Anthony Lynn

Fallout From Bills’ Front Office Shakeup

The Bills deciding to trade out of their No. 10 slot, when the Chiefs surrendered their 2018 first-rounder to headline a package that netted them Patrick Mahomes, indicated Doug Whaley was not going to be around much longer, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Buffalo moving down 17 spots — a move the Bills were believed to be pushing for prior to the draft — signaled a long-term plan more than one designed to help an embattled GM’s team win now. (However, Chiefs GM John Dorsey told B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com — Twitter link — Whaley was involved in talks that originated early this week.)

Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com notes the Bills’ chaotic front office situation goes back to 2014, when Terry and Kim Pegula took over and were surprised when Doug Marrone exercised an opt-out option that garnered him $4MM and left the Bills without a coach despite having completed a rare over-.500 season in 2014. The current Jaguars HC’s 9-7 campaign, aided the Patriots resting starters in Week 17 of that season, represents the most the Bills wins since 2004.

La Canfora notes Whaley has not gotten along especially well with any of his coaches, describing less-than-ideal relationships with both Marrone and Rex Ryan, and the one with Sean McDermott did not take off. Bill Polian declined to join the Bills in January of 2015, and La Canfora notes that decision kept Whaley in charge and helped lead to Marrone bolting on his contract.

Now running the show in Buffalo, McDermott was not happy the Patriots plucked Stephon Gilmore in free agency, La Canfora writes. The RFA decisions on Chris Hogan and Mike Gillislee did not help, either. The CBS-based reporter notes some of Pegula’s confidants advised him to fire Whaley years ago. The Bills signed Whaley to an extension last year, however.

A source categorized the Bills’ draft room this weekend as “one of the weirdest three days,” per Breer, due to the fact a leadership component wasn’t entirely present. McDermott, though, was the one who was providing the final say, Breer reports. The first-year HC was given autonomy to remove prospects from the draft board as well. Pegula said today Whaley put together the draft and the organization decided to fire him after the three-day event, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com relays.

Scouts were upset with Ryan’s program last year, Breer notes, adding that Bills coaches felt some of Whaley’s draft decisions — be it the trade-up for Sammy Watkins or selection of injury-risk Shaq Lawson — didn’t fit the schemes they were using. As for Watkins, it’s possible the Bills made his injury situation worse. Breer reports that the wideout’s foot injury was too severe for him to complete walkthroughs, but no one put a stop to his comeback attempt, and the pain worsened as he pushed through it to lead to a two-month shutdown. Watkins returned for the final six games but only cleared 80 receiving yards twice, albeit on a run-centric team. Already rumored to be set to decline Watkins’ fifth-year option, the Bills are probably more likely to go in that direction now that Whaley is gone, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets.

Further complicating things with McDermott: Anthony Lynn was Whaley’s first HC choice, according to Breer, and ownership went with the former Panthers DC — with whom Whaley did not have much of a relationship — while letting Lynn proceed to the Chargers’ job. Tyrod Taylor‘s return on an adjusted deal also went against Whaley’s wishes and was more in line with new OC Rick Dennison‘s. The latter was the Broncos’ OC when the team pursued Taylor in 2015.

As far as the selection of the next GM, the Pegulas might not lean on team president Russ Brandon too much, with Terry Pegula saying today the owners would ask Brandon questions if they believed they need to (Twitter link via Breer). Former Eagles president and Browns CEO Joe Banner understandably expects the new GM to be someone with close ties to McDermott, the longtime exec told Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane could well become a candidate.

Extra Points: Chiefs, Lynn, Draft, Crawford

Andy Reid plans to use Tyreek Hill more next season. After the rookie began the year as mostly a special teams-only presence, he became featured as a frequent part of the Chiefs‘ offense, and Reid wants to increase his involvement.

He was averaging 35 plays a game [in 2016],” Reid said on a SiriusXM NFL Radio appearance (via Alex Marvez of the Sporting News). “Maybe he can double that or at least take it up a couple notches and allow him to get in more in a starting role. … I’d expect him to learn that whole [playbook] by the end of all the OTAs and training camp and then be even more of a threat.”

Hill scored 12 touchdowns and became a unanimous All-Pro selection as a return man. The polarizing speedster emerged as Chiefs’ best No. 2 receiver candidate in years by catching 61 passes for 593 yards. Hill becoming a bigger part of the Chiefs’ offense lessens their need for pass-catching help. During previous Reid years, the team relied on a committee approach to fill that role.

Here’s more from the Chiefs and the rest of the league.

  • Reid addressed Eric Berry‘s status as well, wanting the Chiefs to retain the decorated UFA safety. “We love E.B. I think everybody in our building would ditto that,” Reid said. “If we can get this thing done, that’s obviously a priority in the offseason. It’s been a good marriage.” It would cost the Chiefs nearly $13MM to apply the franchise tag to Berry again, but Tyrann Mathieu‘s $12MM-AAV+ deal raised the bar for safeties since the Chiefs’ last negotiations with Chiefs management. Berry acknowledged earlier this week he believed his agent has spoken with the Chiefs about a deal. Kansas City is projected to possess $4.6MM in cap room but can create over $16MM more by releasing Jamaal Charles and Nick Foles.
  • Prior to the Chargers entering the race, Anthony Lynn saw the Bills as the best opportunity for him. The newest Los Angeles HC was connected to every team in need of a coach, save for the 49ers. “To me, [Buffalo] was the best place for me to be because I knew the personnel, I knew all the people I was working with and I think that was the quickest turnaround,” Lynn said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. Although, after the Chargers became interested, Lynn said he quickly pivoted to their situation. “They have a quarterback; they have key players at every position, at skill positions, and a young, talented defense, I thought that right there was a great opportunity,” he said. “And that’s where I put all my focus, was in that job after the season was over, and thank God it came through.”
  • Senior Bowl executive director and former Browns GM Phil Savage did not speak highly of this year’s quarterback class. “It’s probably not a good year to say, ‘We’ve got to have one,’ ” Savage said, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “You never know, but there’s questions with more guys this year.” Savage isn’t the first to cast doubt on the Deshaun Watson-, DeShone Kizer– and Mitch Trubisky-fronted class. Multiple execs expressed similar sentiments recently.
  • Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford underwent shoulder surgery for the second straight offseason, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Crawford faces an uncertain future as a starter, Hill writes. The veteran lineman, though, cannot be realistically cut this year. The Cowboys, who signed him to a five-year deal in 2015, would be saddled with $10.4MM in dead money.
  • Busy retooling their defensive staff, the Saints also interviewed Redskins assistant special teams coach Brad Banta for their special teams coach opening, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

Chargers To Interview Gus Bradley For DC Job

The Chargers coaching staff has seen plenty of turnover, and now there’s another name to add to the list of potential additions. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the organization will interview Gus Bradley for the role of defensive coordinator. The former NFL head coach is the “favorite” for the gig.

Gus Bradley (vertical)Bradley has been a relatively popular name since he was fired by the Jaguars in mid-December. The 50-year-old was reportedly atop the Redskins’ list of potential defensive coordinator candidates. Bradley has a natural connection to that organization, as the coach worked under general manager Scot McCloughan when the duo was in Seattle. The Browns also reportedly reached out to Bradley regarding their defensive coordinator vacancy.

Bradley had plenty of success as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, a position he held from 2009 through 2012. However, things didn’t go nearly as well during his head coaching tenure in Jacksonville. In his three-plus seasons with the organization, Bradley compiled a 14-48 record. His .226 winning percent is the second-lowest mark in league history.

The Chargers don’t necessarily have an opening at the position, as defensive coordinator John Pagano is still under contract. However, there seems to be a belief that recently-hired head coach Anthony Lynn will want to hire his own personnel. Bradley and Lynn have been connected throughout the hiring process, and our own Sam Robinson noted that “a Lynn-Bradley ticket was previously thought to be the way the Bills would go.”

For what it’s worth, it appears that the Chargers will be retaining offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Hire Anthony Lynn As Head Coach

In less than a week, the Chargers have a new city and a new head coach. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the franchise has hired former Bills coach Anthony Lynn. It will be a four-year contract for the new head coach. Lynn entered his Thursday interview as the clear frontrunner for the gig, and reports last night indicated that the organization was finalizing a deal.

The Bills promoted Lynn twice this season, elevating him from running backs coach to OC in September and made him their interim head coach in December. Lynn was viewed as the frontrunner to be the next Bills’ full-time HC earlier during the hiring period, but the organization agreed to a deal with Sean McDermott. Lynn was the only candidate connected to all six teams with vacancies this offseason.

This deal completes a rapid ascent for the 48-year-old Lynn, who served as running backs coach for five different franchises from 2003-16. But the Bills became one of the best ground attacks in football under his guidance this season, and Lynn is in line to have a chance to enhance the Chargers’ offense.

Lynn will consider keeping OC Ken Whisenhunt on offense, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets, and former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is a prime candidate to become the Bolts’ next DC. Bradley has already interviewed to become the Redskins’ DC but has been connected to Lynn throughout this process. A Lynn-Bradley ticket was previously thought to be the way the Bills would go, but that pairing could be set to work together in Los Angeles.

It’s been quite the eventful 24 hours in a city that had few of those regarding the NFL for around two decades. The Rams named Redskins OC Sean McVay as their next HC — and youngest in NFL history — while the Chargers formally announced they are planning to relocate to L.A. And they’ll now have a coach to help steer that transition, one that wasn’t certain as the franchise interviewed five other candidates to succeed Mike McCoy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Extend DC Mike Smith

The Chargers’ coaching search will no longer include Mike Smith, who signed an extension to remain the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Smith also withdrew his name from the Chargers’ HC search earlier today, per Schefter (via Twitter).

Smith will now coach a second season with the Bucs, who hired the former Falcons coach to replace Leslie Frazier last year. The newly branded Los Angeles Chargers will continue to go through their options after Smith, Vance Joseph and Sean McDermott removed their names from consideration due to respective job offers elsewhere.

Anthony Lynn remains a strong candidate for the Bolts’ HC gig, with the former Bills interim head coach entering his interview today as the frontrunner to become the relocating franchise’s next sideline leader, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Lynn remains at his Chargers interview, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. The Chargers have interviewed six coaches for their HC vacancy, with Lynn being the only one to do so after news of the team’s relocation to Los Angeles became public.

Smith interviewed for the Chargers’ job last week, becoming the first candidate to do so. The 57-year-old coach also interviewed for the Jaguars’ HC job. His initial Tampa Bay defense ranked 23rd, with the unit falling off its top-10 perch from 2015. Frazier’s defense slotted 10th in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lynn Would Keep Whisenhunt If Hired By L.A.

Things are heating up between the Chargers and Anthony Lynn. Lynn could be the man to replace Mike McCoy as head coach and if that’s the case, he’ll keep offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Chargers brass likes the idea of keeping Whisenhunt on the staff and that is a plus in Lynn’s quest to become head coach, Rapoport adds. Ken Whisenhunt (Vertical)

[RELATED: Chargers Move To Los Angeles]

Whisenhunt, who is in the midst of his second stint as the Bolts’ play-caller, boasts seven-plus years of head coaching experience with the Cardinals and Titans. He was not given consideration for the head coaching vacancy, but the team has been intent on keeping him as OC regardless of the hire.

Quarterback Philip Rivers works well with Whisenhunt and he has been an advocate of continuity at a time when the Chargers are undergoing major changes. In 2017, he’ll be playing for the fourth head coach of his professional career in a brand new market. Amidst all the chaos, Rivers is hoping to have his plays called by the same OC as last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers, Rams Meet With Anthony Lynn Again

The Bills’ head coaching job is no longer an option for Anthony Lynn, but he still has an opportunity to land on his feet in this coaching cycle. Both the Chargers and Rams plan to bring Lynn in for a second interview, sources tell ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (Twitter link). Anthony Lynn (vertical)

[RELATED: Chargers Officially Announce L.A. Move]

Lynn is the only coach who was tied to all six coaching vacancies this offseason, but only three jobs remain after the Bills, Broncos, and Jaguars made their hires. It’s not immediately clear if the Niners are bringing Lynn back for a second interview, but the Rams and Chargers have advanced interest in him.

On Wednesday, the Rams gave a second interview to Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay and he is rumored to be the team’s leading candidate at this time. However, the Rams are conducting a thorough coaching search and they will not wrap thing up without further exploring other options, including ones that could get the most out of their defense. In total, twelve candidates have interviewed for the position.

Meanwhile, Lynn is now the first coach to have a second interview scheduled with the Chargers. Patriots DC Matt Patricia, Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, Lions DC Teryl Austin, and Bucs DC Mike Smith are also said to be in the mix. McDermott and Vance Joseph are out of the running after accepting head coaching jobs elsewhere on Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: Bills, Jags, Raiders, Ravens

Although Anthony Lynn has long been viewed as the favorite to take over as the Bills‘ head coach, team ownership has been extremely impressed by Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Indeed, Buffalo is now in something of a “holding pattern” as Lynn and McDermott interview elsewhere, tweets Vic Carrucci of the Buffalo News. Lynn has been linked to every head coaching job that remains open, while McDermott has drawn interest from the Chargers and 49ers in addition to the Bills, as PFR’s 2017 Head Coaching Search Tracker shows.

Here’s more on the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • The Jaguars will retain defensive coordinator Todd Wash under new head coach Doug Marrone, but nearly every other member of the defensive staff is being let go, reports Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Defensive assistant Mike Rutenberg is the only other defensive coach who will remain on board. Jacksonville had 24 coaches on staff at the end of the regular season, and that number figures to be reduced, tweets Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.
  • Ken Norton Jr. will remain the Raiders‘ defensive coordinator, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Head coach Jack Del Rio assumed play-calling duties midway through the 2016 season, and Oakland ultimately finished 23rd in defensive DVOA. While Norton Jr. will stick around, defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson has been fired, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link).
  • Former Buffalo offensive coordinator Greg Roman could potentially join the Ravens staff in some undefined role, per La Canfora (all Twitter links). Baltimore recently announced that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will return for the 2017 campaign, so Roman — who has remained in contact with head coach John Harbaugh — could join the Ravens in a run-game director capacity.
  • The Eagles have fired wide receivers coach Greg Lewis, tweets Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Lewis spent just one season as a coach with Philadelphia (after having spent the 2003-08 seasons with the club as a player). Current Bills WRs coach Sanjay Lal is of “strong interest” to the Eagles, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • The Browns announced that they’ve begun to restructure their defensive staff under new coordinator Gregg Williams, parting ways with defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi, inside linebackers coach Johnny Holland, assistant defensive backs coach Cannon Matthews, and outside linebackers coach Ryan Slowik. Cleveland also fired offensive line coach Hal Hunter.

Latest On Bills’ Head Coaching Search

The Bills will interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard for their open head coaching position tonight, reports Peter Schrager of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds that Buffalo’s decision-makers are currently on their way to Seattle. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier today (Twitter link) that the Bills were likely to meet with Richard as soon as today. As PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, Richard is part of a long list of candidates for Buffalo’s top job.

Sep 3, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard reacts on the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of those candidates, Anthony Lynn, who has been considered the Bills’ first choice, might not even want the job, as we learned last week. But according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), Bills ownership apologized to Lynn for telling him to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Week 17. Lynn likes Taylor, so perhaps the apology was issued as an attempt to smooth over a source of resentment for Lynn and to convince him to stay in Buffalo (although the Bills, of course, do intend to move on from Taylor if they can).

But Schefter reports that whoever the new head coach is, he will have more power within the organization. Although ownership is apparently a fan of general manager Doug Whaley, the fact remains that the Bills’ next head coach will be the third during Whaley’s tenure, and his stint as GM has not been a successful one. So while Whaley will keep his job for at least one more season, he apparently will not have as much autonomy with respect to roster construction as he has enjoyed in the past.

In addition to Lynn, the Bills have already interviewed Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, both of whom are popular head coaching targets this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/FO Rumors: 1/8/17

We’ve already heard a few coaching and front office rumors today, including news on an extension for Andy Reid, the future of John Dorsey, and the Bills’ continued search for a new head coach. We will round up a few more rumors on that front right here. Revisit this post for updates throughout the day, and also check out our NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.

  • In addition to Anthony Lynn, the Rams are also interviewing Doug Marrone for their vacant head coaching position today, according to Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com (via Twitter). Schrager tweets, however, that Marrone is still “very much in contention” for the Jaguars‘ head coaching job.
  • The 49ers will interview Seahawks co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer for their vacant GM job next Monday, and they will interview Seattle’s assistant head coach Tom Cable for their vacant head coaching job next Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The 49ers are interviewing the Colts‘ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III for their GM job today, as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com tweets.