Month: November 2018

Extra Points: Colts, Browns, B. Kelly, Bears

We learned earlier today that the Colts are not expected to retain head coach Chuck Pagano, and Bob Kravitz of WTHR provides details on at least one reason why — the contentious relationship between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson. The entire article is well worth a read, as sources tell Kravitz that Grigson has repeatedly overstepped his responsibilities as GM and interfered with the coaching staff, whether by forcing Pagano to play Trent Richardson and Josh Cribbs, or forcing the hire of ex-offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

Here’s more from around the league…

  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson hasn’t had any talks with the club since Week 1, he tells Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), and though he’s open to returning, he’s also interested in reaching the open market. Meanwhile, fellow free-agent-to-be Mitchell Schwartz also says he’d like to re-sign with Cleveland, but allowed that business is business (Twitter link via Nate Ullrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has long been rumored as a future NFL coach, but he doesn’t sound all that eager to make the leap, writes James Kratch of NJ.com. As Kelly expresses, he has full autonomy at Notre Dame, where he essentially acts as owner, general manager, and coach. Unless a club was willing to hand him full roster and personnel control, Kelly doesn’t seem to have an incentive to jump to the professional ranks.
  • If Adam Gase is able to land a head coaching opportunity, the Bears will be in need of a new offensive coordinator, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune believes John Fox will have plenty of options. Ken Whisenhunt, whom Fox nearly hired in Denver, Pat Shurmur, and Mike McCoy (if fired by the Chargers) could all be on the table for Chicago.
  • Offensive tackle Zach Strief wants to retire a Saint, and he doesn’t plan on moving to another team if New Orleans lets him go. “I will come back here until they tell me to stop coming,” Strief told Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com. Strief is set count $4.6MM against the club’s cap next season, and Terrell believes New Orleans would ask the veteran to restructure his deal to stick around.

Breer’s Latest: Garrett, Shanahan, Titans

As he does weekly, Albert Breer of NFL.com has posted his latest column full of insights from around the NFL. Let’s dive in and take a look at the highlights:

  • Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett will return for the 2016 season, team COO Stephen Jones told Breer on Tuesday. “He’s safe,” said Jones of Garrett. “Change isn’t always the right answer. We’re not big believers in it.” Despite Dallas’ poor record, the decision comes as no surprise, as the Cowboys’ struggles were largely due to the absence of quarterback Tony Romo.
  • Romo’s injuries only further signified the need for a stronger backup quarterback situation, and the Cowboys will certainly look at drafting a signal-caller with a high pick in next year’s draft. Jones was quick to caution that such a draft pick would be brought in to watch, rather than start immediately.
  • Former Broncos/Washington head coach Mike Shanahan could be an option for clubs with vacancies, according to Breer. Shanahan is 63 years old, which could force some teams to shy away, but he almost landed the 49ers gig last offseason. Additionally, now that Shanahan’s faith in Kirk Cousins seems to have been validated, clubs might show more interest.
  • Titans general manager Ruston Webster has a good relationship with Ed Marynowitz, the executive whom Chip Kelly selected to run the Eagles’ personnel department. Such a transitive connection could mean nothing, but it could also give Tennessee a leg up on securing Kelly’ services (to say nothing of the presence of quarterback Marcus Mariota).
  • Few in the Saints‘ organization know whether head coach Sean Payton intends to stick around, a source tells Breer. The club’s horrific cap situation could force them to part ways quarterback Drew Brees, a move that would portend a full-scale rebuild — something which Payton might not want to oversee.

East Notes: Chip, Dolphins, Bills, M. Williams

Hours after being fired as head coach of the Eagles, Chip Kelly released a statement reflecting on his tenure (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports). The statement, which can be read in full at the link, saw Kelly thank both owner Jeffrey Lurie and Philadelphia fans, while expressing regret that he wasn’t able to lead the club to a Super Bowl title.

Here’s a look at more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Alex Marvez of FOX Sports lists three potential candidates for the Dolphins‘ head coaching job, identifying former Lions coach Jim Schwartz, Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, and UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. as viable options for Miami.
  • Bills safety Aaron Williams‘ season is over, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), who reports that Williams’ practice period has expired. Williams, who was on injured reserve/designated to return, was said to be mulling retirement earlier this month as he deals with a neck injury.
  • Former Syracuse offensive tackle Sean Hickey, who has spent time with the Saints and Patriots this year, visited the Bills, according to Wilson (Twitter link).
  • Wilson also passes along a workout note on the Giants, tweeting that New York auditioned defensive back C.J. Conway this week. Conway is a familiar face for the Giants, having started the year on the team’s practice squad before being cut in Week 2.
  • We learned earlier today that the Bills plan to cut defensive end Mario Williams during the offseason, and that decision won’t disappoint at least of Williams’ teammates, per Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News (Twitter links), who quotes a fellow Bill as saying Williams displays “zero effort,” “doesn’t care about anybody but himself,” and has “totally checked out.”

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/31/15

Here are the practice squad signings and cuts from around the NFL on the last day of 2015….

Dallas Cowboys

Indianapolis Colts

San Diego Chargers

Eagles Expected To Hire Personnel Chief

As we learned yesterday in the wake of head coach Chip Kelly‘s firing, the Eagles don’t plan to hire a full-time general manager to take control of roster decisions. However, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Philadelphia does intend to bring in a head of personnel “at some point.” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter) confirms this, relaying that the Eagles will hire a “personnel chief” to run day-to-day operations.

As Garafolo notes (Twitter link), executive Tom Donahoe is currently running front office operations, and while the club isn’t using the “interim” label on him, that’s essentially what his title is. For the time being, Howie Roseman is in charge of the personnel department, Rapoport tweets that this prospective new executive will work alongside Roseman. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie spoke yesterday about instituting a more “collaborative” front office approach, and by bringing in a third person to work with Roseman and Donahoe, it seems like the club is trying to do just that.

It’s unclear what – if any – ramifications this news might have on Philadelphia’s upcoming coaching search. Kelly had wrested away personnel power from Roseman, but with the latter now back in a position of authority, it seems likely that the club will look for a coach to focus on just that — coaching. While the trifecta of Roseman, Donahue, and a third executive might dissuade head coaching candidates who are looking for some degree of roster control, it might also entice candidates looking for a clear separation/structure of responsibilities.

Because Donahoe’s background is in scouting, and Roseman’s in administration/salary cap, the Eagles won’t be forced to find an executive to shoehorn into either department. Rather, it seems as though the club will be able to look for the best overall candidate, perhaps someone who could as a go-between for the two decision-makers.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/15

For the final time in 2015, let’s take a look at the today’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • With Johnny Manziel banged up, the Browns announced that they’ve signed fellow quarterback Pat Devlin, who spent the final preseason game of 2015 on Cleveland’s roster. Austin Davis will start Sunday’s contest as Manziel deals with a concussion, and Devlin will presumably act as the backup. Linebacker Jayson DiManche was waived in a corresponding move.
  • The Giants announced that they’ve placed linebacker J.T. Thomas (ankle) and long snapper Danny Aiken (thumb) on injured reserve, ending both their seasons. In their stead, New York has elevated linebacker Nico Johnson from its practice squad, while signing free agent long snapper Tyler Ott.

Rams Place Nick Fairley On IR, Claim Troy Hill

The Rams have made several roster moves in advance of their regular season finale against the 49ers, including placing two defensive lineman – Nick Fairley and Doug Worthington – on injured reserve, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com (Twitter link). To fill those two roster spots, St. Louis claimed cornerback Troy Hill off waivers from the Patriots (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN) and promoted running back Malcolm Brown from its practice squad (Twitter link via Wagoner).

Fairley, the most high-profile name of the bunch, was expected to secure a hefty contract last offseason after a solid contract year with the Lions, but ultimately inked a one-year pact to join the Rams. The 27-year-old had played in all 15 games this season, seeing time as a rotational lineman, playing on slightly less than 40% of the club’s defensive snaps. Still young and productive (he graded as the league’s No. 24 interior lineman per Pro Football Focus), Fairley shouldn’t have any trouble landing another deal this spring.

Despite being a year older than Fairley, Worthington has far less NFL experience, having played in just eight career games. He’s bounced around quite a bit this year, spending time on the Rams’ practice squad before being activated prior to Week 15. The Ohio State product saw just 53 snaps on the year, but St. Louis does control his rights for 2016, so there’s a chance he could return.

Speaking of well-traveled players, Hill now joins his third organization in less than a month. Signed by the Bengals an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, Hill was waived earlier this month by Cincinnati only to be claimed by the Patriots, who subsequently cut ties earlier this week. An unheralded favorite of the scouting community, Hill has actually landed in a good space, as the Rams could use secondary depth with both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson headed to free agency.

Like Hill, Brown was a 2015 undrafted free agent, having signed with St. Louis after his college career at Texas came to an end. He’s spent the entire season on the Rams’ practice squad, and with Todd Gurely nursing a foot injury, Brown has an outside chance to contribute during Week 17.

Chiefs Place De’Anthony Thomas On NFI List

3:59pm: Thomas has actually been placed on the reserve/non-football illness list, rather than IR, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The effect is the same – Thomas is no longer on the Chiefs’ roster – but the designation suggested he’s dealing with more than just a football injury.

3:51pm: Having already missed five games due to a concussion, Chiefs return specialist De’Anthony Thomas won’t be back on the field for the team this season. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Kansas City placed Thomas on the injured reserve list, ending his year.

Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2014, was the club’s primary punt returner in the first half of the season, and handled the occasional kickoff as well. The Oregon product, who turns 23 next week, also saw some action on offense, with 174 total yards and two touchdowns on 17 receptions and nine carries. Wide receiver Frankie Hammond has taken over the punt-return duties in Thomas’ absence.

When the Chiefs officially announce the move, it figures to come with a corresponding addition to fill the 53-man roster.

Community Tailgate: Chip Kelly’s Future

As the NFL regular season nears its end, there are plenty of topics and storylines to discuss, and PFR’s Community Tailgate is designed to address those stories. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

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While the timing of the Eagles’ dismissal of Chip Kelly was surprising, it gave the team the opportunity to get a head start on its search for a new head coach, and it gave Kelly a chance to begin looking for work. There’s no pressure for Kelly to get a new job immediately, since he’s still owed more than $12MM for the last two years on his contract with the Eagles. But it sounds like he’ll explore some options this winter.

As we saw a year ago, when coaches like Rex Ryan and John Fox immediately found new head coaching jobs after being let go by NFL teams, a fired head coach doesn’t necessarily have to wait long for a new opportunity. This may be particularly true of Kelly, since a team interested in his services could easily convince itself that as long as he has a talented quarterback to work with, and doesn’t get full control of personnel decisions, he could have more success than he did in Philadelphia.

So what’s next for Kelly? Given the presence of Marcus Mariota in Tennessee, the Titans have obviously been the most-cited possible destination for the former Oregon head coach, and Kelly reportedly has interest in that position. But the Dolphins, Browns, 49ers, and Colts have also been brought up as potential landing spots, and there may be even more teams in the market for a new head coach this winter.

Kelly has said he wants to remain in the NFL, rather than returning to college, but not everyone is confident that’s the case, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. Plus, if all the NFL teams looking for a new head coach in the coming weeks decide to go in another direction, Kelly would have a decision to make — would he be willing to consider a role as a club’s offensive coordinator, or would he rather take a year off and reassess his options down the road?

What do you think? Is Kelly to Tennessee a foregone conclusion, or will the Titans opt for someone else? What do you expect Kelly’s next step to be? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts!

Colts Not Expected To Retain Chuck Pagano

3:26pm: Colts owner Jim Irsay issued a statement this afternoon, tweeting, “As of today, no decision has been made with respect to any structural changes within the Colts organization for 2016 and beyond.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Pagano – or Grigson – won’t be let go next week, but it’s a reminder that nothing is official yet.

2:37pm: This weekend’s game against the Titans will likely be Chuck Pagano‘s last as the Colts’ head coach, according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com, who reports that Indianapolis isn’t expected to bring back Pagano for the 2016 season (Twitter link). Even taking account that they were without Andrew Luck for about half the season, the Colts have underachieved this year, so Pagano’s ouster would come as no surprise.

Although the Colts are planning to dismiss Pagano, it’s not yet clear what the future holds for general manager Ryan Grigson. According to Wells (Twitter link), Grigson is expected to remain with the team at least through the search for a new head coach, but there’s no guarantee he’ll keep his job beyond that, despite his strong relationship with owner Jim Irsay.

Having to find a new GM as well as new head coach may result in the Colts missing out on some head coaching candidates while they focus on hiring a GM, but it still seems unusual that the club might allow Grigson to help find a coach, only to part ways with him afterward. Generally, a new general manager prefers to bring in his own head coach.

As Wells wrote earlier today, the relationship between Pagano and Grigson has deteriorated this year. Sources tell Wells that the two men have had little communication this season, with one source describing their relationship as “toxic.”

After finishing with an 11-5 record and an AFC South crown for three straight seasons, the Colts entered 2015 with Super Bowl aspirations, but took a significant step backward. At 7-8, Indianapolis is an extreme long shot to win the division again this year.

While the Colts’ struggles could be attributed, at least in part, to injuries and questionable roster construction, Pagano was already under pressure to win heading into the year, with the team offering him only a one-year extension rather than any sort of longer-team deal — he turned down that offer. Pagano holds a 40-23 record during his four years in Indianapolis, which includes the time he missed in 2012 due to cancer treatments.