Coaching Rumors: Browns, Eagles, Jets, Bucs

Former Packers defensive passing game coordinator Joe Whitt will join the Browns‘ staff, according to Zac Jackson of The Athletic (Twitter link). Whitt, who had offers from other clubs, will take the same title in Cleveland, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.The Browns haven’t been shy about adding ex-Packers to their staff, as they already have John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf, and Alonzo Highsmith in their front office. Whitt, 40, interviewed for Green Bay’s defensive coordinator job in January 2018, and was at one point considered the favorite to land the role. But Whitt, who was the Packers’ cornerbacks coach at the time, lost out to external candidate Mike Pettine, and was subsequently given an elevated title. Whitt will now reunite with Browns safety Damarious Randall, who was a Packers second-round pick in 2015.

Here’s more from the coaching carousel:

  • After losing to the Saints in the Divisional Round, the Eagles have begun to experience staff turnover. The contracts of defensive line coach Chris Wilson and assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung have expired, while wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer has been told he can leave for other NFL opportunities, report Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter links). None of three coaches will return to Philadelphia in 2019. Wilson and Chung had been with the Eagles since 2016, while Brewer just joined the club this past offseason.
  • Now that Gregg Williams has officially been hired as the Jets‘ defensive coordinator, he’s expected to bring his son Blake aboard as linebackers coach, tweets Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Blake has followed his father to nearly every one of his NFL stops. Meanwhile, New York is expected to retain at least a few members of its previous defensive staff even now that its hired Williams. Former Dolphins defensive line coach Kris Kocurek was a candidate for the same job with the Jets, but he was quickly scooped up by the 49ers.
  • Freddie Kitchens has added another coach to his Browns staff, hiring Tennessee assistant to the head coach John Lilly as the club’s new tight ends coach, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). He’ll work with former first-round pick David Njoku, plus other Cleveland tight ends such as Seth Devalve and Darren Fells. Lilly served as the Rams’ tight ends coach in 2016.
  • The Ravens are searching for a new running backs coach after Thomas Hammock was hired as Northern Illinois’ new head coach, tweets Brett McMurphy of Stadium Network. The 37-year-old Hammock — a NIU alum — joined Baltimore in 2014, and last season led a backfield with options like Gus Edwards, Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, and Javorius Allen. The Ravens also announced that they’ve shifted Bobby Engram from receivers coach to tight ends coach.
  • The Buccaneers convinced Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and become their head coach earlier this month, but Tampa Bay’s interest in Arians actually dates back far further. Arians was a Bucs target for offensive coordinator in 2012 after he was fired by the Steelers, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com indicated on his podcast (Twitter link via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times).

Chargers Plan To Extend Philip Rivers

The Chargers plan to extend the contract of quarterback Philip Rivers, who is entering the final year of his deal, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com.

“I can tell you he’s not going anywhere, so he’s going to be here,” Los Angeles general manager Tom Telesco said. “We’ll talk at the right point, as far as the moves we need to make in the offseason, the resources we have and how it all fits in. But yeah, he’s not going anywhere.”

Rivers, 37, sounded amenable to an extension, as well. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Rivers is due an $11MM base salary and $5MM roster bonus in 2019, and has a cap charge of $23MM. His current pact, which he inked in 2015, contains an average annual vale of $20.812MM. That figure ranked fourth among quarterbacks at the time of signing, but now sits at just 14th among signal-callers.

Last year, Rivers started all 16 games for the 13th consecutive season, and posted 4,308 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. His adjusted net yards per attempt (7.79) was the third-highest average in the league and Rivers’ best mark since 2009, while he finished seventh in Total QBR.

Cowboys Notes: Frederick, Colombo, Colman

Cowboys center Travis Frederick underwent shoulder surgery last week to repair a labrum issue, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Head coach Jason Garrett received the news of Frederick’s operation as a positive, an indication that Frederick is preparing for the 2019 campaign after missing the entirety of last season while battling Guillain-Barre syndrome. Frederick, an All-Pro caliber pivot when healthy, regained feeling in his hands in November, and hasn’t dealt with any recent numbness, per Archer. In December, Frederick expressed optimism that he’ll be ready for next season.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Offensive line coach Marc Colombo will return to the Cowboys in 2019 after agreeing to a new contract, reports Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Colombo, 40, played for Dallas from 2005-10, then joined the club’s staff as assistant offensive line coach prior to the 2016 season. He interviewed for the Cowboys’ tight ends coach job last January, and was “in the mix” to take over Dallas’ front five after the team fired Frank Pollack following the 2017 season. Instead, that job went to Paul Alexander, whom Colombo ended up replacing midway through the 2018 campaign.
  • Cowboys defensive Antwaun Woods tore his labrum in the second quarter of Dallas’ Divisional Round loss to the Rams, and in an impressive show of will, played the rest of the game, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Woods underwent surgery to correct the issue today. A 2016 undrafted free agent who spent his first two NFL seasons on the Titans’ practice squad, Woods played the most snaps of any Cowboys defensive tackle last seaaon. He’s under contract at the league minimum in 2019, and will be a restricted free agent the following offesason.
  • The Cowboys have fired assistant special teams coach Doug Colman, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. At this point, that’s the only known change to the Dallas coaching staff. Colman, 45, previously served as a linebacker/special teams assistant with the Texans before joining the Cowboys last offseason. Dallas ranked 23rd in Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics in 2018.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/17/19

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2019 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters:

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • DB Marcelis Branch

Important 2019 Offseason Dates

Even with the NFL in the midst of the postseason, the offseason is already underway, as head coaching and other staff vacancies are quickly being fgilled. As such, it’s worth looking ahead to the NFL’s offseason calendar for an idea of which dates will be more important during the next several weeks and months. With teams filling out their coaching staffs and preparing to make changes to rosters, there are plenty of days to circle on the calendar.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the NFL’s key offseason dates and deadlines:

January

  • January 19
    • East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • January 19
    • NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California.
  • January 26
    • Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
  • January 27
    • Assistant coaches for teams in the Super Bowl – who have previously interviewed for a head coaching job – can interview a second time with the club no later than the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

February

  • February 4
    • 2019 waiver system begins.
  • February 12
    • Teams may sign CFL players whose 2018 contracts have expired.
  • February 19

    • First day for teams to designate a franchise or transition player.
  • February 26-March 4
    • The NFL scouting combine will be held in Indianapolis.

March

  • March 5
    • As of 3pm CT, teams can no longer designate a franchise or transition player.
  • March 11-13
    • Team may contact agents and negotiate contracts for players who will become unrestricted free agents on March 13. Free agent contracts can’t be signed yet, but informal agreements can be reached.
  • March 13
    • The 2019 league year begins, and free agency opens. By 3pm CT, teams must make decisions on player options, submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents, submit minimum tenders to exclusive rights free agents, and be under the 2019 salary cap. Trades can be made and free agents can be signed after 3pm CT.
  • March 24-27
    • The NFL owners meetings will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

April

  • April 19
    • Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
  • April 24
    • Deadline for previous club to exercise right of first refusal (ie. match offer sheets) on restricted free agents.
  • April 25-27
    • The NFL draft will be held in Nashville, Tennessee.

May

  • May 2
    • Teams exercising fifth-year options on 2016 first-round picks must do so prior to May 2.

July

  • July 15
    • Deadline for teams to work out multi-year contracts with free agents designated as franchise players.

West Notes: Broncos, Cardinals, 49ers

Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and the rest of the Broncos‘ pass rushers will have a new coach in 2019, as Denver has announced Brandon Staley as its new outside linebackers coach. Staley had worked in the same role with the Bears for the past two years, and he’ll follow ex-Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to the Mile High City. After leading Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd in Chicago, Staley will now be tasked with taking over a Denver pass rush that ranked ninth in adjusted sack rate a season ago. The Packers also had interest in interviewing Staley, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, but the Bears evidently didn’t want him to remain in the NFC North, so they blocked the request.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Staley isn’t the only coach headed to Denver, as the Broncos have also hired Wade Harman as their new tight ends coach, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Harman was Atlanta’s offensive line coach in 2014, but switched to tight ends in 2015 and remained in that role through last season. He played a role in the development of Austin Hooper, who posted career-highs in receptions (71), yards (660), and touchdowns (four) last year. Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman is a pending free agent, but even if he doesn’t return, Harman will work with young options such as Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli, each of whom ended the 2018 campaign on injured reserve.
  • The Broncos are interviewing former guard Chris Kuper for their assistant offensive line coach job, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Kuper, who spent his entire playing career (2006-13) in Denver, coached in Miami for the past three seasons. He’d be working under one of the NFL’s best offensive line coaches in Mike Munchak, who was hired earlier this week. In 2018, the Broncos ranked as a top-11 club in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders.
  • Former Broncos safety Renaldo Hill is back with the club as secondary coach, tweets Klis. Hill’s playing career actually ended after general manager John Elway cut him following the 2010 season, but he’s gone on to an impressive coaching career since, and Klis notes Hill is considered a “rising star” in the coaching ranks. After six years in the college ranks, Hill acted as the Dolphins’ assistant defensive backs coach in 2018.
  • The Denver-to-Arizona connection is still going strong: the Cardinals have hired ex-Broncos coaches Marcus Robertson (defensive backs) and Greg Williams (assistant DBs), per Rapoport and Klis (Twitter links). Robertson and Williams will continue to work under new Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who helmed the Broncos from 2017-18. In addition to Joseph, Robertson, and Williams, the Cards also brought former Broncos offensive line coach Sean Kugler aboard.
  • After hiring a new defensive line coach in Kris Kocurek, the 49ers will retain pass-rushing specialist Chris Kiffin, reports Matt Barrows of The Athletic. The son of Monte Kiffin and brother of Lane Kiffin, Chris Kiffin joined San Francisco in 2018 after previously serving in the college ranks.

NFC North Rumors: Bears, Vikings, Packers

The Bears have agreed to hire former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino as a defensive assistant, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. Monachino served as Indy’s DC from 2016-17 when Chuck Pagano — who’s since been hired as Chicago’s defensive play-caller — was head coach, so the connection makes sense. A former linebackers and defensive line coach in Baltimore and Jacksonville, respectively, Monachino spent the 2018 season as a defensive analyst at the University of Missouri. He’d recently agreed to become the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, but he’ll back out of that commitment to join Pagano and the Bears. While there’s no official word as to what title Monachino will hold in Chicago, he’s likely coming aboard as linebackers coach.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Tight ends coach Todd Downing is not expected to return to the Vikings in 2019, reports Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Downing still has a year remaining on his contract and was offered two new roles on offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski‘s staff, but it sounds like Downing turned down both opportunities. He’s now looking for other jobs elsewhere, and while there is a small chance he could eventually come back to Minnesota, a reunion is not considered likely, per Cronin. Downing, 38, was a rising star as recently as 2017, when the Raiders pushed out Bill Musgrave in order to make Downing offensive coordinator.
  • The Packers are expected to interview former Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack for the same role, per Jim Owczarski of PackersNews.com. Pollack was let go by Cincinnati despite excellent 2018 results, as new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is reportedly eyeing Bill Callahan for his club’s OL coach gig. Green Bay, meanwhile, is on the hunt for a new offensive line coach after James Campen departed for Cleveland. 49ers assistant OL coach Adam Stenavich is already on the Packers’ radar, as San Francisco granted Green Bay interview permission on Wednesday.
  • Defensive assistant Scott McCurley won’t be retained as part of new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur‘s staff, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. McCurley was Green Bay’s assistant linebackers coach from 2014-17, but moved into a generic defensive assistant role prior to last season. Per Demovsky, McCurely should be a popular name around the league given his experience under multiple defensive coordinators in Green Bay.
  • Luke Getsy — who served as the Packers‘ wide receivers coach from 2016-17 — is a candidate to return to that position in Green Bay, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gestsy, 34, spent the 2018 season as the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. The Packers sound as though they are simply waiting on an answer from Getsy, per Silverstein, who notes Getsy’s addition would give quarterback Aaron Rodgers a coach with whom he’s familiar.

Seahawks Sign QB Paxton Lynch

The Seahawks have signed quarterback Paxton Lynch, according to the NFL’s transaction wire. The deal was first reported by Ian Furness of KJR Radio (on Twitter). 

Lynch may be a backup option for the Seahawks in 2019 behind starter Russell Wilson. Before this pact, Wilson was the only QB under contract for next season. Brett Hundley, who finished out the year as Wilson’s backup, is set for unrestricted free agency.

Wilson, 31 in November, has had a perfect attendance record since entering the league in 2012. Still, you can’t bank on perfect health in football. For all his warts, Lynch may prove to be a quality QB2 for Seattle.

Lynch tried out for roughly 25% of the league’s teams since being cut by the Broncos in 2018, but was unable to land a contract. The former 26th overall selection in the 2016 draft was beaten out twice for the Broncos’ starting quarterback job by former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. In two years with Denver, Lynch managed to start only four games, completing 61.7% of his passes for 792 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. Among the 52 quarterbacks who attempted at least 125 passes during those two seasons, Lynch ranked 41st in passer rating and 46h in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Plan To Keep DC Greg Manusky

Greg Manusky isn’t going anywhere after all. The Redskins explored other candidates for their defensive coordinator position, but they now plan to retain Manusky instead, according to Les Carpenter of the Washington Post.

Over the last couple of weeks, the Redskins have been reportedly mulling ex-head coaches Gregg Williams, Todd Bowles, and Steve Wilks for the DC job. They talked to all three men, but ultimately decided to keep Manusky in order to maintain consistency in the locker room. Someone with knowledge of the Redskins’ plans told Carpenter that head coach Jay Gruden was simply looking for “different perspectives” in those conversations, but it sounds like they would have liked to replace Manusky with Williams.

The Redskins’ D showed promise in 2018, but things fell apart on both sides of the ball after the club’s 6-3 start (of course, Alex Smith‘s injury played a significant role in their drop-off). According to Carpenter’s person in the know, the Redskins are aiming to keep the momentum moving for defensive tackles Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and other young defenders in 2019, despite the occasional hiccups experienced last year.

In 2018, the Redskins allowed the 17th-most yards in the NFL but were tied for tenth in turnovers with 26. Both were improvements over 2017, so things are trending up for Manusky’s unit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Fire OC Bill Musgrave

The Broncos have fired offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (on Twitter). This was the expected move after the team hired former 49ers assistant Rich Scangarello to serve as the team’s new OC

In theory, Musgrave could have stayed on with the Broncos in a different role, but Thursday’s move to dismiss him takes that option off of the table. From here, Musgrave can seek out other assistant jobs, and conceivably put himself in the running for some of the league’s remaining OC vacancies. The Bengals, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, Titans, and Cowboys are still in search of a new offensive chief.

Musgrave was elevated to Broncos’ OC position in the middle of the 2017 season when Mike McCoy was fired from the post.The Broncos went 2-4 after Musgrave took over play calling duties in 2017 and they went just 5–11 with him in 2018.

Musgrave was the Raiders’ offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016 before the team declined to offer him a new contract following the ’16 season. Under Musgrave’s in ’16, the Raiders had the No. 6 ranked offense in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL News & NFL Rumors