Month: November 2018

Extra Points: Allen, Wayne, Eagles, Bears

Washington GM Bruce Allen held his year-end press conference today and was put in a position where he more or less had to defend his job, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. At the presser, Allen defended the signing of free agent defensive end Jason Hatcher and putting the franchise tag on linebacker Brian Orakpo. Orakpo was given the franchise tag despite a serious injury history and Hatcher was given a lucrative deal despite mild production prior to his walk year. Here’s more from around the league in our New Year’s Eve edition of Extra Points..

  • If pressed for a decision, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne says he’d come back for 2015, ESPN.com’s Mike Wells writes. “If I had to answer that question today, I’d say I’ll be back… as long as the Colts would have me,” he said on his weekly radio show on WNDE-1260 AM in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
  • The Eagles released Tom Gamble, their vice president of player personnel, earlier today. The move adds weight to speculation that coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman have not seen eye to eye over the last year, ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan writes.
  • The Bears have requested to interview five GM candidates, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter): Chris Ballard (Chiefs), Lake Dawson (Titans), Eric DeCosta (Ravens), Brian Gaine (Texans), and Ryan Pace (Saints).
  • Colts backup Matt Hasselbeck isn’t under contract for 2015, but he’s also not thinking about retirement, writes Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Neither he nor the Colts have discussed a return just yet, but he sounds very open to the idea.
  • The Buccaneers like Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, but they could have competition for his services, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. A source says that Koetter is held in high regard by two other head coaching candidates: Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap looked ahead at what’s in store for the Titans this offseason.
  • Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson declined a plea bargain on an October arrest, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Johnson becomes a free agent in early March and has said that he will seek a multi-year deal.

Packers Want To Extend Letroy Guion

The Packers are hoping to get a new deal done with defensive tackle Letroy Guion in the New Year, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. The Packers got a great value off of his one-year, $1MM deal and they want to re-up, even though the next contract will surely cost them more.

Letroy has been everything we thought he was going to be,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said recently. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Letroy in Minnesota. I think he’s come over to us, and I think he’s taken his game up a notch. He’s an excellent fit in the locker room; teammates love him. He’s an excellent teammate and he’s a damn good football player.”

The 6’4″, 315-pound former fifth-round pick had career-highs in tackles (62) and sacks (3.5) this season after coming over from Minnesota. While a new deal might not be struck in the next couple of days, agent Seth Katz says that discussions of a new pact are underway.

We’ve had some very, very early conversations,” Katz said. “The Packers are obviously focused on the postseason, but we know how they feel about him, and they know he wants to be back. We’re not making it a secret that he wants to stay in Green Bay.”

After B.J. Raji tore his right biceps tendon, Guion stepped up in a major way, making his presence felt and making the Packers aware of his true value. Guion started all 16 games at the nose tackle position instead of Raji, who is also a free agent. While Raji has an unclear future at this time, it’s clear that the Packers want Guion to be a part of theirs.

Pro Football Focus (subscription req’d) hasn’t been all that impressed with Guion this season, rating him No. 61 out of 81 qualified nose tackles in 2014.

Bills Coach Doug Marrone Opts Out

7:43pm: The Bills have yet to decide on whether they’ll bring in a football czar and who it might be, whether it’s Polian or Mike Holmgren or someone else, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Marrone could have worked out a lucrative extension with the Bills, but he was nervous about signing on without knowing who the top boss would be (link).

5:39pm: The Bills will hire Bill Polian as their team president, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The move may not be announced until January, however, due to his other commitments. Polian currently serves as an NFL analyst for ESPN and presumably will tie up some loose ends in Bristol.

5:38pm: Bills owner Terry Pegula has issued a statement on Marrone’s departure:

Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach. “We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives. We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.”

5:29pm: Bills coach Doug Marrone has opted out of his contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Marrone, surprisingly, gets to pocket his 2015 salary even though he’s headed elsewhere (link).

Marrone asked the Pegula family for an extension and was rebuffed, leading to his exit, according to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News (on Twitter). Marrone also asked for extensions for his assistant coaches and was shut down. While he didn’t get what he wanted, the former Syracuse coach did get to walk away with his full $4MM paycheck thanks to a very advantageous contract clause negotiated by agent Jimmy Sexton.Doug Marrone (vertical)

Marrone is now a free agent at a time when several NFL teams are looking for new head coaches. The Jets will have strong interest in him, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Bills will have their eye on Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich. The Jets already satisfied the Rooney Rule by interviewing Anthony Lynn earlier today, so they could theoretically hire Marrone right away.

The Bills went 9-7 this year under Marrone – their first winning season since 2004 – and 6-10 in 2013. In total, he has a 15-17 record as an NFL coach. Marrone, of course, first made a name for himself as the head coach at Syracuse, where he guided the lowly Orange to a 25-25 mark and two bowl appearances over the course of four seasons. While his win-loss totals may not be the prettiest, Marrone found success with a very hard-nosed defense this past season and should draw widespread interest from around the NFL. One has to imagine that he could already have his next opportunity lined up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor Moves: Wednesday

Playoff teams and non-playoff teams both continue to make roster moves this week, and we’ll round up today’s minor transactions below. Here’s the latest:

  • The Jaguars signed wide receiver Arrelious Benn to a two-year deal, a league source tells Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Dan Duggan of NJ.com reports (via Twitter) that the team also signed safety Jeremy Deering.
  • Long snapper Brandon Hartson inked a futures contract with the Chiefs, according to agent Brian McLaughlin (via Twitter). Kansas City has been busy locking up players for 2015, announcing 14 reserve deals yesterday.
  • Per Oliver Thomas of PatriotsObserver.com (via Twitter), the Patriots signed three players to reserve/futures contracts today: Defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, linebacker Rufus Johnson, and running back Dion Lewis. Since New England’s season isn’t over, the team can’t yet lock up any players from its practice squad to futures deals.
  • The Saints have added another player on a reserve/futures contract, signing veteran safety Kenny Phillips today, tweets Evan Woodbery of the Times-Picayune. A former first-round pick, Phillips worked out for New Orleans in November.

Earlier updates:

  • Cornerback Roc Carmichael and guard Antoine McClain inked reserve/futures deals with the Cardinals, per Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (Twitter link). Carmichael has spent time with the Eagles over the last two seasons, while McClain finished the 2014 campaign on the Bears’ practice squad.
  • The Panthers signed guard Tyronne Green to a futures contract for 2015, the team announced today (Twitter link). Green most recently spent time with the Cowboys, having been cut by the team in July.
  • The Bengals have placed wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher on the injured reserve list due to a concussion, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). While losing Sanzenbacher, who caught just nine balls this season, isn’t a significant blow for Cincinnati, the team hopes A.J. Green won’t miss this weekend’s game with a similar ailment. With the newly-opened spot on the 53-man roster, the Bengals promoted wideout Cobi Hamilton from the practice squad.
  • Offensive tackle Joe Long, the brother of Rams tackle Jake Long, has been added to the Lions‘ taxi squad, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Detroit had been carrying just nine players on its unit, so no corresponding move was required to make room for Long.
  • The Buccaneers have signed former Northern Colorado quarterback Seth Lobato to a reserve/futures contract for 2015, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

Draft Updates: Wednesday

NCAA underclassmen have a little over two weeks to declare for the 2015 NFL draft, and several have done so already. Our list of 2015’s early entrants can be found right here, and we have some more names to add to that list today. Here’s the latest on college players forgoing their remaining NCAA years and heading to the NFL:

  • Simon Fraser University standout wide receiver Lemar Durant has declared for both the CFL and NFL Draft, according to TSN.
  • LSU cornerback Jalen Collins will enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune. Collins received a favorable draft grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, which indicated that he should either project as a first- or second-round pick.
  • LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander will enter the 2015 draft, according to Scott Griffin of CBSSports.com and FOX 6 Birmingham (Twitter link). Alexander figures to be a mid-round pick in the spring.
  • Stanford cornerback Alex Carter has decided to enter the NFL draft, writes Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I talked it over with my family, and we decided it’s time,” Carter said following Stanford’s Foster Farms Bowl victory over Maryland. The corner will likely be a day-two pick.

Earlier updates:

  • Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson announced today on his Instagram that he’ll be entering the 2015 draft, according to the SEC Network (via Twitter). Robinson had a breakout junior year for the Bulldogs and is expected to be a mid-round pick in the spring, per WalterFootball.com.
  • Word is circulating that Houston wide receiver Deontay Greenberry has chosen an agent and is entering the draft, tweets Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. While Pauline says he likes Greenberry’s game “a lot,” WalterFootball.com’s assessment of the young wideout suggested he should return to school for his senior year. Still, he looks like a potential second-day pick.
  • Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft has opted to enter the 2015 draft, passing up his final year of college eligibility, coach Kyle Flood announced on Tuesday, according to Keith Sargeant of NJ.com. “I just had a meeting with Tyler Kroft and his dad a little while ago and Tyler is going to declare for the NFL Draft and we couldn’t be more excited for him,” Flood said. “We thank him for all of his contributions and everything that he’s added to our program over the last four years. He has four credits left to graduate, which he should be able to get that done this spring, and we’re looking forward to him having a great career in the NFL going forward.” Kroft is projected as a potential third- or fourth-round pick by CBSSports.com and WalterFootball.com.
  • Shortly after his Penn State teammate Donovan Smith announced he was entering the draft, defensive end Deion Barnes confirmed that he would also forgo his final year of college eligibility, per a team release. “I talked with my family and we believe it’s best for me to move forward and forgo my fifth year,” Barnes said. The young defensive end has upside, but had an up-and-down college career and will have to perform well in workouts and at the combine to improve his draft stock.

Fallout From Doug Marrone Opt Out

Earlier today Doug Marrone shocked many when he opted out of his contract with the Bills. Marrone’s deal included an opt out that still grants him his $4MM salary for 2015 and allows him to pursue other head coaching jobs immediately. The latest on the league’s newest coaching candidate..

  • A simple stop-gap approach for the Bills would be to elevate defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who did a great job with the defense in 2014, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.
  • If Bill Polian will be part of the future, some expect the Bills to pursue Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich. “Bill loves him,” a source with knowledge of the Polian-Reich relationship told Florio.
  • The Jets are expected to schedule an interview with Marrone, Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com writes.
  • Marrone was not a fan of Geno Smith at all in 2013, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets.
  • Former GM Buddy Nix, who remains on the Bills’ staff, has a contract that expires next month and he will not be asked back, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter) spoke with one Jets source who wasn’t enthused about the possibility of the team hiring Marrone. “You got rid of Rex Ryan for this?,” the source rhetorically asked.
  • Joe Buscaglia of WGR (on Twitter) credits the team for not feeling beholden to Marrone just for giving them a winning season.
  • Bills players took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with Marrone, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes.

Colts Place Gosder Cherilus On IR

As they prepare for this Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Bengals, the Colts have moved offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus to the injured reserve list, ending his season, the team announced today. Guard David Arkin has been promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster to take Cherilus’ place.

Cherilus, 30, started 13 of the team’s 14 games for the Colts this season at right tackle before being slowed by groin and shoulder injuries, appearing in all but three offensive snaps in those 13 contests. Now that he’s slated to be out for any and all postseason games Indianapolis plays, Joe Reitz looks like the most likely candidate to step in and take over at right tackle.

A former first-round pick, Cherilus remains under contract with the Colts through 2017, though his cap hit jumps from $3.9MM this year to $6.9MM in 2015. We’ll have to wait and see if the club intends to keep him on board at that rate, particularly after a season in which he recorded a subpar -16.8 grade, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required).

To replace Arkin on the taxi squad, the Colts signed wide receiver Kadron Boone.

Coach Notes: Kubiak, Raiders, Giants, Sumlin

Already cited as a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs, Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told reporters today that he isn’t currently thinking about those opportunities (link via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). According to Kubiak, his entire focus is on winning this Saturday’s game against the Steelers.

“I told you guys before that I’m consumed with what I’m doing,” Kubiak said. “It’s not time for stuff like that. It’s always flattering as a coach to be mentioned by any organization in football. My total focus is on our football game and trying to enjoy what I’m doing right now.”

As our head coaching search tracker shows, the Bears and Jets have requested an interview with Kubiak, so perhaps if the Ravens lose this weekend, those two clubs will have a chance to speak to him next week.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates, as we get ready to turn the page on 2014:

  • Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll revealed that his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, has already interviewed for the Raiders‘ head coaching position.
  • Following the departure of quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf for Nebraska, the Giants have re-hired a familiar face for the position, bringing back Mike Sullivan, the team announced today in a press release. Sullivan was the club’s quarterbacks coach in 2010 and 2011.
  • Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has informed multiple NFL teams with interest in his services that he’ll remain with the Aggies, sources tell ESPN.com. Will Carroll of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears from a source that Sumlin’s agent was contacted by three NFL clubs.
  • Speaking of Texas A&M, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets that Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was on the school’s radar for the same position with the Aggies. As ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson writes, Tarver’s contract with Oakland is set to expire, so there’s a good chance he’ll be on the move this offseason, especially if the team doesn’t make Tony Sparano its permanent head coach.

Chargers GM Talks Rivers, RBs, Offseason

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco addressed reporters in an end-of-season press conference today, and Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune passed along several of the GM’s more notable comments. Here are the highlights from the presser, with all links headed to Gehlken’s Twitter account:

  • Philip Rivers is under contract for one more year, and the Chargers will “definitely” work to extend his contract this offseason, said Telesco, adding that he thinks the quarterback has several good years left in him, and he wants Rivers to finish his career in San Diego. Still, Telesco admitted that he has to keep an eye on “what’s next” at the QB position, which may mean adding a young player to develop in the not-so-distant future.
  • Telesco is pleased with the culture and the foundation in place in San Diego, and thinks the next step is for the Chargers to continue developing their current young players and adding complementary pieces — no overhaul of any kind is necessary.
  • Discussing San Diego’s running backs, Telesco said Donald Brown – who is under contract for 2015 – will be back and that the front office knows what Ryan Mathews means the team. Mathews is a free agent, and the GM appreciates having time to make a decision on him.
  • Telesco also acknowledged that the running game must improve, which involves upgrading the offensive line as well.
  • The Chargers have “a number” of contracts to extend or restructure heading into the offseason, according to Telesco, though he didn’t identify specific deals.
  • The interest Frank Reich is receiving as a head coaching candidate doesn’t surprise Telesco, but the GM “selfishly” wants the offensive coordinator to remain in San Diego. The club won’t stop Reich from pursuing head coaching opportunities.
  • Telesco is comfortable with D.J. Fluker at right tackle moving forward.

Front Office Notes: Eagles, Raiders, Bills

We’ve passed along a couple rounds of coaching-related rumors already today, but with teams looking ahead to the 2015 season, some front-office shakeups could occur as well. Let’s check in on the latest updates on front offices around the NFL…

  • In a surprising move, the Eagles announced today that they’ve mutually agreed to parted ways with vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble (Twitter link). Reporting on the move before it was officially confirmed by the team, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link) called it a firing, predicting that the Eagles may refer to it as parting ways, but “it is what it is.” Gamble was identified by Adam Caplan of ESPN.com a couple weeks ago as one of the league’s top candidates to land a GM job this offseason.
  • Reacting to Gamble’s departure, Eagles writers like Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link) and Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com suggest that it sounds like a win for GM Howie Roseman, who has the backing of owner Jeffrey Lurie. As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote earlier this week, head coach Chip Kelly was a fan of Gamble, calling him a “heck of a football guy” while referring to Roseman as more of a cap manager.
  • According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), Mike Holmgren, Kevin Warren of the Vikings, and Russ Brandon of the Bills are drawing some interest from the Raiders as a potential team president. Following up on that report, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News tweets that Brandon may have headed to Oakland if Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula hadn’t taken over as the owners in Buffalo, but he’s staying with the organization now.
  • With a midnight opt-out deadline looming for Bills head coach Doug Marrone, La Canfora tweets that he continues to hear about friction between Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that Marrone is still expected to remain in Buffalo, so it will be interesting to see if Whaley returns for the 2015 season as well.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we learned that Vikings assistant GM George Paton turned down opportunities to interview for the Bears‘ and Jets‘ general manager openings, and will stick with Minnesota.