Month: July 2018

Extra Points: Manning, Hayne, Raiders, Eagles

The 49ers tried to lean on then-defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s familiarity with Peyton Manning as a recruitment tool when they, the Titans and Broncos were finalists for the then-free agent’s services, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Fangio, the Bears’ current DC and then the 49ers’ defensive boss, was the Colts’ defensive coordinator under Jim Mora from 1999-01 and recalled the back-and-forths he had with the wunderkind quarterback during their time in Indianapolis. The two would verbally jostle in practices if Manning felt the defense was playing the wrong coverage, and Fangio would counter that the practices weren’t geared only to Manning success.

Fangio thought a 49ers talented defense that had the team on the cusp of Super Bowl XLVI the season prior would be the then-36-year-old quarterback’s ticket to another championship.

When we were talking to him about coming to the 49ers,” Fangio told Branch, “I told him we’d let him win in practice if he signed.”

Manning will play in the 49ers’ stadium Sunday, doing so in a non-preseason setting for the first time since since joining the Broncos.

Here’s the latest from around the league as the Pro Bowl’s conclusion leaves just one game remaining in the 2015 season.

  • Trent Baalke still sees a place for ex-rugby standout Jarryd Hayne on the 49ers even after a regime change, Michael Chammas of the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald reports. “[Chip Kelly is] excited to get his hands on him, the whole coaching staff is. We’ll find out in short order who fits and who doesn’t fit,” Baalke told Chammas. The Sydney-based reporter notes Hayne’s 2016 season will determine if he returns to the National Rugby League after that, with the 28-year-old being waived by the 49ers last season and re-signed to the team’s practice squad. “I think that there were enough signs that he was still ways away in respect to development, that we felt there was a good chance he would make it through waivers and we’d be able to put him on our practice,” Baalke said of the soon-to-be-28-year-old running back.
  • Ryan Clady earlier today said he’d be willing to rework his contract to help the Broncos, which would increase his chances of being on the team for a ninth season. Entering his age-30 campaign off of two season-ending injuries in three seasons, Clady intimated to Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press he’s ready for offseason work after undergoing surgery in June 2015, but said the Broncos may want him to skip OTAs to be ready for training camp. A former first-team All-Pro, Clady tore his ACL during OTAs last season, prompting the Broncos to sign current left tackle Ryan Harris as an emergency replacement.
  • The NFL doesn’t see Oakland coming up with a viable stadium plan in the near future, Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets. The Raiders are scouring the Pacific Time Zone for other avenues and haven’t discussed a new stadium since the owners’ meetings Jan. 12.
  • Sam Bradford faces a complex decision on whether to return to the Eagles, and the Texans will be their primary competition, should the seventh-year former No. 1 overall pick reach free agency, the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Paul Domowitch writes the Kelly trade target will depart due to the Texans having a superior defense and Doug Pederson‘s arrival negating the familiarity edge for the Eagles, while John Smallwood notes the Broncos could be in play, should they decide Brock Osweiler won’t be enough to keep them in the Super Bowl conversation. Overall, 11 of the 19 Daily News staffers polled, however, indicated Bradford would be back on the Eagles in ’16.

Levi’s Stadium An Option For Raiders?

The Raiders participated in discussions about sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers, but when former owner Al Davis died in 2011, the notion to have both Bay Area teams as tenants halted.

But experts and stakeholders told Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today reports now would be the time to reconsider this idea, with the Raiders pushing hard for a new stadium in Oakland, or entertaining discussions with Las Vegas, San Diego, and waiting on the Chargers to officially decide on Los Angeles.

It certainly was not (Davis’) first choice, but he did understand the economic efficiency of sharing a building,” former Raiders chief executive Amy Trask told Schrotenboer. “… Al was not as adamantly against it as is current ownership. My conversations with Al went something like this: I would update him on my discussions with the 49ers, and he would immediately say, ‘Hey, I’m not sharing that stadium.’ And then after a beat or two, he would say, ‘Show me the numbers.'”

Mark Davis and the Raiders’ current power structure do not share Al Davis’ pragmatism when it comes to sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers, but the NFL financially supported the $1.2 billion stadium that’s set to host Super
Bowl 50 on the basis that two teams would play there, USA Today reports. The NFL confirmed it allotted $200MM to assist with Levi’s Stadium’s cost on this condition.

Levi’s Stadium was built to accommodate two home teams,” Jamie Matthews, mayor of Santa Clara and chairman of the public stadium authority that owns the stadium, told USA Today. “We already have the locker rooms built for two home teams. We set up the LED lighting so they could change the whole feel of the stadium with the flick of a switch. All the environmental work on it has been completed, and all the work permits. If we had a second team, they could move in tomorrow.”

This would seem a logical solution for the Raiders, who this week discussed playing 2016 on another one-year lease at 50-year-old O.co Coliseum as they’ve done for the past two years. But Mark Davis remains vehemently opposed to sharing the new stadium with the 49ers, and the lack of progress between these two sides led the Raiders to enter the Carson, Calif.-based project with the Chargers, USA Today notes. With that no longer being a viable avenue, waiting out the Chargers seems to be the franchise’s next step.

One sticking point are the stadium’s red seats, but that’s a negotiable item, Schrotenboer writes. Another is the Raiders being a subtenant of the 49ers’, which would also be the case in Inglewood.

A second team joining the 49ers would mean the teams splitting the stadium’s rent, which is set to increase from only $24MM to $25MM for this coming season, USA Today reports. City records also note the 49ers collected more than $83MM in revenue, with only 10% of that going to the stadium authority to assist with the structure’s cost, per Schrotenboer.

I think the Raiders really want to do their own thing,” sports consultant Mark Ganis told USA Today. “They want their own stadium in the East Bay, but as a free agent they have a lot of places they can go.”

The Raiders and the city of Oakland have not engaged in formal discussions on a new Bay Area stadium since the NFL owners’ meetings in Houston earlier this month.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

NFC East Rumors: Gettleman, Pederson, Cousins

When Ernie Accorsi retired as the Giants‘ GM after the 2006 season, he pushed hardest for Jerry Reese to become his successor despite Dave Gettleman‘s success within the organization, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes.

Reese, who coordinated the draft for Big Blue at the time, and salary cap expert Kevin Abrams joined Gettleman as the top in-house candidates to succeed Accorsi. Reese is now entering his 10th season as the Giants’ GM.

And I felt sorry for Dave on the thing, I don’t think it was an easy decision for John Mara or the Tischs,’’ Accorsi told media, including Schwartz. “When Jerry got it, I could tell Dave was down. I said to him ‘Look, I have no idea if I’m ever going to be able to deliver on this, but if I possibly can take care of you, I will.”

Accorsi helped the now-64-year-old Gettleman ascend to the Panthers’ GM position as a consultant. Gettleman, per Schwartz, helped the Giants in free agency when they signed Super Bowl XLII bastions Plaxico Burress, Antonio Pierce and others. Gettleman laid the groundwork for Pierce, an outside linebacker mostly in Washington, to move to the middle full-time in New York.

The Browns passed over Gettleman twice, in 2009 and 2010, when they hired George Kokinis and Mike Holmgren, respectively, over Accorsi’s recommendation, while the Chiefs hired Scott Pioli over Gettleman in 2009 as well.

Following these shortcomings, Gettleman, then the Giants’ director of pro player personnel, informed Mara he sought to retreat into a part-time role before getting the Panthers’ job in 2013.

Here is the latest coming out of NFC East cities.

  • Alex Spiro, the attorney for Jay Bromley, doesn’t expect the Giants defensive tackle to be charged (Twitter links via Jordan Raanan of NJ.com) after a woman said he attempted to rape her. The 23-year-old Bromley has not been arrested in connection with Saturday morning’s alleged incident.
  • Doug Pederson‘s proactive approach regarding keeping the Eagles‘ talented young players comes in contrast to Chip Kelly‘s more volatile method on display last season, Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com writes. Frank notes Pederson’s straight-forward style has helped stabilize the organization thus far after Kelly’s final days put staffers on edge, given the seismic moves he’d made. The new 49ers coach’s reluctance to compromise and employing an overmatched staff helped key his dismissal from Philadelphia, Frank writes.
  • The 49ers offered Pederson an assistant-coaching position in 2005, but the current Eagles coach turned it down to continue being a high school head coach in Louisiana, Zach Berman of Philly.com writes. Pederson continued to coach at a Shreveport, La., high school for four seasons and told the school’s athletic director he’d only leave if Andy Reid offered him a job in Philadelphia. He extended an offer to Pederson for an offensive quality control job before the 2009 season, leading to seven years of the pair working in tandem in Philadelphia and Kansas City.
  • Kirk Cousins‘ likely extension with Washington should be a four-year pact, John Keim of ESPN.com writes. He cites the majority of quarterback contracts agreed to in the past two offseasons being four-year deals — like those given to Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, or Philip Rivers — along with Cousins proving to be an effective, but not yet a game-changing quarterback, as the reasoning behind the estimation. Keim writes that Robert Griffin III can still be traded if he agrees to redo his fifth-year option ($16.15MM for 2016) but expects him to be released to help make room for Cousins’ deal.
  • Alfred Morris coming back to Washington after the running back put together his career-worst year in 2015 wouldn’t make sense, Keim writes. He also expects the team to bring in a back to compete with the thus-far-inconsistent Matt Jones for No. 1 runner responsibilities.

Calvin Johnson Likely To Retire

6:21pm: The Lions released a statement that doesn’t deny the ESPN.com report but doesn’t close the book on Johnson’s career with the team, either. “Regarding today’s ESPN report, we stand by our statement issued on Jan. 6 regarding Calvin,” the team’s comment reads, according to Tim Twentyman of Lions.com (on Twitter).

The team is standing by its previous stance of Johnson’s retirement not being final, which read, per Twentyman (Twitter links), “We obviously have profound respect for Calvin and certainly understand and appreciate his decision to give proper thought and consideration to his football future.”

4:22pm: Lions receiver Calvin Johnson told a group of family and friends prior to last season that 2015 would be his final year in the NFL, and he relayed that same sentiment to head coach Jim Caldwell following the conclusion of the regular season, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Detroit management has not given up hope that Johnson will change his mind, but a person close to Johnson said the receiver is “pretty content with his decision,” per Schefter.Calvin Johnson

After Johnson told Caldwell of his plans, the Lions head coach reportedly asked Johnson to take his time to mull over the decision, and out of respect for Caldwell, Johnson did just that, according to Schefter. Only two of of Johnson’s teammates — quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebacker Stephen Tulloch — were told of Johnson’s retirement thoughts prior to the 2015 season, and they were asked to keep the decision under wraps. No one else in the Lions organization learned of Johnson’s aims until the end of the season.

[RELATED: Lions to retain Jim Caldwell as head coach]

When the rest of the franchise learned of Johnson’s intentions, reports did start to leak out, and an early January report indicated Johnson was indeed mulling hanging up his cleats. Johnson downplayed the specifics of that report, however, indicating that he was still thinking through his options. “Like many players at this stage of their career, I am currently evaluating options for my future,” Johnson said at the time. “I would expect to have a decision regarding this matter in the not-too-distant future.”

According to Schefter, the wear and tear of nine seasons in the NFL has done a number on Johnson, who has been dealing with nagging ankle injuries and overall soreness (he’s also deal with finger issues in recent years). Megatron has been remarkably durable — he’s missed just five games of the past five seasons — but heading into his age-31 season, it seems that physical ailments have taken their toll.

If Johnson does retire, he will owe the Lions $3.2MM in signing bonus money, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes (Twitter link). Moreover, Detroit will save more than $11MM on its 2016 salary cap if Johnson hangs it up. Even if he does reverse course and decide to play another year, Johnson and the club might have to rework his current deal, and his cap charge is set to balloon to more than $24MM next season.

[RELATED: Lions to retain Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator]

Since leading the NFL with 122 receptions and 1,964 yards in 2012, Johnson has seen his production decline a little. Still, he continued to be one of the league’s more productive pass catchers in 2015, with 88 catches, 1,214 yards, and nine touchdowns. Johnson is the Lions’ all-time leader in receptions (731) receiving yards (11,619) and receiving touchdowns (83), tweets Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.

As of last week, new Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he had not spoken to Johnson about his future, though Quinn did note that he hoped to have a resolution before the start of free agency in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Tannehill, Campbell, Whaley

With the Senior Bowl wrapped up and all four AFC East teams in offseason mode as Super Bowl 50 nears, let’s look at the latest news coming out of the division, starting with the Dolphins.

  • Ryan Tannehill‘s inconsistency notwithstanding, Mike Tannenbaum‘s seen enough from the fifth-year quarterback to avoid spending a draft pick or signing a free agent for legitimate competition, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. This isn’t too surprising. Miami gave Tannehill $77MM in new money last May to be their franchise quarterback, and ending a year that began with playoff expectations at 6-10, the team has other pressing needs.
  • The Dolphins have quite a few issues to sort out over the coming offseason, but chief among them will be overhauling their linebacking unit, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Kelvin Sheppard proved enough at middle linebacker, but per Salguero, the club is aware that it needs an upgrade at that spot. Further, Miami is likely to replace one of its two outside linebackers, with Koa Misi being the most obvious candidate to be cut given his 2016 cap charge of roughly $4.88MM (the Dolphins could save $4.3MM by making him a post-June 1 release). For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded Misi as the highest of Miami’s three ‘backers (No. 21), while Jelani Jenkins and Sheppard rated Nos. 38 and 84, respectively, among 97 qualifiers.
  • Although interim coach Dan Campbell reportedly did not take losing out to Adam Gase with the Dolphins well, the team’s interim coach last season still could have joined Gase’s staff but instead chose to join the Saints’ staff as assistant head coach/tight ends coach, Jackson writes. The Dolphins, however, prevented multiple teams from hiring special teams coach Darren Rizzi.
  • The Bears denied outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt to speak with Gase about becoming the Dolphins’ defensive line coach, Jackson reports, but Hurtt coming to Miami once his contract expires after this season could still be on the table. A former Miami Hurricanes assistant, Hurtt would be an attractive option, per Jackson, if the Fins’ front falters under Terrell Williams, who got the job after Chicago chose to block Hurtt’s path.
  • One GM told Lisa Wilson of the Buffalo News the Bills are trapped in “8-8 limbo” without certainty at quarterback and little money to spend this offseason. Another informed the reporter he applauded the team’s patience regarding Doug Whaley and resisting the urge to start over as many teams do in the Bills’ situation. Owners of the longest NFL playoff drought, the Bills are currently $3.4MM over the salary cap, per OverTheCap, but have strung together their most wins in a two-year span (17) since 1999-2000, the former season representing Buffalo’s last playoff advancement. Tyrod Taylor will also only count $3.13MM against the Bills’ cap next season.
  • Whaley also justified bringing in embattled veteran DC Rob Ryan as an assistant to help enhance Rex Ryan‘s productivity while helping unite the brothers against their critics. “If you look at it, Rob and Rex, they’ve had some troubles,” Whaley told media, including Wilson. “Their name is kind of like, ‘Hey, they’re the Ryans, what happened to their defense?’ So why not bring in your brother and try to reclaim that name? That’s the way I look at it. And who’s going to have your back more than your brother? I think it’s a positive. I know it’s a positive. Everybody in the building feels it’s a positive. It’s a positive for Rex, too. It can help him expand his horizons as the head coach and get into some other things.”

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report

PFR Originals: 1/24/16 – 1/31/16

The original content and analysis produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

  • In our latest Community Tailgate post, we asked: Who’s going to win Super Bowl 50? The discussion seems to be pretty evenly divided between the Broncos and Panthers so far, so jump in and give your opinion! And be sure to look out for future Community Tailgates, where we’ll post a topic for discussion and ask for your thoughts in the comments section.
  • Luke Adams took a look at the longest-tenured NFL coaches, and Bill Belichick still leads the way, having been in charge of the Patriots since 2000. Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, and Mike Tomlin round out the top five.
  • Luke also went over the latest news in the league’s ongoing offensive and defensive coordinator searches.
  • Zach Links rounded up the best of the football blogs in the latest edition of Pigskin Links.

Week In Review: 1/24/16 – 1/31/16

Extended:

Relocation:

Coaching:

Front Office:

Retired:

Other:

Lions Hire Randy Edsall

The Lions have hired former Maryland/UConn head coach Randy Edsall, reports Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com. Edsall, 57, will serve as the director of football research/special projects.Randy Edsall (Vertical)

The role is certainly not a common one among NFL staffs, but according to Twentyman, Edsall will assist in gameday preparation (presumably scouting future opponents, searching for tendencies, etc.), and will also aid in draft and free agency work. Presumably, he’ll act as something of a liaison between the front office and the coaching staff, but I’d assume he’ll primarily work under general manager Bob Quinn, if only because the pair has a professional history — Quinn acted as a graduate assistant under Edsall when the latter was head coach at Connecticut.

[RELATED: Lions hire Kevin Anderson as chief of staff/assistant to the GM]

Quinn, of course, came to Detroit from the Patriots’ scouting staff, and as Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com points out, director of football research, while not an ordinary NFL title, is a position on New England’s staff. Ernie Adams, a confidant of Bill Belichick, has long held the same job with the Patriots, working on in-game strategies and decision-making (Adams was profiled by Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe last year).

Edsall’s coaching experience dates back to 1980, and while most of that time was spent in the college ranks, he did spend a few years in the NFL, acting as the Jaguars defensive backs coach form 1994-97. He’d been the head coach at Maryland since 2014, but was relieved of his duties after posting a 2-4 record to start the 2015 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday Roundup: Hunt, Revis, Lions, Chargers

Eagles senior director of player personnel Tom Donahoe is expected to meet with Steelers pro personnel coordinator Brandon Hunt again today to discuss Philadelphia’s director of player personnel position, according to Geoff Mosher of 975TheFanatic (via Twitter). Mosher adds that Hunt is not high enough on the scouting chain to hold a vice president position like the one Tom Cable held before he was fired at the end of 2014, and the Eagles are still looking for someone with more experience than the 35-year-old Hunt. Per Mosher, the Eagles would prefer someone like Steelers director of football administration Omar Khan, but Mosher does not expect Pittsburgh to allow Khan to interview (all links to Twitter).

Now let’s take a look at some more links from around the league:

  • Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com observes that the Jets could buy themselves some much-needed salary cap relief in 2016 if they were to rework Darrelle Revis‘ contract–and Revis would be open to it–but such a move could really handicap the team in the latter years of Revis’ deal. The Jets can create cap room in other ways–they could release Antonio Cromartie and ask D’Brickashaw Ferguson to take a pay cut, for instance–and they should pursue those options before approaching Revis about a restructure.
  • The Patriots have legitimate interest in Kansas State’s Glenn Gronkowski, Rob Gronkowski‘s younger brother, according to Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News (via Twitter). “Little Gronkowski” practiced at tight end, fullback and H-back this week in preparation for yesterday’s Senior Bowl, and he could be a fit as the Patriots’ second tight end.
  • Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com looks at the to-do list for new Lions GM Bob Quinn, which will include important decisions on extensions for certain members of the team’s impressive 2013 draft class. That class included Ziggy Ansah, Darius Slay, Sam Martin, and Theo Riddick.
  • Now that the Chargers know where they will be playing their home games in 2016, the conversations regarding the team can return, at least to some degree, to football, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gehlken takes a brief look at what the future will hold for the team’s 23 free agents and potential cap casualties.
  • Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will not need foot surgery this offseason, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Clowney finished the 2015 season with 4.5 sacks and 40 tackles with one forced fumble, but he was limited to 13 games and nine starts due to injuries. He missed the team’s playoff contest this year with a sprained foot.

 

Ryan Clady Willing To Rework Contract

Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady is willing to rework his current contract to stay in Denver, according to Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press. Clady, who has spent his entire career in the Mile High City, was one of the most durable players in the league–and also one of the best–before landing on IR in September 2013 with a season-ending Lisfranc injury. He played the entire 2014 campaign but he tore his ACL during OTAs in May 2015 and has missed the entire 2015 season. The Broncos will have appeared in two of the last three Super Bowls, and Clady will have missed both.

In July 2013, the two-time First-Team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $52.5MM contract with the Broncos, and he has seen action in only two games of the subsequent three seasons. He is on the books for a $9.5MM base salary in 2016, which does not include any guarantees, which makes him a prime candidate for a pay cut or restructure. Clady will be just 30 when the 2016 season begins, so he may certainly have a couple more quality seasons left in him, assuming he can overcome his recent spate of injuries.

Given that the Broncos will likely go into 2016 with a young signal-caller, Clady’s presence could be invaluable for the club moving forward. Now that he has publicly declared his willingness to rework his present deal, the Broncos should be in a better position to address some of its top priorities this offseason, including a new contract for Von Miller.

Clady did say that the Broncos have not yet approached him about his contract status, but he expects the team to do so after the season. Said Clady, “I’m definitely willing to talk. I definitely would like to be a lifetime Bronco.” Clady is currently the longest-tenured member of the club.