A.Q. Shipley

HC/GM Rumors: Lynn, Harbaugh, Bears

Three head coaches and two GMs have already been fired this season, and there will be more dismissals to come. We learned this morning that Eagles HC Doug Pederson is on the hot seat, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Chargers HC Anthony Lynn is in danger of losing his job as well.

The Bolts gave Lynn a modest vote of confidence this offseason by handing him a one-year extension through 2021, but despite the emergence of rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert, Lynn’s squad has limped to a 3-8 record. Several of those losses have been of the heartbreaking variety that Chargers fans have become accustomed to, and Lynn’s in-game decisions have been called into question.

The 51-year-old is highly-regarded in the Chargers’ building, and he did lead his club to a 12-4 record two seasons ago. If he does get fired, he probably won’t have a difficult time finding another HC gig.

Now for more from the HC/GM rumor mill:

  • Jim Harbaugh‘s days with the University of Michigan appear to be numbered, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says the former 49ers HC is eyeing an NFL return. Florio adds that a number of clubs are already “doing their homework” on Harbaugh, who could be one of a number of prominent college coaches looking to make a leap to the pros.
  • A few weeks ago, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports said the Bears “could” move on from HC Matt Nagy at season’s end. Now, La Canfora says it’s more likely than not that Nagy will be ousted and that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be Chicago’s top choice for Nagy’s replacement.
  • Although Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has drawn plenty of interest and is expected to get his first HC job this offseason, Kansas City quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Mike Kafka is also a name to watch, per La Canfora. We knew that the Eagles were interested in Kafka as an OC last offseason, and JLC says the 33-year-old former QB also had the opportunity to take a head coaching interview. Kafka declined, as he wanted to continue to learn under Andy Reid, but he will be a top target for HC and OC openings in 2021.
  • As far as GM jobs go, former Giants general manager Jerry Reese is expected to draw interest for the Lions‘ GM opening, as La Canfora writes. Reese, who was fired by Big Blue in 2017, wants to return to an NFL front office and has the support from advisors to the Ford family (including Ernie Accorsi, whom Reese succeeded as Giants GM in 2007).
  • The Texans are expected to interview former Chiefs and Browns GM John Dorsey, according to La Canfora. Dorsey was fired by Cleveland at the end of last season, but it would be fair to blame more of the Browns’ disappointing 2019 campaign on former head coach Freddie Kitchens than on Dorsey. After all, Cleveland is now poised for a playoff berth with a roster that Dorsey largely constructed, and Dorsey also has ties to Bieniemy, who has been heavily connected to Houston’s HC job.
  • An unfortunate neck injury may have brought an end to A.Q. Shipley‘s playing career, but he will get the chance to join the Buccaneers‘ coaching staff, as Carmen Vitali of the team’s official website writes. Shipley has long been a favorite of Tampa HC Bruce Arians, who believes the veteran center has all the makings of an excellent coach.

Bucs’ A.Q. Shipley To Retire?

Buccaneers center A.Q. Shipley is done for the year after injuring his neck. It’s especially serious and it appears to be a career-ender, according to head coach Bruce Arians. The Bucs placed Shipley on IR Friday.

I feel bad because I love A.Q,” Arians told SiriusXM. “He’s one of my favorite players of all time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”

Shipley entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Steelers in 2009, but he didn’t make his regular-season debut until 2012 when he hooked on with the Colts. After that, he spent a year with the Ravens and returned to Indy before joining the Cardinals in 2015.

Shipley’s best seasons came under Arians, with Pro Football Focus grading him as one of the game’s top centers during the Cards’ 13-3 season in 2015. Last year, PFF assigned him just the 29th overall grade among snappers, a sign that his 2018 ACL tear had slowed him down. Still, Arians was happy to bring him to the Bucs, where Ali Marpet‘s injury recently opened a starting spot for him.

After 110 career games played, Arians sees the unfortunate injury as the start of Shipley’s coaching career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucs Notes: Brown, David, Mickens

Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards in his Tampa Bay debut last week, a shocking 38-3 defeat to the Saints. And while he tries to focus on returning to form on the field, his ongoing civil case continues to evolve. Per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Britney Taylor, who has sued Brown for sexual assault and rape, has filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint to include a claim for punitive damages (Twitter link).

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details, Taylor filed a three-page affidavit along with the motion reiterating her allegations. She avers that in June 2017, Brown masturbated in her presence and ejaculated on her back without her knowledge or consent, and that he raped her less than a year later.

The trial is presently set for December, but it is likely that it will be postponed, which means that Brown will be available for Tampa Bay through the end of the season and into the playoffs. However, the league has consistently maintained that it will suspend Brown again for any evidence that comes to light as a result of the litigation, and if a jury ultimately finds that Brown committed the offenses that Taylor alleges, the NFL will almost certainly levy additional punishment. But by that time, the Bucs may no longer be interested in Brown’s services.

Now for more on the Bucs:

  • Tampa’s loss to the Saints has triggered a shakeup to the team’s O-line. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was first to report (via Twitter), the club is shifting Ryan Jensen from center to left guard, while A.Q. Shipley — a longtime favorite of HC Bruce Arians — will get the nod at center. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, there was significant miscommunication last week between LT Donovan Smith and LG Joe Haeg, which led to the change. Regular LG Ali Marpet is still sidelined with a concussion.
  • The Bucs were said to be exploring an extension for LB Lavonte David this summer, and the last we heard, the two sides had not made much progress. Greg Auman of The Athletic says both player and team still want to continue their relationship, but with a number of players eligible for free agency this offseason, Tampa cannot just write a blank check (Twitter link).
  • Return specialist Jaydon Mickens was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, but it sounds like he was in contact with someone who tested positive and did not test positive himself. Mickens took to Instagram to say “I ain’t hurt. Ain’t nothing wrong with me. If you don’t understand why I ain’t playing, just go look it up. It’s some bulls—. But look, we’re about to go ahead and win this game” (h/t Jenna Laine of ESPN.com on Twitter). Assuming he did not test positive, Mickens could be back on the field next week.
  • DC Todd Bowles has drawn rave reviews for his work with the Bucs’ defense, and for good reason. His unit ranked sixth in defensive efficiency in 2019 and is currently the top defense in the league in that metric for 2020, despite last week’s blowout loss. Although Bowles was ousted as the Jets’ HC following the 2018 season, league-wide respect for his abilities did not diminish, and as Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes, there were eight teams interested in his services before he joined the Bucs. If his defenses continue performing at a high level, he could get another crack as a head coach in the near future.

Buccaneers To Sign C A.Q. Shipley

The Buccaneers are looking into one of Bruce Arians‘ former players for offensive line depth. They are hosting longtime Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley on a visit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The team has moved fast, having agreed to terms with the veteran center, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Shipley played for three of the Cards’ Arians-led teams, landing in Arizona in 2015 and remaining on the team during Steve Wilks‘ season and Kliff Kingsbury‘s first at the helm. This marks the first piece of offseason news regarding the veteran lineman.

This will be Shipley’s age-34 season. While the former seventh-round pick made his regular-season debut in 2012, he entered the NFL as a 2009 draftee. He has started 70 career games, including 16 last season.

Shipley’s best seasons came under Arians, with Pro Football Focus grading him as one of the game’s top centers during the Cards’ 13-3 season in 2015. Last season, however, PFF assigned him the 29th overall grade among snappers. The former Steelers draftee was, however, coming off an ACL tear — one that sidelined him throughout the 2018 campaign. Arians was with Pittsburgh when the franchise drafted Shipley 11 years ago.

Still, Tampa Bay did not previously possess much in the way of interior-line depth, featuring a host of UDFAs behind its starters. Ryan Jensen is set to enter his third season as the Bucs’ starting center.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Foles, Driskel, Butt, Cardinals

After a rough year with the 2015 Rams, Nick Foles nearly retired. That turned out to provide astonishing benefit to the Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII thanks largely to Foles’ virtuoso performance. But going into the 2017 season, Foles had retirement on his mind again. Injuries at the time prompted Foles to inform at least one Eagles teammate, Brandon Graham, he planned to retire at season’s end (video link via ESPN.com’s Tim McManus). Fortunes changed for the 30-year-old passer, who piloted four playoff wins since considering another early NFL exit. The Jaguars guaranteed him $50MM in March on a four-year, $88MM contract. This will be Foles’ eighth NFL season.

Ahead of preseason Week 2, here is the NFL’s latest:

  • Jeff Driskel is not a lock to make the Bengals‘ 53-man roster, with fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley progressing toward the QB2 role. On Tuesday, the team experimented with its 2018 backup as a wide receiver, Jay Morrison of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Driskel would still prefer to play quarterback, but Finley will work with Cincinnati’s second-stringers in the team’s second preseason game. Zac Taylor approached Driskel on Tuesday about taking reps at receiver, per Morrison. Driskel played quarterback at Florida and Louisiana Tech; he was also a late-round Red Sox draft pick in 2013. He rushed for 130 yards last season (5.2 per scramble).
  • Attempting to return to the Broncos‘ 53-man roster after a third ACL tear, Jake Butt spent most of camp sidelined because of another setback. But he made it back to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Despite Austin Fort‘s season-ending injury, the Broncos still have three other tight ends — Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli. But the latter, a 2018 fifth-rounder who missed all of last season, worked as an H-back/fullback on Tuesday. Vic Fangio said Fumagalli could fit in there while Andy Janovich recovers from a pectoral injury. This would be a way for the Broncos to roster four tight ends.
  • Despite A.Q. Shipley and Mason Cole listed as co-starters at center on the Cardinals‘ depth chart, the former is expected to earn his job back. The 33-year-old is a “virtual lock” to be Arizona’s first-string snapper in Week 1, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Cole has also worked at guard, pointing to an interior swing role for the team’s 2018 starting center. Shipley, the Cards’ center starter from 2015-17, missed all of last season due to an ACL tear but was given a one-year, $1.6MM extension during his recovery.
  • Browns defensive end Chad Thomas dodged a scare in a recent practice. The second-year defender was carted off the Berea, Ohio, practice field Monday and hospitalized. But the Miami product was quickly released and diagnosed with a neck sprain.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver Bryant Mitchell was not as fortunate. He suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon in the team’s preseason opener, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. A three-year Edmonton Eskimo, who posted 867 receiving yards in 2018, Mitchell caught on with the Bucs in May.

NFC Rumors: Cowboys, Cardinals, Easley

Tyrone Crawford spent his 2017 season at defensive end, but the veteran Cowboys lineman’s been known to move around. The team is asking him to do so again. The Cowboys are shifting Crawford back to defensive tackle, a role he mostly played from 2014-15 before being largely stationed at end the past two seasons. Injuries to inside players, David Irving‘s suspension and the team having amassed more depth at end prompted the move, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. Crawford’s working as a starter alongside nose tackle Antwaun Woods.

This move has opened the door for an interesting setup at end. Hill adds Randy Gregory is now working with the first team across from DeMarcus Lawrence. Recently fully reinstated, Gregory has never started an NFL game and has only played in two contests since the 2015 season. Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong are serving as Dallas’ backup ends presently, per Hill. While it’s not a lock Gregory will be a starter in Week 1, it could well be headed that way. Irving’s return from suspension would give the Cowboys the kind of depth they haven’t possessed up front in years.

Here’s the latest from Dallas, along with a couple of other NFC cities as these teams prepare for their dress-rehearsal preseason games.

  • The most likely scenario for Travis Frederick is a stay on injured reserve to start the season, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News writes. He would then be eligible to return for the final eight games of the season, in the event he’s able to do so. The Cowboys are not ready to concede that their All-Pro center will be IR-bound yet, and Moore adds they’re likely unwilling to face the reality Frederick likely won’t be at his best if/when he does return in 2018. Joe Looney is now Dallas’ starting center, and the Cowboys will need to determine soon if they are going to look for outside help at the position. There isn’t much center help of note available, however.
  • A defensive lineman throughout his career, Dominique Easley is now working as a standup outside linebacker for the Rams. Wade Phillips confirmed the move, one made shortly after the team activated the fifth-year defender off the PUP list Monday. This doesn’t look to be an experiment, either. “I think this gives him a little more freedom to utilize his abilities. We even played Mario Williams at outside ‘backer,” Phillips said, via Rams.com, of his former Houston pupil. “(Easley is) is a real strong player can play that position and, again, not have as much wear and tear.” Easley’s suffered three ACL tears, the most recent shelving him last season. The former first-round pick’s move to outside linebacker also adds a higher-profile player to a Rams position group that doesn’t feature many big names.
  • A.Q. Shipley‘s Cardinals extension won’t include much new money. The veteran center can make $2MM in 2019, including incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Shipley’s making $1.5MM in base salary this season. These figures are fairly modest for a player who’s started all 32 Cards games since the beginning of the 2016 season, but Shipley will be 33 next year and just tore an ACL.

Cardinals Extend C A.Q. Shipley Through 2019

The Cardinals have signed center A.Q. Shipley to a one-year extension through the 2019 season, the club announced today. Shipley is currently on injured reserve and will miss the upcoming campaign after tearing his ACL earlier this month.

Arizona’s decision to extend Shipley while he’s injury may seem curious at first glance, but the deal likely doesn’t contain much — if any — guaranteed money, so there’s probably little risk for general manager Steve Keim & Co. Shipley originally re-signed with the Cardinals on a two-year pact in March 2017, and that contract will pay him a base salary of $1.5MM in 2018.

With Shipley sidelined, the Cardinals plan to use third-round rookie Mason Cole at center. If Cole establishes himself at the pivot in 2018, Shipley would likely return next season as a reserve at all three interior line spots. But if Cole doesn’t play well in his first NFL go-round, Shipley could conceivably compete to start again next year.

Shipley, 32, has been with Arizona since 2015 but didn’t become the team’s full-time starter until 2016. He started all 32 games over the past two season, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 14 center in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Lose A.Q. Shipley For Season

Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley has a torn ACL, head coach Steve Wilks told reporters on Monday. The Cardinals placed Shipley on season-ending IR on Tuesday, allowing them to add another player in his stead. 

Shipley, 32, has been with the Cardinals since 2015 and has started in every game for them over the past two seasons. The injury may lead the team to push rookie interior lineman Mason Cole into the starting job, or consider roster hopefuls Evan Boehm or Josh Allen. Alternatively, they may explore the open market, but there aren’t a ton of established centers left out there.

Shipley re-signed with Arizona on a two-year, $3.5MM deal in March of last year, meaning that he will be a free agent in the spring of 2019. Advanced metrics are a bit tricky when it comes to centers, but for what it’s worth, he graded as the league’s No. 14 center in 2016 and placed 28th last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Maclin, Chiefs, 49ers, Cards

The news of Jeremy Maclin‘s release on Friday surprised much of the NFL world, and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was among those blindsided by the decision, as he tells Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star“Shocked,” Smith said of Maclin’s departure. “Jeremy is a really good friend, an amazing teammate, so still kind of just processing that he’s not going to be in there with us, a guy that’s done a lot for us the last two years, a guy I’ve grown really close to.” Maclin, 29, averaged 66 receptions, 812 yards, and five touchdowns in two seasons catching passes from Smith.

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

  • Now that Maclin is a free agent, he could be a consideration for the 49ers, as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes. San Francisco invested in one experienced wideout (Pierre Garcon) this offseason, but the rest of their receiving corps is relatively uninspiring. Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Bruce Ellington, Aldrick Robinson, and rookie Trent Taylor are among the 49ers’ other options at receiver. From a talent standpoint, Maclin would represent a clear upgrade, but it’s unclear if he prefers to sign on with a contending team. In the midst of a rebuild, San Francisco doesn’t figure to be overly competitive in 2017, meaning Maclin could look to latch on with a club closer to earning a postseason berth.
  • Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley underwent core muscle surgery three weeks ago, and while he figures to miss organized team activities, Shipley will be ready for training camp, reports Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The 31-year-old Shipley, who re-signed with Arizona on a two-year, $3.5MM deal in March, graded as the league’s No. 14 center in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. Reserve interior lineman Cole Toner is currently working as the Cardinals’ center in Shipley’s absence, per Somers.
  • Former Villanova linebacker Austin Calitro worked out for the Falcons and Chiefs this week, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Calitro, who went undrafted earlier this year, signed with the Jets in May but lasted only 10 days on their roster. During his senior collegiate season, Calitro registered 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three passes defensed.

West Notes: Cardinals, Joeckel, Raiders

Let’s take a quick swing around the league’s west divisions:

  • We learned earlier today that Tony Jefferson‘s new deal with the Ravens will pay him up to $37MM over four years. We also heard reports in recent days that the Browns and possibly the Jets offered him slightly more money, but that he spurned those offers to sign with Baltimore. As Andy Benoit of TheMMQB writes in a detailed piece on Jefferson’s free agent journey, Jefferson’s former team, the Cardinals, made him an initial “low-ball” offer of three years, $12MM, before upping their proposal to four years and $24MM, still well short of the winning bid.
  • Mike Jurecki of FoxSports910 passes along some contract details on two of the Cardinals‘ recent signings (Twitter links). Jurecki reports that safety Antoine Bethea‘s new three-year deal will pay him yearly base salaries of $2MM, $3MM, and $3MM, while A.Q. Shipley‘s new two-year pact is worth a total of $3.5MM with base salaries of $775K and $1.5MM, $725K in guarantees, and $250K in roster bonuses for 2017 and 2018.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s new one-year deal with the Seahawks will pay him a fully-guaranteed $7MM, with an additional $1MM available in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Robbie Gould‘s new two-year pact with the 49ers is worth a total of $4MM, with $1MM fully guaranteed.
  • The Raiders will likely not have a lease agreement for a proposed Las Vegas stadium in place before the league owners meet later this month, a meeting during which they could approve the team’s relocation bid. However, as noted in a piece from the Associated Press, the absence of a finalized lease agreement does not mean the league owners will be precluded from voting on the relocation proposal. Instead, they could conditionally approve the relocation as long as the lease adequately addresses issues that are important to the league.
  • The Raiders have made a few changes to their coaching staff, as Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com writes. Last season’s assistant secondary coach, Rod Woodson, will coach cornerbacks, as he did previously, and Brent Vieselmeyer, who was assistant linebackers coach last year, will coach the safeties in 2017. Meanwhile, Travis Smith has been promoted from quality control to outside linebackers coach, and Nick Holz is now the assistant receivers coach. Nate Tice, son of offensive line coach Mike Tice, is the offensive quality control coach.
  • We learned earlier today that the Broncos and OT Donald Stephenson have agreed to a restructured deal.