants

Schefter, Caplan On Suh, Bucs, Peterson, QBs

While most reporters continue to focus on the Super Bowl, which is now just three days away, NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan turn their attention to the offseason in a pair of stories for ESPN.com today, providing a handful of interesting tidbits about coaches, free agency, and the draft. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights from Schefter and Caplan….

  • Many of Schefter’s sources around the league don’t expect the Lions to assign the franchise tag to Ndamukong Suh, since the price ($26.87MM) would simply be too high for one player. Per Schefter, those who know Suh think that the idea of playing in a big market like New York, Chicago, or Dallas has always appealed to him. The Jets, Giants, Bears, and Cowboys could all certainly use a player like Suh, though you could say that about nearly every team in the NFL.
  • There’s a “real sense” that the Buccaneers have their sights set on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as the No. 1 pick in April, says Schefter, though he cautions that many NFL execs and scouts consider Jameis Winston the best QB prospect in the draft. We still have three months until draft night, so plenty can – and will – change in between now and then.
  • While the Vikings seem comfortable with the idea of bringing back Adrian Peterson, the veteran running back may not want to return to Minnesota. According to Schefter, at least six teams have already done background work on Peterson to prepare for the possibility that he becomes available.
  • Multiple executives told Caplan at the Senior Bowl that Washington‘s Kirk Cousins and Mike Glennon of the Buccaneers are viable trade candidates, especially for teams looking for stopgap starters for the 2015 season. One NFC team exec said he thought both Cousins and Glennon would be worth a fourth- or fifth-round pick in a trade.
  • Although former Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is coming off a successful season in Buffalo, he’s no lock to coach anywhere in 2015, says Caplan. We’ve heard all along that Schwartz will be patient when it comes to picking his next job, and Caplan notes that there’s still $6MM left on his deal with the Bills, which gives him the flexibility to take his time.
  • Caplan identifies six free-agents-to-be who may fly under the radar this offseason but could really help a team, including running back Roy Helu, linebacker Dan Skuta, and safety Jeron Johnson.

NFC Notes: Packers, Bears, Cruz, Falcons

As 2015’s Super Bowl Media Day rolls on, let’s round up a few Tuesday notes from across the NFC….

  • Only four of 11 Packers players who had per-game roster bonuses in their contracts failed to collect all their money, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, breaking down the players who did and didn’t receive their bonuses.
  • The Bears announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve reached an agreement with Clint Hurtt to become their outside linebackers coach. The fact that the team is distinguishing between outside and inside linebackers coaches now suggests a transition to a 3-4 defense under new DC Vic Fangio.
  • Victor Cruz‘s $8.125MM cap number will be the second-highest on the Giants‘ books in 2015, prompting Dan Graziano of ESPN.com to explore whether the team will need to address Cruz’s contract this offseason.
  • A pair of Falcons assistant coaches recently interviewed for other jobs, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com, who tweets that Glenn Thomas talked to the Browns about their quarterbacks coach position, while Gerald Brown met with the Raiders about their running backs coach job.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Mike Sando takes a detailed look at how the Seahawks built the team that’s looking for its second consecutive Super Bowl win this Sunday.
  • Seahawks defensive tackle Kevin Williams is happy with the choice he made in free agency last offseason, but considering he narrowed his options down to Seattle and New England, he admitted this week that he “couldn’t have gone wrong,” writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
  • Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News expects the Cowboys to target a pass rusher with their first-round pick this April, or at least to nab a defender if there are no ideal pass-rushing fits at No. 27.

NFC Mailbags: Panthers, Suh, Rodgers, Giants

We checked out ESPN.com’s AFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s now switch focus to the NFC…

  • David Newton still believes the Panthers could re-sign Byron Bell, even following the offensive lineman’s subpar season. Even if the 26-year-old proves that he can’t cut it as a starter, the writer believes the former undrafted free agent could still contribute as a depth piece.
  • Michael C. Wright would choose a safety in the first round if he was in charge of the Bears. However, the writer notes that general manager Ryan Pace believes in selecting the best player available, regardless of position.
  • If Ndamukong Suh ultimately leaves Detroit, Michael Rothstein thinks the Lions have the flexibility to move to a 3-4 defensive scheme. If the team decides to stick with a 4-3, then Rothstein suggests the team could look to sign Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton as Suh’s replacement.
  • It’s not necessary for Aaron Rodgers to restructure his contract, writes Rob Demovsky. With more than $18MM in projected cap room, the Packers shouldn’t have an issue retaining free agents such as Randall Cobb.
  • Dan Graziano explores potential cap casualties for the Giants. The writer points to defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka as the most likely to be released, while linebacker Jon Beason and center J.D. Walton are also candidates.

Draft Notes: Perryman, Dolphins, Lions

The Senior Bowl means plenty of draft speculation and talk of the Dolphins tapping local star Denzel Perryman has been a hot topic in recent days. However, drafting Perryman is going to require a long and thoughtful debate in Miami, as Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald writes. While GM Dennis Hickey doesn’t often mind drafting players that do not meet prototypical size and speed requirements (see: Jarvis Landry), assistant GM Eric Stokes does not feel the same way. Perryman, unfortunately, does not have the size one would usually want in a middle linebacker. More draft news..

  • Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin could wind up as the next coach of the Falcons, but he’s not neglecting his duties in Detroit, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Austin booked interviews with Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant, Miami (Ohio) cornerback Quinten Rollins, and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty last night.
  • East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy said he a great meeting with the Ravens at the Senior Bowl, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
  • Penn State linebacker Mike Hull and defensive end Deion Barnes have each met with the Eagles at the Senior Bowl, according to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com (on Twitter). Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith and USC cornerback Josh Shaw have also met with the Eagles (link).
  • The Giants met with wide receivers Sammie Coates and Devin Smith, according to Jordan Raanan of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter).

East Notes: Fangio, Foles, Rolle

After dining with Washington brass last night, Vic Fangio will have a lengthy, official interview today for the team’s vacant defensive coordinator post, reports Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Fangio, who also met with the Bears regarding their defensive coordinator vacancy, is widely regarded as Washington’s top choice.

Now for some more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Although a new GM and new defensive coordinator could change things, John Keim of ESPN.com appears convinced that Brian Orakpo will not return to Washington next year.
  • They have some in-house matters to take care of first, but Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com writes that the Eagles, although not flush with cash, will have enough money to be players in the free agent market. McManus suggests if the team makes a big splash, it will come at the corner or safety positions.
  • In the midst of rumors that Nick Foles may not be the Eagles‘ long-term solution at quarterback, star running back LeSean McCoy defended his signal caller, McManus writes. “I like Nick,” said McCoy. “The person and the player that everybody thought he was, he is. There were a lot of injuries this year — Nick obviously got injured. He gets all the blame and he shouldn’t. I think Nick is a good quarterback, he is the leader of this team, and things just didn’t work out for him this year due to injury. But we’ve got his back.”
  • Jordan Raanan of NJ.com does not believe Antrel Rolle will return to the Giants next year, and he looks at how that will affect the team’s free safety position. Raanan also looks at a few possible cap casualties.
  • Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes that, even if his hires of Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan turn out poorly, owner Woody Johnson should at least get credit for taking the right approach in making those hires.
  • Brian Costello of the New York Post provides a behind-the-scenes look at those Jets hires from Charley Casserly, who served as Johnson’s adviser during the hiring process.

Coach Updates: Spagnuolo, 49ers, Shanahan

New Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a huge task ahead of him, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. While Vacchiano believes that head coach Tom Coughlin made a great decision going into his past to hire his best defensive coordinator. The tough part is that Spagnuolo will have to match his past success without stars such as Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora.

  • There are a number of Giants players who could improve under Spagnuolo’s tutelage, writes Nick Powell of NJ.com. Howell picks out Johnathan Hankins, Antrel Rolle, Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers, and Jameel McClain as guys who may benefit.
  • The 49ers are looking for a new offensive coordinator after Greg Roman joined the Bills, and Colts offensive assistant Rob Chudzinski is well positioned to take over, writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter).
  • Other candidates for the offensive coordinator position with the 49ers include former head coaches Mike Shanahan and Lane Kiffin, reports Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News. Shanhan was once thought of in the mix for head coaching jobs, and Kiffin would be coming from the University of Alabama.
  • 49ers offensive assistant Ronald Curry will have an opportunity to stay with the team as the wide receivers coach, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter). Curry has not been given permission by the team to interview for the Bills, where he could have rejoined offensive coordinator Roman (via Twitter).
  • Former Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan almost was hired in Baltimore a year ago, and if Gary Kubiak leaves the Ravens to take the Broncos head coaching job, the team could revisit Shanahan, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The team is still impressed with his strong interview last year.

Giants Hire Steve Spagnuolo As DC

4:05pm: The Giants have officially announced the hiring of Spagnuolo as their new defensive coordinator, along with Tim Walton as their secondary coach, tweets Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.

3:34pm: Six years after leaving the Giants to become head coach of the Rams, Steve Spagnuolo will be returning to New York to reclaim the defensive coordinator job he previously held with the team, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, who reports (via Twitter) that Spagnuolo is the Giants’ DC pick.

Spagnuolo, who has worked for the Rams, Saints, and Ravens in various roles since he was last employed by the Giants, acted as Baltimore’s secondary coach in 2014. Given all the injuries sustained by members of the Ravens’ secondary, particularly at cornerback, Spagnuolo did an admirable job holding the unit together. Per Football Outsiders, the Ravens finished 15th in DVOA against the pass.

Pepper Johnson, Raheem Morris, and Dennis Allen had also been under consideration for the Giants’ defensive coordinator position, though Johnson was ruled out earlier today. The decision appeared to come down to Allen and Spagnuolo, with the latter having been considered the frontrunner to replace Perry Fewell throughout the process. For Allen, a defensive coordinator job may still be a possibility if and when John Fox lands the Bears’ head coaching position.

NFC East Notes: Washington, Linehan, Giants

There’s still no action on Washington‘s defensive coordinator hunt, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post (all Twitter links), who hears that the team does indeed have interest in Vic Fangio, though it remains unclear if an interview is being scheduled. As Jones notes, Washington could still end up hiring Joe Barry, as had been previously reported, but it appears the team has pumped the brakes a little on making a final decision — as more candidates become available, the process of making a hire is perhaps lasting a little longer than expected.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the NFC East….

  • As I speculated earlier today, Scott Linehan‘s new deal with the Cowboys will indeed include the official offensive coordinator title, since Bill Callahan is expected to leave the team, tweets Ed Werder of ESPN.com. Linehan, who is signing a three-year contract, essentially played the role of OC in 2014, since he called the club’s plays while Callahan primarily worked with the offensive line.
  • Owner Jerry Jones believes the Cowboys are capable of being major players in free agency, but isn’t sure exactly how active they’ll be, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I’d love to have the opportunity to improve that pass rush in the range of something that we could afford and make sense logically,” Jones told reporters.
  • The Giants have informed Bills defensive line coach Pepper Johnson that they’re going a different direction with their defensive coordinator hire, a source tells Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (Twitter link).
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap previews the Giants‘ offseason, examining the team’s cap situation and potential approach to free agency.

Coach Updates: Linehan, Gase, Rams, Falcons

The Cowboys and offensive play-caller Scott Linehan have agreed to terms on a new contract that will keep him in Dallas, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). On the heels of Jason Garrett‘s extension, Linehan is the second assistant – along with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli – to come to an agreement with the team on a new deal.

What remains to be seen is whether Linehan will keep his current job title — as Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is exploring potential options with other teams and has “multiple big-money offers,” so if Callahan doesn’t return to the Cowboys, perhaps his OC title goes to Linehan for the 2015 season.

Here’s more on coaching openings around the NFL:

  • The Rams have requested permission to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase for their own OC opening, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Gase has primarily been a head coaching candidate this offseason, but didn’t end up landing with the 49ers, who were viewed as his most aggressive suitor. Gase is reportedly still under consideration as a head coaching option in Denver.
  • While Dan Quinn is considered the frontrunner for the Falcons‘ head coaching vacancy, don’t rule out Teryl Austin, who has a “legit chance,” says Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, adding that Austin’s second interview with the club is happening now (Twitter links).
  • Speaking of the Falcons, they’re “blocking a raid” on their coaching staff, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution details, having denied the Jets permission to interview special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and having also turned away the Raiders, who wanted to speak to offensive line coach Mike Tice. Despite not having a head coach in place yet, the club wants to make most of the current staff available to the new coach.
  • With Todd Bowles headed to New York, the Cardinals intend to promote one of their current defensive assistants to the defensive coordinator position, though the team isn’t sure yet which assistant will get the job, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Somers adds that the new DC should get some help from Dick LeBeau, whom the Cards want to hire as a senior assistant.
  • 49ers players had overwhelmingly positive reactions to news that Jim Tomsula would be promoted to head coach, writes Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group, rounding up the most notable comments from Niners players.
  • Candidates for the Giants‘ defensive coordinator opening – including Dennis Allen, Pepper Johnson, Raheem Morris, and Steve Spagnuolo – expect a decision by week’s end, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link).

NFC East Notes: Giants, McAdoo, Eagles

Giants owner John Mara told ESPN 98.7 FM that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is not the coach in waiting, but he won’t hide his affinity for him, as Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News tweets. “I’m not going to deny that I like him and he could possibly be a candidate at some point in the future,” the owner said (link). More from the NFC East..

  • Mara was also complimentary of GM Jerry Reese (link). “I don’t have any doubt about Jerry Reese. He’s the right guy to lead the organization going forward,” said Mara.
  • It has been nearly two weeks since the Eagles gave coach Chip Kelly total control of personnel, announcing in the process that Kelly would be hiring a new day-to-day personnel executive. After the shakeup, agents aren’t quite sure whether they should reach out to Kelly, GM Howie Roseman, or someone else, writes Les Bowen of the Daily News.
  • Bob Sturm of The Dallas Morning News ranked the Cowboys’ draft needs. He feels that Dallas needs a defensive end, then a safety, and then the best difference maker they can get, regardless of position.
  • Nate Davis of USA Today looked at the teams most likely to pursue Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. While the Eagles seem like a fit, it would take a ton for Philly to move up from No. 20 to No. 1 to make that a reality.